Thoughts on : Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
About the Book :
In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.
Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.
But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.
My Thoughts :
I loved this book.
Contemporary YA can be hit or miss for me. It’s a genre/category I particularly enjoy, but it has to hit some specific notes or I get easily bored. Mostly, I love when they are about important issues (mental health, race, gender, etc.), when characters have particular interests or passions (arts, music, sports, anything goes!), and when there’s a bit of something heartwarming to it (can be romance, but not necessarily). Some YA contemporaries have none of this and are still amazing; some have all of it and still don’t click for me.
Eliza and Her Monsters had all of it, and it all came together amazingly.
First, mental health. Eliza’s anxiety is one of the best representation I’ve seen of it in YA. The ups and the down, the uncontrollable fear, everything. It’s a huge issue in her life, one that isn’t quite as apparent from the start, but grows and grows until it can’t be ignored. I related so much to how her anxiety shaped her that I connected to her right away, and I understood completely the comfort the internet brought her. It can be a marvelous window to the world when you lack the energy/capacity to act in the “real world”, as some would call it.
And it’s interesting, too, how the book addresses “real life” versus “online”. Eliza’s parents are worried about her; Eliza feels that her parents don’t get it, and that her online friends are as real as the ones she could have at school. I felt the author balanced things well, with neither side being exactly right. There’s a love for fandom and online communities that shines through the pages, without ever forgetting the importance of human interaction and, simply put, living.
Second, Eliza’s passion for her story and her art was so amazingly portrayed. The book is wonderfully illustrated with pieces of Eliza’s art, but it never takes over Eliza’s personal story. It simply adds to it, completes it.
Finally, the romance, the family and the friendships all offered some beautiful moments. I was first surprised by how serious the book was. I went in expecting, mostly, something cute and fun, more like a romcom. But even though Eliza turned out to be a tad darker than expected, it never felt heavy. In between the scenes of doubt and fear, were many more scenes of falling in love, dealing with annoying brothers and forming new friendships.
I absolutely adored this book. I breezed through it. The plot was good, the characters were good, the writing was good. I lived so many things through it, and it even had me thinking over some aspects of my life, my work, and my own anxiety.
I would even dare say that Eliza is my new favorite!
I would highly recommend this book to fans of Fangirl : it shares many aspects, like fandom and social anxiety, and both have a lot of heart, but they still feel different enough.