Many of my book reviews go right into the summary of the novel. In this case, however, I won’t be because I want to express my love for Francesca Zappia’s Eliza and Her Monsters even before you get into the rest of my fangirl feels. It probably doesn’t come as too much as a surprise, but I am a huge fan of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl. For many readers and reviewers, including myself, Fangirl incorporates so much about fandom and having such a love for fictional stories and characters, not to mention social anxiety, family, relationships, and more. While I’ve read other, mostly great books about the Internet and fandom, reading Eliza and Her Monsters gave me the closest reading experience I had to Fangirl. Not only could I see myself in Eliza, but I could see myself in her story, even though I do not run a multi-million follower online series (maybe one day!). As you may tell as you read my review, I loved Eliza and Her Monsters and I highly recommend that you pick up this book as soon as possible.
Summary: Eliza Mirk thinks she’s the quiet girl who prefers baggy sweatshirts and jeans to anything. But with a pen in her hand and a computer in front of her, she transforms into LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the popular online comic series, Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine having any relationship better than her online friendships, until she meets the new kid in school. Wallace is Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, who thinks Eliza is just another big fan of the webcomic. As Wallace pulls Eliza out of her shell, she must decide if she’s prepared to have a life both offline and online.
My Rating: Beyond 5/5 Stars
**WARNING: There are spoilers for Eliza and Her Monsters below**
The concepts in Eliza and Her Monsters blew my mind. This might my English major and analyzing brain coming in, but I couldn’t help looking for symbolism in the novel right after I finished reading. Probably one of my funniest interests of the book is the names of Eliza and her brothers. I loved how Church and Sully were named after historical figures, and that leads to me think that Eliza may have been named after a certain Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton (Hamilton just reads non-stop in me). When it comes to symbolism, I saw a lot of similarities between Amity, the main protagonist of Monstrous Sea, and Eliza. For instance, I think that the Watcher in Amity could hold a similar significance to LadyConstellation being part of Eliza’s identity. From what I understand, the Watcher gives Amity great power, while being the webcomic creator that she is makes Eliza feel important and powerful, the mother of a fandom (one of my favorite sayings in the book).
The manner of how Eliza’s identity as LadyConstellation being uncovered completely threw me. Originally, I thought that the bully who stole her sketch would put two and two together and realize that Eliza created Monstrous Sea. When the Mirks go on their camping trip and Eliza is cut off to the online world, I thought Eliza would return home and find out that everyone knew that she created the webcomic. That being said, I was completely thrown off (and wrong again) when her parents publish it in her senior year description in the town’s magazine. Eliza’s parents were frustrating enough, and I hated how they did this to Eliza. While I never doubted their care for Eliza, Sully and Church were completely right when they point out that they never truly tried to figure out what Monstrous Sea was, let alone the size of the fandom. It was really interesting for Francesca Zappia to place this misunderstanding of the online world in Eliza’s parents, as they just didn’t understand why Eliza spent so much time online and how she had friendships there (appreciation for Max and Emmy is much deserved, and I’m still hoping for a Mr. Greatbody to show up in the mail).
Toward the end of the novel, I was also a bit frustrated with Wallace; by no means did I dislike him though. When I pictured Wallace in my head, I imagined Finn Hudson, from Glee, with longer hair (I was definitely influenced by the whole football player thing). Once Eliza’s identity is discovered, she’s obviously in such a horrible state, and while I understand Wallace’s frustration, I think him pushing Eliza to finish the story for his own publishing sake was uncalled for. At that point, I myself was unsure if Eliza would find it in her to finish the webcomic, and she completely didn’t need that added stress from Wallace.
In the end, I was overjoyed that Eliza was taking care of her herself and was working on her relationships with her family, Wallace, and Max and Emmy, not to mention that she finished Monstrous Sea. I am beyond excited to read Francesca Zappia’s other work, like Children of Hypnos and Made You Up, and I am PRAYING FOR A MONSTROUS SEA GRAPHIC NOVEL OR WEBCOMIC!! After I finished reading the book, I went back and looked and read Eliza’s Monstrous Sea excerpts, which made me even more interested in the comic. I’m hoping to go on to Tumblr and see so much fanart and quotes, not to mention some more art of Davy. Guys, there’s a DOG in this book and he makes an appearance in Monstrous Sea, THAT SHOULD BE ENOUGH FOR ANYONE TO PICK UP THIS BOOK!
Have you read or are planning to read Eliza and Her Monsters (please say yes)? Share your thoughts and feels in the comments below!