Saturday, June 11, 2011

Book Review: The Search for WondLa

It's one of the rare science fiction books written for children nowadays. Today's books are either half-comic diaries written for 3rd graders (I'm gonna write one too, it'll be called The Diary of a Blimpy Kid), or it's teen angst filled vampires and goth boys with dark eyebrows. Very little is what you would call speculative fiction. I have been impressed with the resurgence of "dystopian" worlds in the Young Adult section, although I have been a little hesitant to read them. The problem with writing most futuristic fiction is that you have to resist the urge to relate current political views with the outcome of mankind. It irks me when authors who are writing for entertainment decide to stick a platform from either party into a character. It usually sticks out like a sore thumb, turning an otherwise sympathetic character into a mechanical airhorn for a political party. And there have been some doosies in my reading. For instance, the Communist dragon in Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger series. I stopped reading the book because of that. Or when Queen Amadala says, "And this is how freedom ends, with thunderous applause," during the newest Star Wars movies. And sometimes whole movies, like Avatar, are nothing but a platform for Environmental zealots, who are all anti-business and all for the government regulating everything. There are some recent books, like Brave Story, which I read a few months back, which has a little of that in it, but it's easy to overlook.

It's one of the main complaints I have with The Search for WondLa, as Rovendeer, the traveling Jimmy Cricket that accompanies Eva Nine on her journey, sometimes becomes a chorus that says general statements about the bad guys that are actually supposed to be about us.

The book itself, though, flows along quite nicely, with good plot twists and the usual "to be continued" thing at the end, as it's the beginning of a series. I read it quickly and easily, and would recommend it to any kid who liked Avatar, for instance, or Wall-E, which it was quite similar to, in theme. I always kept wondering, what would Orson Scott Card have done with this book? How much more depth and natural flow it would have had, even with the themes that were put in. As usual with children's books, it had a lot more potential. Of course, that's me talking, as the works of Card are books for adults that are about kids, and this book is a book for kids. How wonderful are those in which a balanced is reached.

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