There are, to my mind, three types of books in the world. First, there are the books not worth reading. They may be wonderful for someone, they’re just not for me. Then there are the books that are worth reading, but getting into them takes awhile. It may be worthwhile effort, but it’s still effort. Finally, there are those rare books where by page 3, you’re already enveloped in the book so deeply that you have to finish it. These books don’t necessarily have the best writing (though it’s never poor writing), but author is a master storyteller. I’ve read a lot of good books in the last year or so, but none of them were the sort that once I started, I just had to finish. Well, thankfully, I just finished Tony DiTerlizzi’s The Search for Wondla and it was the sort of book that I barreled through at top speed.
First, DiTerlizzi’s illustrations are amazing. They’re printed in green and black and really bring the story to life. Each chapter begins with an illustration. As I’ve said, good book design really enhances a book for me and this one had it in spades. But the story is amazing too. Eva Nine has always lived in an underground sanctuary. She has never known any other people. A robot called Muthr is her caregiver. Muthr teaches Eva about the surface, testing her on things like how to survive a rattlesnake bite, so she can one day go up top. Eva has only one item that didn’t come from Muthr, a fragment of an image of two humans and a robot with tiny fragments of writing that spell WondLa. When Eva’s home is attacked, forcing her to the surface, she finds that it’s nothing like she’s been told. She finds strange creatures like walking trees and water bears that her technology cannot identify. She’s being hunted by another creature and must find friends and figure out why she’s there and what to do.
Wanting to understand the significance of WondLa and unravel the mystery of Eva’s life kept me interested up to the end. I had my suspicions, but I wasn’t sure what was going on until the final reveal. This was fantasy storytelling at its finest and it deserves to get the sort of maniacal fans that Harry Potter had. Mushroom and BalletBoy aren’t quite old enough to appreciate it, even as a read aloud, but in another year or two they will be. Something to look forward to other than just the next volume.