Friday, August 5, 2011

Review of The Search for Wondla by Tony DiTerlizzi

DiTerlizzi, Tony.  The Search for WondLa.  Simon & Schuster, 2010.

I don't know why it took me so long to read this; it wasn't until the audiobook snagged my eye as I trotted through the Children's Literature department last week that I finally gave it a chance.

And I'm glad I did, though the audiobook version is a mixed success.  On the one hand, narrator Teri Hatcher does a fantastic and utterly convincing job with the various voices, from Eva Nine's girlish warble to all different kinds of aliens.  But - someone must have told her to read VERY slowly.  Yes, audiobooks need to be read at a slow enough pace that listeners can savor the words - but to space words out like a funeral march is just too much.  This was the slowest-read audiobook I have ever listened to, and I have listened to hundreds!  And the other disadvantage of this audiobook is that I missed the illustrations - but I must say that the author did a fine job describing all the creatures, and my mind's eye populated Eva Nine's world with no problem.

So - this is science fiction, which is evident right off when we meet Eva Nine, who lives all alone in a very modern underground "sanctuary," cared for by an advanced robot that Eva calls "Muthr."  Soon enough, the sanctuary is destroyed and Eva Nine must flee to the surface, something she has never done - and she finds it entirely different than she has been taught.  Right away she encounters danger, but she also meets friends - alien creatures like the backward-bending-legged Rovender Kitt, who becomes Eva's slightly reluctant but amiable traveling companion, and the incredibly sweet giant pillbug Otto, who communicates via a form of telepathy with Eva Nine.

Eva Nine thought this was Earth - but according to everyone she meets, the planet has a different name. Where is Eva?  What happened to all the other humans?  Why is a hunter trying to track her down?  Nicely balanced between adrenalin-pumping danger and fascinating encounters with the various creatures of this planet, the plot is sprightly enough to keep readers glued (even if they are listening to someone read aloud at a glacial pace...), even as it stays focused on the heart of the story - Eva Nine, her important relationships, and her search for her people.  By the end, a few questions are answered but many more remain for following books to resolve.

Good science fiction for middle-graders is hard to find; this one is heartily recommended for ages 9 to 12.


  1. Oh, I can't picture this without the illustrations! I loved it.

  2. And I won't be able to read book 2 without hearing the voices Teri Hatcher gave to each character...!

  3. awesomeness i have read the book twice already in a whole year it is fricken amazing