Friday, December 17, 2010

The Search for WondLA review


Eva Nine is a lone human girl being raised in an underground pod by her caretaker, MUTHR, or the Multi-Utility Task Help Robot. By the age of 12, Eva longs to know what is above the surface, and while she loves Muthr very much, she is curious to discover if there are any other humans on the planet.  The story is somewhat inspired by, but is not a literal re-interpretation of Frank L. Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  The rich, detailed graphic novel style art, in black and green tones is deeply reminiscent of W.W. Denslow's original illustrations for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. 
My 
first piece of advice to readers is to drop any preconceived notions about Oz.  I drove myself crazy for the first few chapters, thinking, things like, "Okay, if Eva is Dorothy, does that make Muthr the Tin Man?  Or is Muthr more like Auntie Em?"  When she meets up with alien traveler Rovender Kitt, I wondered if he is supposed to be a counterpart of the Scarecrow.  And is Otto, the tardigrade bear that Eva is able to telepathically communicate with, more like the Cowardly Lion? Or more like Toto? Put those thoughts aside, and just enjoy the story for what it is, a highly imaginative and gorgeously illustrated tale about coming of age and finding your place in the world.

I
loved Eva Nine's loosely braided hair and futuristic clothes. The technology is well-thought out and truly lends another layer of depth to the story.  Walking plants, menacing alien hunters and a varied and harsh landscape create a strange and eerie world.  I was glad to see the language barrier between alien species meaningfully addressed, and even more pleased that it was quickly circumvented in such a clever and workable way.  Eva relies on her Omnipod, a silver device shaped somewhat like a hand mirror to diagnose and cure illnesses, function as a flashlight, and to store and record information, the same way modern readers might be inseparable from their iphones.  Her flying car, a classic, "this must the future" item is widely regarded as an antique.

Much
has been said about the augmented reality maps embedded in the book.  I'm sure that the technical requirements (a computer with webcam, the ability to download a player) will foil many readers, and while the interactive 3-D maps are really, really cool, with a lot of "gee whiz" factor, you don't need to sign in to the website to enjoy the book on it's own. 
The 
secrets revealed at the end of the book were stunning and something that I was not expecting (despite, in hindsight, the very obvious clues.)  The Search for WondLA feels like an instant classic and is sure to be enjoyed for generations to come.  I hear a rumor that this is the first book of a planned trilogy.  I know I'm eager to return to the magnificent world that DiTerlizzi has created.


I
borrowed this book from the library.

6 comments:

  1. This one does sound really interesting, though I'm sure I would have the same initial hangups as you trying to figure out how everyone related to the OZ characters. Nice review of this one, it's new to me!

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  2. Hi! I found your blog from the Blog Hop hosted by Crazy for Books, but I don't see your Blog Hop post anywhere! Oh, well. I've been looking around your blog anyway and I really like it! Thanks for your review on WondLA, I need to read some more middle grade stuff and was wondering about this book. Come check out my blog: http://afairysplayground.blogspot.com/
    Have a good weekend!

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  3. Yes, Jenny, you are so right. It's Oz inspired (even the cover reminded me a little of Oz) but it's still totally it's own thing.
    Can I just say, I was so happy to be reading some science-fiction again!

    Thanks for stopping by, BC. I had this post all ready to go.
    I liked the question on Crazy for Books this week: which is more important, plot or character. I gave it a lot of thought, and I have to say plot is more important, at least to me. I can't stand a book where absolutely nothing happens, no matter how wonderful the characters or how compelling the worldbuilding is.

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  4. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I have to say, Madigan McGillicuddy is one of the best names I've ever heard! I didn't see a way to follow you, so I'll just subscribe via email.

    I liked your review of WondLa. I've not read it, and I"m not sure I will, but Tony DiTerlizzi is a local author and a wonderful friend to the bookstore where I work. I'm glad he's part of our literary community.

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  5. Thanks!

    That was one of the things I loved about working in a bookstore... getting to meet so many authors all the time.

    At your suggestion, I tried to add a follow button... then I got carried away and changed my whole blog template. I'd been meaning to do all this anyway during Bloggiesta, but well... no time like the present, I guess!

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  6. so glad you liked this one! I'm a huge fan of DiTerlizzi's artwork and have heard good things about this book. I'm excited to give it a try sometime soon!

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