Due to goodness-knows-what force in the universe, I am apparently writing book reviews now.
I apologise in advance.
Jokes aside, I’ve been wanting to start doing this for quite a while and though I’m constantly reading books I never actually put in the effort to even attempt reviewing one.
This was a bit of a last minute decision so I don’t really know how exactly to approach this and I didn’t really prepare myself while reading – but I thought I’d share some very brief thoughts on this novel anyway.
ELIZA AND HER MONSTERS by Francesca Zappia
Disclaimer: this might be considered a little spoiler-y.
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.
I was lucky enough to be given this book right in time to read it along with a Goodreads book club a few of my friends recently created, Topping the TBR. In all honesty, I didn’t know much about Eliza and Her Monsters before I dived in and as always, having no expectations served me well.
One of the things I loved most about this book was how real it is. Whilst I don’t really dwell on the fandom side of the internet anymore, I used to be a part of a lot of online groups similar to the Monstrous Sea community. This novel took me back to the days when my online friends and fandoms were all I cared about – along with that sense of belonging to be found there that very few people seem to understand.
The characters in this novel were so real to me – reading about Eliza’s social anxiety issues felt like I was reading about my past self, my high school self. She’s zoned out and nervous, she avoids socialising without any genuine reason and she lashes out at her family even when they’re just trying to communicate with her. Flaws in her character – but they make her so realistic. People aren’t perfect, and we don’t always treat others (or ourselves) the way they deserve. Sometimes, we don’t even realise we’re doing it – and this book perfectly explained how these things happen when we fall too deep into our own world.
I loved Wallace’s character too – the fact that he breaks the typical Nerd vs. Jock stereotype so completely had me sold immediately. He’s sweet and gentle even though he’s a big, bulky guy and the way he handles his inability to speak in front of people is honestly so endearing. Sure, he doesn’t treat Eliza too well towards the end of the novel, but I saw this as yet another situation where humans are only human and sometimes they’re selfish and make mistakes. Zappia wasted no time with simple, predictably perfect characters and I loved it.
The one downside of this book was the fact that although the characters weren’t, the storyline was fairly predictable. We all knew Wallace was rainmaker, we all knew Eliza would be revealed and face a massive blow up. But even though I found myself thinking “well, shocker”, every now and then, I couldn’t put this book down. It was a fun, light, super entertaining read that still managed to touch on some important topics – such as mental illness, suicide and broken families.
Eliza and Her Monsters explores such different characters and relationships from any other YA novel I’ve read, and it was something I couldn’t help but appreciate. This heart-warming story is full of laughs, romance and teenage angst – perfect for any YA reader looking for a quick, fun read.