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The Search For WondLa
Wondla Trilogy – Book I
Tony DiTerlizzi

Simon and Schuster UK
1 September 2011 / ISBN: 9780857073006
Juvenile / SF / Future
Amazon US |\ UK

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde

All twelve-year-old Eva Nine knows is the dull but comforting safety of The Sanctuary, and underground home that she shares with a robot called Muthr. Although she yearns to explore the world above she keeps failing the survival tests set by the computer. She has to be ready however when one day a huntsman comes crashing into their world, forcing Eva to leave. When she sees the outside for the first time she realizes that it is nothing like the place she has been schooled about all her life, and she is actually prepared for nothing at all…

This is a fun and thought-provoking coming-of-age story, set in a strange and imaginative future world. Eva has to grow up fast when everything changes for her, and we see her transform from rebellious adolescent to experienced young woman. Mr DiTerlizzi has wisely eschewed the cute for the outlandish, and the creatures Eva meets are bizarre and rather clever inventions; to say more would be a plot spoiler. The book is illustrated in black and white, the illustrations printed in a way that evokes books from the period the author (who also created The Spiderwick Chronicles) finds most inspiring. This gives the book a slightly steampunk feel, although for a better comparison think Frank L Baum. What matters is that it is easy to care about these characters and be sucked into their world.

I certainly enjoyed reading this tale that manages to be for children yet contains much that adults will find entertaining too. For once this is not a dystopian world to rebel against in the name of freedom but a place to explore and enjoy, dangers notwithstanding, which is a rarity these days. There is also an accompanying website which requires a webcam to be properly appreciated; I don’t have one so you will have to discover this for yourself. This story is uplifting and gently enjoyable in all the right ways.

Reviewed 2011
© 2011