♡ This is a spoiler free review.
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.
♡ Content Warning: Anxious Thoughts, Death, Panic Attacks, Suicide and Suicidal Thoughts.
Eliza and Her Monsters reminded me so much of Fangirl – a book that I really liked and that had great anxiety representation, luckily for me I loved this book even more and the anxiety representation was even better! Eliza has been living a double life: In real life she’s a shy girl who prefers to spend her time locked in her room, but on the internet she is the amazing creator behind the very famous and phenomenal Monstrous Sea. But when her secret is accidentally revealed everything starts to fall apart – her new relationship, her online persona and even her sanity.
I really, really enjoyed this story – it was creative, fun and heartwarming and I really loved the characters. Eliza was a bit of a different character; she was a homebody and she had serious social anxiety. She preferred to spend most of her time on the internet and with her internet friends; I really related to her on this, I have made some amazing friends through this blog and I do spend a good chunk of time on the internet, so I totally understood where she came from. Her parents unfortunately, did not. They really didn’t get where she was coming from and how much Monstrous Sea meant to her, it almost felt like they didn’t care because they didn’t actually try and understand her.
For the other part of our duo we have Wallace who was the perfect match for Eliza. Just like her he’s quiet, shy and prefers not to speak in public, but he wasn’t born like this, he was molded to be like this due to traumatic events. Coincidentally Wallace is like Monstrous Sea’s biggest fan and he basically worships the ground on which Lady Constellations walks, but he doesn’t know that Eliza is the actual creator of the thing he loves the most in this world. He really was a sweetheart and he loved Monstrous Sea and Eliza so much, but there were a few instances towards the end when I thought he was being a complete ass and that Eliza deserved better!
This book is so much darker than I first anticipated. Sure it is filled with loads of geekiness, fanfiction, cosplay and secret handwritten notes but it also focuses very much on Eliza’s anxiety, her strained relationship with her family, her depression and her suicidal thoughts. This definitely gave the book a more darker and serious edge, but it was so incredibly well done; Eliza was the embodiment of anxiety and you felt anxious just reading about her anxious thoughts. I thought the depression representation was also really realistically represented, the hours she spent hidden under her covers with her TV on, not having the energy to shower or eat hit really close to home and I can’t praise the mental illness representation enough. I also loved that she came to acknowledge her problem and that she sought help in the form of therapy and medication.
Another interesting thing that I loved about this novel was that it explored the intricate relationship between an artist and their fans. It showed both the good and the bad about being famous on the internet; the more famous Eliza became the more fans expected from her. It was almost like they felt that Eliza owed them something when in fact Monstrous Sea was her form of escapism and they almost took that away from her. The only thing that I really had a problem with was the addition of the Monstrous Sea tidbits at the end of some chapters, it really threw off the pacing for me and I really wasn’t that interested in it, the artwork was beautiful though.
Eliza and Her Monsters was really an unexpected surprise. I really loved reading this book and following Eliza and Wallace’s paths and their shy but cute romance. If you love geekiness, fanfiction, adorable relationships, great mental illness representation and Fangirl then this is definitely the perfect book for you!
♡ Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia.