Book Review: The Search for WondLa

By Evalynn "Hepburn," 6th Grade


Truth and Spirit: The Search for WondLa, by Toni DiTerlizzi

Eva Nine had never been outside in her life.

But when the underground “Sanctuary” where she and her robot caregiver, Muthr, live is attacked by a vicious intruder, Eva is forced to abandon her home, her Muthr, and everything she owned, except a small piece of technology and a dirty image with “WondLa” written on it. The intruder is chasing Eva and as far as she knows, she is the only human left on the planet. Oh, and speaking of planets, Eva isn’t on the right one…

This sci-fi adventure story has two main motifs. One is trust. When Muthr gave Eva a list of basic survival skills, #1 was “Trust Technology.” But Muthr had prepared her for a completely different world -- Earth. Eva isn’t on Earth. She’s on a strange and dangerous planet, filled with creatures that even her technology can’t identify. Can Eva trust the local aliens, or is she completely alone?

The other motif is spirit and humanity. Can a robot have a spirit? The book hints that maybe it can. DiTerlizzi personifies Muthr by referring to the robot as “she” instead of “it.” Muthr admits, “I must confess, I do miss our holo-shows. I enjoyed watching them with you.” But does Muthr really feel emotions? If she does, does that mean she has a spirit?

There are many aliens on the planet. Some are like animals; the others, more like humans. The humanlike aliens look, talk, and eat differently from Eva, but they act in similar ways. Some see Eva as their equal, but others see her as an inferior, primitive specimen, like the taxidermist who wants to preserve Eva for his queen’s museum. However, that makes them more, not less, human, for we would respond similarly to something new and different.

I think this book raises a lot of important questions, like “What does it mean to have a spirit?” “What makes something ‘human?’” and “Who can you trust?” Trust is an issue now, in real life, with the media and politicians like Trump spouting lies left, right, and center. Who can we trust? It’s hard to relate to and trust someone, especially if they are different. DiTerlizzi magnifies this issue in the story by using robots and aliens, but it is still relevant to us. We are the same species, but still all different.

The Search for WondLa is an action-packed adventure that if you open, you won’t close until it’s finished. So come read about the perils and triumphs of brave Eva Nine. You’ll have fun, discovering in this strange, sci-fi land some truths that are startlingly close to home.

Evalynn's favorite books: Where the Mountain Meets the Moonby Grace Lin; Holes, by Louis Sachar; and The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart.