Review: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Book Summary:
Her story is a phenomenon. Her life is a disaster.

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.

Book Review:
This book attracted me from the very outset. The summary itself drew me in.

Guess what? I finished reading this in one day! You know how sometimes you can't wait to see what comes next so you trip over yourselves to get to the next next next page? And then since you've skimmed like crazy you don't understand what happened so you gotta come back and read patiently again? Yeah, that happened here.

I adored this book and it was unputdownable. The characters are well written and relateable. I love Eliza and can identify with her need to just put head down and create. I myself use a pseudonym on this blog! I silently cheered for her because she worked on her art and became successful while preserving her identity and her personal life. I really liked this part of the book -

Creating art is a lonely task, which is why we introverts revel in it, but when we have fans looming over us, it becomes loneliness of a different sort. We become caged animals watched by zoo-goers, expected to perform lest the crowd grow bored or angry. It’s not always bad. Sometimes we do well, and the cage feels more like a pedestal.

I really identify with this, except I'm not supremely popular for my writing yet (yes, I write poetry, thank you for asking), anonymously or otherwise. But a girl can dream.

A turning point in the book is when her secret is accidentally shared and now everyone knows who she is. I'm not marking this as a spoiler because this is mentioned in the book summary as well.

Her friends Max and Emmy are also super supportive. This book touches on the fact that as teenagers and twenty somethings, we spend a lot of time in the online world and develop close friendships there. Just because we haven't met those people face to face does not make them a less important part of our lives. I really appreciated that the author valued the relationships and acknowledged that often our online space is our safe space where we can truly be ourselves.

Her relationship with Wallace seemed kind of rocky to me, and I don't want to give out any spoilers but I would just like to say that he tended to become a tad selfish sometimes - understandable, given his history. But I don't see it as a negative. I just think that it makes the characters more real.

Above all, I must mention the beautiful illustrations peppered throughout the book. Francesca Zappia seems to be as good an artist as a writer. I fully intend to read more of her books in the future!

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