Against my better judgment I picked up this book. I’ve promised myself that I wouldn’t start a new series that wasn’t already complete. I get tired of waiting for new books to come out and then re-reading to remember what happened… hence one of the reason I have sworn off the Wheel of Time Series until it is finished. Alas, I am pleased that I rarely listen to my better judgment. The Search for WondLa was what I have been searching for in a middle grade novel. It wasn’t condescending; it wasn’t dumbed down. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Not only does DiTerlizzi create an interesting new world, he also creates fascinating characters which make this book completely unique.
The book begins with Eva Nine living with Muthr, her robot care taker underground. She is not your typical child, as she’s lived alone in the Sanctuary without seeing other humans. She dreams of meeting people of her kind and she has a mysterious picture that guides her in her search to find them. While the book was for children, it dealt with themes that can be appreciated across the board, and with topics that are difficult. It covers death, violence, and sacrifice. The topics are dealt with in a mature way that I appreciated. In many middle grade novels these topics are avoided or glossed over in such a way that makes them come across as cheesy or disingenuous.
The illustrations (also by DiTerlizzi) are beautiful and tell as much of the story as the prose itself. Another device that makes this book a page turner are the short chapters dually beneficial for young readers and adults. It makes the young reader feel as though they are making real progress through the book, and makes the older reader continue on with the justification,’just one more chapter’ which turns into several. I would suggest this book to both young kids, probably over ten as the violent scenes, while not necessarily graphic, might be difficult to understand, and to adults who love fiction. I can’t wait for the next installment.