With her surrogate robot mother named Muthr, Eva Nine has lived below ground her entire life and longs to explore the world above her tiny domicile. Eva Nine is twelve years old and has lived her entire life in an underground Sanctuary, with only her an Omnipod (a futuristic iPad that looks like a looking glass) and a Multi-Utility Task Helper Robot 05 ("Muthr") as companionship. Eva trains for the day she will be able to go above ground and meet other human beings like herself. She trains in a virtual reality hologram with her robot Muthr. She accomplishes tasks that might confront her in the above ground world. After she unsuccessfully fails a simple survival task in the virtual reality room, her robot matron tells her she is not ready to go above ground yet. Eva Nine is devastated.
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Eva Nine is upset by this news and finds refuge in her secret hiding place. She hides things there so Muthr cannot see them, including a piece of thick paper with the words "Wond" and "La" on them and a picture of a young girl, a robot, and a man.
After the Sanctuary is attacked one night, Eva Nine is forced to evacuate and is thrust into the outside world. Eva Nine learns that an evil creature named Besteel has attacked her home. After avoiding Besteel, Eva Nine befriends a stange creature named Rovender Kitt. Rovender gives Eva Nine a translating device so they both can understand each other even though they speak different languages. She then saves the life of Otto, an unusual telepathic "water bear," who becomes her loyal friend. Eva Nine is surprised that her Omnipod cannot identify anything on the above ground surface, and the map the omnipod provides does not match up with the reality of the landscape.
Determined to find out if her robot Muthr survived Besteel's attack, Eva Nine and Rovender Kitt return to the Sanctuary to find her. They find Muthr and are able to resurrect her, but she is still programmed to keep Eva Nine safe in the Sanctuary. They reprogram the Sanctuary's main computers so Muthr can leave the Sanctuary and lead Eva Nine and her new found friends to find out more about the above ground world (especially since her home has been destroyed). To Eva Nine's dismay the other Sanctuaries are abandoned, and it seems Eva Nine is the last of her kind.
Otto, Muthr, Rovender, and Eva Nine set out for the city of Solas. On the way to Solas they are beset by Besteel again, but manage to escape his clutches. In Solsa, Eva Nine discovers a museum that has all the objects that her Omnipod has described. She learns that the world she lives in is called Orbona by the natives, who apparently arrived at the planet and reawakened it. After almost made a piece of the collection, Eva learns that humans used to inhabit the planet, and there exists a destroyed human habitat (which we get to see, and find out it is an uninhabited New York City). The group is attacked by Besteel and Muthr is hurt. Muthr tragically dies, and the rest of the crew go deeper into the ruins of the city. We find out that they are in the remains of what used to be the New York Public Library, and Eva Nine is able to determine that her scrap of paper she saved from the Sanctuary is the cover of the book from the Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.
The book ends when a human boy named Hailey swoops down in his spaceship to whisk Eva Nine away to her home.
Best part of story, including ending:
The book, even though it reads like a Sci-Fi epic, is a fairy tale about a lost girl looking for her home.
Best scene in story:
(Spoiler Alert) I like the scene where we realize that Orbona is really Earth, and that the scrap of paper with the man, robot, and young girl, is actually a cover from the classic children's book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Also, it is a nice touch that Eva Nine hangs out in an abandoned version of the New York Public Library.
Opinion about the main character:
I liked most that Eva Nine is a well-developed female character, and she is a literary allusion to Dorothy from the Wonderful Wizard of Oz.