Eliza and Her Monsters

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. Scott Westerfeld’s Afterworlds meets Nimona in this novel about art, fandom, and finding the courage to be yourself. Features illustrations by the author throughout. Perfect for readers of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, this is the second novel by the acclaimed author of Made You Up. 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 enjoying 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. With pages from Eliza’s webcomic, as well as screenshots from Eliza’s online forums, this uniquely formatted book will appeal to fans of Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona and Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.

Reviews

Reviewed: 2018-03-22

TW: suicide and suicidal ideations, panic attacks and anxiety rep



This books was fun! Of course I'm going to love a book full of fandoms and internet friends.

So the story follows Eliza Mirk and LadyConstellation; which really are the same person but so so different. Eliza is quiet and awkward and spends her days avoiding other people and drawing. LadyConstellation is an online star: the creator of webcomic, Monstrous Sea.


“You found me in a constellation.”




I. Love. The. Way. This. Book. Discusses. Online. Friends.
I love the intricacies of bonding with people online over common interests and then growing the relationship into something more. I love the small things like trying to catch up but also dealing with time zones and 'real life' circumstances. I love that weird line when you know or know of people online but then you meet them in real life.

There are not enough books that discuss this imo.


“There are monsters in the sea.”




I. Love. The. Way. This. Book. Explores. Introversion.
Because yes, there are some of us who do not like interacting with people in real life, no matter how active and chirpy and social we appear on the internet.


“I made Monstrous Sea because it's the story I wanted. I wanted a story like it, and I couldn't find one, so I created it myself.”




I. Love. The. Fandoms. In. This. Book.
Because the first thing I said when I finished the book at 3AM was that I wanted to read both Children of Hypnosis and Monstrous Sea. Just the fact that you write a great book, but inside you include other great books that I also want to read seperately and fully. Genius.

BTW YOU CAN ACTUALLY BEGIN READING CHILDREN OF HYPNOSIS! You can go check out more of Zappia's genius at Wattpad!

And in among all these goodies there is an amazing story with feelings and aspiration and understanding and misunderstanding. There is a wonderful ship (I fully believe that Zappia should colab with Alice Oseman - I want Wallace to appear in a Heartstopper episode please and thank you). Also Church and Sully are the most precious brothers that there ever was.


“Broken people don't hide from their monsters. Broken people let themselves be eaten.”





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Reviewed: 2018-03-22
I would give this all the stars if I could! This has captured perfectly the meaning and essence of being an introvert - and as someone who doesn’t deal with people well, it has been an amazing journey to know that even fiction imitates reality at times ❤️
Reviewed: 2018-01-25
As the blurb suggests, if you loved Fangirl, you will certainly love this book. Eliza and her Monsters takes us into the mind of Eliza, a fangirl and a creator. She writes the webcomic Monstrous Sea under her psuedoname LadyConstellations, thus maintaining a separate identity from the creator of the webcomic. In real life, Eliza is the quiet loner in school, the one who has social anxiety and tries to stay under the radar. Her main life in online, her friends are online and her community and space is online. If you are part of a fandom, you can relate to how liberating it is to lead a life online, in the midst of others who share your own passion.

The main reason to like the book is Eliza herself. Aloof, geeky, and vibrant, Eliza is a girl you can relate to. For her, her webcomic is her baby, and she is protective about her secret. She keeps her real identity from her fans so that she can live her life in relative peace, without the burdens and expectations that would come from being out. When she meets Wallace, who is a fan of her comic (but doesn't know who she is) and is a popular fan-fiction writer for the series, she is blown away by how much he understands her work. The two essentially bond over a shared passion, and fangirls and fanboys will recognize that connection. Being a creator and putting her work out for the world to see along with her heart bared is something that she isn't prepared for when she gets outed. Here, I would like to mention that I am not a writer - I don't know how it would feel to have the expectations of a million people hanging on to your next written word. But Zappia makes me understand the loneliness that Eliza feels, the burden of pleasing the fans, the fear of not being enough, the guilt over her block.

As readers, we voraciously demand content and yes, that is passion, but also sometimes it can be something constricting to the creator, and even if I realized it subconsciously before, the author actually put it in words. It is a beautifully written book about what is means to have an identity, the change in definition of interactions in this digital age, the myriad options opened up to creators, and most importantly, choosing to do what you love. That final message is the one that is the most significant for the target audience.

Trigger warning: Mentions of suicide in the book on more than one occassion.

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Greenwillow Books, via Edelweiss.
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