Eliza and Her Monsters, by Francesca Zappia
Eighteen-year-old Eliza Mirk is the anonymous creator of Monstrous Sea, a wildly popular webcomic, but when a new boy at school tempts her to live a life offline, everything she’s worked for begins to crumble.
In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, smart, and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of a popular webcomic called Monstrous Sea. With millions of followers and fans throughout the world, Eliza’s persona is popular. Eliza can’t imagine enjoy
ing the real world as much as she loves her digital community. Then Wallace Warland transfers to her school, and Eliza 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.
Eliza and Her Monsters was a powerful novel, in my opinion. I’d like to first talk about the pacing. In the beginning of the story, this novel just seemed like another contemporary. After getting around 150 pages in, more happened. We started seeing our characters deal with stress and admitting their weaknesses and their struggles, and that’s when the novel kicked off for me. That’s when I couldn’t stop reading. I read this book in two sittings, which hasn’t happened for me in a long time, and I’m so greatful for that. Secondly, I’d like to talk about our characters. Eliza was a great protagonist. She was introverted, more comfortable online rather than off. Her relationship with her siblings and parents wasn’t strong, and she didn’t have friends in school. Seeing her develop throughout the story by making friends and being more interactive with her family was such a nice touch. In lots of contemporaries, our main character is either close to their family throughout, or is distant throughout. With Eliza, she developed, which was so wonderful to read about, and it really made me think about my own relationship with friends and family. Next, I’m talking about Monstrous Sea, our narrator’s webcomic. Throughout the novel, we get little screenshots and pieces of the web forum and of the story Eliza has created, much like Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, and I really liked this touch. The plot of MS was a little confusing for me, but I did enjoy seeing the snippets of it, as well as the illustrations. And, finally, I’m talking mental health. The idea of mental health in novels is still new to me. I don’t read many mental health novels, but when I do I enjoy them! So when Eliza struggled with anxiety, I felt like the book took on a new meaning for me. I can’t say how accurate the portrayal of anxiety is because I don’t suffer from it, but I did find that this added to the novel, and really made the story for me.
Overall, I loved Eliza and Her Monsters. I related to Eliza because she is a fangirl, she does have problems, she does write and sometimes she loses inspiration for her art. All of these aspects made her relatable and enjoyable to read about. I blew through Eliza, reading it in a day or so (385 pages), and I would say pick it up ASAP! 4.5/5 stars!