“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.”
Eliza and Her Monsters came out on May 30, and I’ve been thinking about this book ever since I finished my eARC copy in April. Today I wanted to share five reasons why you need to read this book.
1) The fandom experience. The online fandom community represented in this novel is amazing. It felt so realistic to my own experiences of being a part of fandoms, and I loved that the forums and posts are incorporated throughout the story.
2) Eliza’s webcomic. There are pieces of Eliza’s comic, sketches, and other Monstrous Sea related art and stories interspersed throughout this book, and that added touch really elevated the reading experience for me. It allows the reader to really see what Eliza is doing, and better envision her characters and world. When characters like Wallace and his friends discuss their favorite Monstrous Sea bits, it was great to have a visual reference.
3) The online vs IRL debate. Eliza has to deal with a family who is unsupportive of the fact that she spends so much time online. They’re skeptical of her online friends, and want her to spend more time in the “real world.” Eliza has to continually defend her choices and friendships. Anyone who has found a community online knows this situation all too well. This is one of many aspects about fandom that I think Eliza and Her Monsters does better than similar books on the market (I am notoriously unhappy with 95% of “fandom“ books).
4) Eliza + Wallace. The romance at the heart of this story was so, so cute. Wallace has Selective Mutism, so most of their conversations are written. I really loved their dynamic, and that Wallace isn’t quite the “traditional” love interest. He’s the most popular Monstrous Sea fanfiction writer, and he has such a great, quieter personality than we often see with guys in YA. The fact that Eliza knows who he is, but he has no idea she’s LadyConstellation, adds another level of tension to their relationship that was really interesting to see play out. The unavoidable reveal was done so well!
5) Mental health representation. This book does have trigger warnings for anxiety, panic attacks, and suicidal ideation. But as someone who has struggled with all of those things, I can honestly say the portrayal of Eliza’s mental health was phenomenal. There were so many scenes where I could see myself in Eliza in this regard. Francesca Zappia does an amazing job with this aspect of both Eliza’s character and the overall story, and it was one of my favorite things about this book.
Those are my five reasons why I think you should read Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia! I hope you’re now intrigued enough to give it a try – I honestly think this book will speak to a lot of people in one way or another. If you’ve already read Eliza, let me know what you thought of it in the comments! What are some of your favorite books about fandom?
*I received an eARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for a free and honest review.