Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
Date Published: May 30, 2017
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.
Francesca Zappia lives in central Indiana. When she is not writing, she’s drawing her characters, reading, or playing video games. She is also the author of Made You Up and Eliza Mirk’s favorite, The Children of Hypnos, a biweekly serial novel posted on Tumblr and Wattpad.
The only reason I’m giving this a 3-star rating is because there are as many cons as there are pros.
First thing you should know is… I was hyped coming into this book.
Like, full blown HYPED.
I mean c’mon. A massive online presence, fandoms webcomics and fanfiction, AND anxiety/depression finally being portrayed in a sort-of-true way (at least closer than how many other books get it)?!? All in one book?!?
I mean yes, they were all in here and were a major part of the storyline and main character, but no as in I did not agree with HOW they were implemented into the book and… most else. I have NOTHING against this author or the story-line and writing in general, just didn’t love the book.
For starters, the family dynamic was completely wrecked. See now, this book follows Eliza Mirk as she navigates her supposed “horrible” reality while juggling online life as the creator of the world-famous webcomic ‘Monstrous Sea’. Throughout the book I found myself getting FURIOUS (and I admit, a little uncomfortable) each time Eliza pushed her family away.
I get it, okay? You want to be happy and left alone to live life on your terms but wowowow do you HAVE to be so rude to your parents and brothers?? Her parents were seriously justtrying to have a good relationship with their hard-to-reach teenage daughter!! Who spends more time on her phone and computer than with her own family!! Her brothers clearly just wanted to connect and help their sister!! Instead of being seen as annoying, uncaring little kids!!
I couldn’t help thinking that the author wanted to get some pent-up feelings of her own out and decided to throw it in a YA, for good measure.
I understand how a lot of families are really this way. Parents disagreeing with the amount of time their children spend on electronic devices/internet and the children (most times) getting mad over said parents not being able to understand how they just connect better with people who get it and like the same things they like on the internet. It’s a real situation and it gets out of hand. Just don’t end the book with the characters staying this way if you want good feedback from readers.
** SPOILER **
At least Eliza found help, sorted out her anxiety issue a bit, and TRIED to connect better at the end but she still saw her parents as the bad guys when they really weren’t. The one pushing away and causing problems was herself.
** END OF SPOILER **
Back to Eliza’s parents though…
They would have understood why ‘Monstrous Sea’ meant so much to her if they’d asked before buuuuut Eliza could have also stepped up and said something – anything – instead of sulking and hating them more. It’s difficult to overcome but we need a character who looks difficult in the eyes and conquers his/her fears.
Gosh I really didn’t like Eliza for this.
She was selfish in a way anxiety and depression makes you selfish (and that’s okay for the beginning of a book as long as she eventually gets help and learns to deal better, right? Which does happen, by the way so that’s good) yet her bitterness added unnecessary fuel to the flame.
Another thing, the characters were astronomically boring. I especially disliked how her younger brothers – Church and Sully – were portrayed. The author tried to add dimension to their traits by including what makes them unique (like being good at singing and math, for example) but it only added to the list of what they enjoy, not who they are as people. Singing and math don’t shape you as a person!!
And don’t even get me started on Wallace. Number one fanfiction writer of her comic, this meaty football-playing looking guy who can’t talk in public – and resembles a puppy when he’s alone – so he resorts to writing out notes to Eliza at school. He becomes a totally selfish boyfriend (real traits!!) at the end of the book. When we first meet him he is seen as a mute fanboy, then turns into a relatable writer with a confusing past, then somebody I just wouldn’t get along with, ever. Not to mention the fact that she sometimes uses him as a crutch and he suspects during the end (when he gets mad, I got mad but then I agreed because I would probably be mad as well) but does nothing else about it.
All problems in this book are blamed on Eliza’s so-called Monsters.
That’s not true though, the real problem is Eliza.
Honestly I disliked Eliza more and more as each chapter went on. I know it makes me sound shallow and an unemotional person but at this point, I’m not even ashamed to admit it.
** SPOILER **
I sympathized with her struggle to stay hidden and her love for her creation but I did not sympathize after her parents (unknowingly and out of pure love for their daughter, though yes, they should have asked first) gave out her secret and she spiraled down into this abyss where she suddenly contemplates driving off the same cliff Wallace’s father died from.
** END OF SPOILER **
Nearly every single person (clearly not counting Wallace ‘cause he was too busy being angry) she encountered in real life that was a fan of LadyConstellation and ‘Monstrous Sea’ would either allow her space or compliment her comic. There is nothing (!!!) wrong with people telling you they liked something you created. In fact, try saying thank you for a change. If it wasn’t for them she wouldn’t have enough money to pay herself through college in the first place.
Now enough of whatever I just ranted on… This book was relatable in ways many other books are not.
Eliza’s therapy scenes were amazing. Her therapist gave great advice and never looked down on her client (something that doesn’t occur most of the time in real life) while allowing her to look at life in another angle. I liked this, I really did. It made sense while her comments and help allowed Eliza to process something new and finally change for the better. These parts got me emotional and earned a FULL STAR.
The dynamic of the book and the drawings of the comic placed here and there was absolutely GENIUS. So yes, another FULL STAR.
Half of the last star was because I understood how she felt most of the time (besides the family dynamic I just ranted on a full novel – basically – about). Eliza was at ease with herself the most when she didn’t have to think of herself physically and she was just LadyConstellation, full-blown creator and artist. She did what she loved and people loved it in return. What a better way to live, huh? Her depression was written spot-on. Everything from the sudden outbursts to the loneliness. If only she realized the world around her was not the one to blame. She was. I don’t think she ever realized this though.
The other half of the last star was only ‘cause I thought it was really cool of the author to include the fact that Eliza is a fangirl herself (SO COOL HOW THIS BOOK/COMIC SHE IS OBSESSED WITH ACTUALLY EXISTS – aka the author posts chapters on Wattpad) of the famous ‘Children of Hypnos’ series. Very emotional, very realistically portrayed.
What a lovely way to end a book.
Scale – 1 = none, 2 = once or twice, 3 = neutral amount, 4 = at least once a chapter, 5 = an excessive amount
1 2 3 4 5
Age Range Recommendation:
Crude or Profane language:
1 2 3 4 5
Drug or Alcohol Content:
1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5
Acceptable for a Christian to read?
No, but take what you will. The character development leans towards YOU trying to fix YOURSELF rather than trusting in God and what he has in store for you. Her anxiety and depression are never cured (this is realistic, in a way) but she also doesn’t heal thoroughly and this could send the wrong message to those actually trying to overcome their issues.
** I DO NOT OWN NOR AM AFFILIATED WITH ANY EXTERNAL SITES LISTED HERE **