Hi Virtually Readers! I read this a few weeks ago and LOVED IT. That’s basically all but I wrote a whole review.
Title: Eliza and her Monsters
Author: Francesca Zappia
Genre: YA contemporary, with some fantasy/sci fi illustrations and stories thrown in for good measure
Themes: Friendship, Fandom, art, high school
Similar to: Fangirl and Radio Silence. LIKE SERIOUSLY IF YOU ADORED EITHER OF THESE ESPECIALLY RADIO SILENCE YOU WILL LOVE THIS.
My blurb: Eliza’s just a normal high school student. Eliza’s just the creator of one of the internet’s most popular webcomics, Monstrous Sea. Her two identities start to collide when she meets a real life fan at school. She’ll have to decide if the real world is worth it after all.
In case you’re not going to read this entire review, my basic summary is: THIS IS AN AMAZING BOOK READ IT NOW IT IS SO SO GOOD. But I am capable of writing more, so I will try.
While I have this blog, which I adore, I don’t have a huge online life. I don’t really have any internet best friends (although there are several bloggers I consider friends), I’m not in any group chats or anything (unlike a lot of bookstagram people I know who do become besties). You guys don’t know my last name, or where exactly I live, or my address (unless you’ve won a giveaway) (and you could probably find this out by digging a bit, probably) (but please don’t).
ANYWAY. Eliza is not like this. Her two closest friends are ones she’s only met online, and she basically refuses to interact with people at school, or even her family. Monstrous Sea is her life. At the same time, she doesn’t let people know everything about her (apart from said best friends), maintaining a sensible distance from her fans. This is about how she retreats out of the online world slightly when she meets a fan (and popular fanfiction writer) of Monstrous Sea at school. But she’s too afraid to tell him who she really is, so even as they make friends and maybe become a thing and Eliza starts to make friends with his friends, Eliza is still panicking and wondering how to tell Wallace.
I loved Eliza’s narration: the book had a really strong voice and the writing was amazing. I also enjoyed the chat pages with Emmy and Max or Wallace, the drawings (loose sketches, finished comic pages (I wish they had colour though), and concept art) and the story snippets. The author is clearly an amazing artist and I really liked how these two elements gave a sense of what Monstrous Sea was actually about and also linked to what was happening in Eliza’s story.
Eliza and Wallace had a really adorkable yet realistic relationship that made me wish I had a boyfriend (except, haha no). I really liked how Wallace’s backstory kind of explained who he is without defining him. I think Wallace had selective mutism? I don’t exactly know how selective mutism is diagnosed but it seemed like that anyway. And Eliza was an anxious introverted cynical bean.
One other thing! I really enjoyed how Eliza and Her Monsters developed Eliza’s relationship with her family. Along the course of the book, she goes from ‘omg you guys don’t get it’ to realising that maybe they can *get* it if she gives them a chance. Although Eliza’s parents do something terrible to her (I won’t name it because SPOILERS) they still tried, and that is definitely worth something. And her brothers reminded me so much of mine it was almost uncanny.
Overall, this book was a lot like Radio Silence in terms of characters and themes, but not like copying. I ADORED the way it discussed what it means to be in a fandom, what is the difference between online and real life, and how important it is to forgive.
Writing and themes: 5/5
Have you read this? Do you want to now? What are books about fandom that you’ve loved?