ARC Review: Eliza and Her Monsters
by Francesca Zappia
Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia releases next Tuesday, May 30th, and I absolutely loved this book and I hope you do too! Check out my 5-star review! Many thanks to the publisher, Greenwillow books for the advance reader copy provided to me from Edelweiss, that in no way changes my honest opinions on this book.
Category: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publication: May 30th, 2017; Greenwillow Books
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. 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.
I just finished this a few minutes ago and have been struck dumb by the sheer brilliance of this story. I was afraid that I would be disappointed. But, man…I am in awe.
It has been a long time since I’ve felt this way about a book. It’s been a long time since I wished a book didn’t have to end. And that’s pretty crazy considering the emotional depth of Eliza and Her Monsters. But I was captivated. Consumed. Enthralled.
To be honest, I didn’t expect it to feel this way. I can’t even put it all into words. I loved Eliza. She’s so alive in a way that most characters strive for but always fall short of. I related to many aspects of how she felt about herself and the world around her. And at times, I felt absolutely gutted by how she perceived herself. She really took flight when Wallace came into the picture. I could see a change in her. She still held back, but she was opening up to someone in person. And that was HUGE.
I’m not going to lie—I was frustrated by her actions at times, too. I hated that she couldn’t/wouldn’t tell Wallace the truth. ESPECIALLY AFTER HE OPENED UP TO HER!!! I tried to see it from her point of view, but, it’s difficult unless you have the same mindset. She didn’t grasp how her lack of honesty could affect someone she cared about. And when it all came crashing down…well, that was almost unbearable.
This is where the story gets tough. Brutal and honest. No less gripping, though. As Eliza tries to deal with her monsters alone, it’s clear to readers that she needs outside help. There’s more going on than she is even aware of. Reading it was hard enough, so I cannot imagine living it. I wanted to go into the book and hug her. Or beg her to talk to someone. There’s a scene at the end (which I won’t spoil) that had my stomach lurching. I was so afraid that my fears about Eliza would come to fruition. And I didn’t know how I’d handle that kind of ending. Because by now, she was MY friend.
This story is poignant. Something that’s incredibly important and should be experienced by all. The formatting: the comics, IMs, texts, notes, etc. are just an added bonus. And they often added humorous elements. I really loved every character from Eliza to Wallace to Em to Max—even Sully and Church grew on me by the end! The family dynamic plays a huge part in the story. Eliza and Her Monsters is an outstanding look at mental health/illness. Not only in showing us from the affected person’s point of view, but also the perspectives of loved ones. Easily the best book I’ve read so far in 2017, I have no doubt it will remain in the top 5 by December.