Book Reviews

Book Review :: Eliza & Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

🚨SPOILER ALERT 🚨

Eliza and Her Monsters RATING :: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: YA Fiction

Synopsis : 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 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.

“You found me in a constellation.”

-Monstrous Sea

Review

I picked this gem up at the local library because I had absolutely no intention of purchasing it. In all honesty, I thought it wasn’t going to be that great of a book…

Boy, I can be so wrong at times. I plan on purchasing it so I can re-read it.

Let me start off by pointing out why I enjoyed this book:

I loved how the main character is so relatable. In the world of today, I’ve noticed that everything you see online (from the luxury lifestyle of well known celebrities to the picture perfect life of people you might know personally) may not be reality. Many people spend a lot of time building up a reputation in the social network, but may have little to no friends in the real world. They seem charismatic, confident, and secure about themselves online, but in the real world they’re distant, reserved, and not all they claim to be online… Which is exactly how Eliza is…

She’s the kind of girl you pass by on your way to class without really noticing she’s in front of you. She seems lifeless, if not boring. You’d probably think that all she does for fun is go home and read books, knit, or draw to avoid being around others. You might even start to think that all she’ll grow up to be is a lonely woman with 27 cats and an Etsy shop that sells quilts or knitted mittens.

However, as it turns out, she’s got more money than you probably make a week working at the local Starbucks. She’s far more talented and intelligent than you’d give her credit for. All in all, Eliza is pretty much an underdog… at least that’s what I figured. Makes you wonder then why she is so lonely and friend-less…

When it comes time for Eliza to step into the real world and realize that there’s more to life than living a lie and chasing shallow relationships that don’t challenge her to show off who she truly is, she (understandably) struggles to cope with the changes which include her new boyfriend Wallace, one of her webcomic’s biggest fans, who doesn’t know who Eliza TRULY is.

Wallace manages to get Eliza out of her shell, much to Eliza’s parent’s delight. Eliza’s parents worry about her because she spends so much time online, but rather than to seek or involve themselves in Eliza’s world, they only do more harm than good by criticizing her constantly. They’re so out of touch with Eliza’s life that they don’t even know that she can afford college and support herself without their help. Worse, while they’re aware that she is the creator of a web comic, they discredit the fact that it is a HUGE deal.

Their ignorance backfires on Eliza and everything she worked hard to keep secret, her identity included.

I disliked Eliza’s parents up until maybe the last two to three chapters. While they meant well when they tried correcting Eliza’s obsession with being online too often, they didn’t do much of a great job in trying to connect with her on her level. I cringed when, after seeing that Eliza was beginning to associate herself around Wallace, they immediately jumped into the conclusion that Eliza was going to be having sexual relations with Wallace right away.

As for Eliza’s baby brothers… Up until the leaking of LadyConstellation’s (Eliza’s online name) true identity, I had a difficult time liking them. The redemption of their characters came when they confronted their parents with hardcore truth about their treatment of Eliza and their ignorance of her popularity.

giphy

However, in spite of this amazing confrontation, I don’t feel the author did much to redeem Eliza’s parent’s reputation. While it’s obvious that they regret how they treated their daughter, I didn’t see them do anything redeemable afterwards except keep their tails between their legs for the remainder of the story. It would have been nice if there there had been more damage control instead of reducing the parents to a couple of clueless adults who are at the mercy of their children.

Now onto Wallace- Monstrous Sea’s biggest fan, if not fan-fiction writer.

I have to admit.. I found him so strange and
grew slightly annoyed by the whole “write me” instead of talking to Eliza for the first few chapters of the book.

As I came to understand his background, my feelings towards his unusual character changed. Although I did grow a little annoyed with him again when::

1. He kept pacing back and forth in front of Eliza’s house, trying to get her to talk to him. This wasn’t cool in my book, considering how he ignored and avoided her after her identity was leaked for the first several days. He didn’t even think of placing himself in her shoes for a second to understand why she’d even kept her identity a secret… at least not until after he spoke with her.

(Side note: his pacing back and forth, feeling betrayed by Eliza’s secret, felt equivalent to a child being upset about how he got a raisin cookie instead of a chocolate chip cookie. Bottom line: his demeanor seemed childish and unnecessary)

2. He tried forcing Eliza to finish Monstrous Sea even though he was aware of how much stress she was under. And all this for what? Because he’d been offered a huge opportunity by a publishing company that told him that unless Eliza finished Monstrous Sea’s last chapter, the deal was off. You can’t deny that he became pretty selfish, looking out for his own benefit instead of understanding Eliza’s frustration and anxiety.

He redeems himself later, but it took me a while to forgive him. Lol.

As Eliza learns to embrace who she is, to do what she feels in her heart to do instead of allowing others to dictate her actions or feelings, she begins to enjoy a better quality of life than she did before her identity was leaked (a great outcome to which, in a way, is owed to her parents. See? They’re not all that bad.)

I love how this book dives into issues that are relevant to young adults in America-
Peer pressure, mental health, bullying, social network addiction, self-consciousness, and loss.

I definitely recommend this gem. Easy read, relatable characters, fun, and creative.

Have you read Eliza and Her Monsters?

What are your thoughts on the book?

Feel free to share them in the comment section!

Thanks for reading 😘

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