[Blog Tour: Review] Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Eliza and Her Monsters 
   Title: Eliza and Her Monsters
   Author: Francesca Zappia
   Publisher: HarperCollins
   Release Date: May 30, 2017
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.
You've ever had the feeling like you want to cry after reading a book? Not because it's terrible or there's an intense cliffhanger, but because it's just flat-out amazing? And when I say cry, I don't really mean quiet tears streaming down your cheeks either - I mean loud sobbing complete with that tightness in your chest. And you don't want to cry just because you enjoyed the book either - rather, it's also because you find yourself relating so much to the main character. Well, folks, this all is how I feel about Eliza and Her Monsters.

The plot of Eliza and Her Monsters is pretty straightforward - high school senior Eliza is LadyConstellation, the creator of wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea (thus making her someone famous in the interwebs), but in school, she has become a master of keeping her head down, and making herself invisible around her peers. A tale of opposites, if I do say so myself. Also, other than Eliza's family, no one knows that she creates this comic and this story that has millions of fans because Eliza keeps her two worlds separate. This notion however gets challenged when Eliza meets Wallace, a transfer student who is a Monstrous Sea fan, and who quickly becomes her friend... and something more.

I feel like Eliza's story is something most of us living in the 21st century can relate to, with keeping your online activities separate from your day to day life. I don't think it's as pronounced now in 2017 as it was 15 years ago, but back then, practically no one on forums and communities you are a member of know what your real name is. You are known by your username, and while your username can be traced to to a blog, that one doesn't have your name either. The only people who know are those you consider your friends, and not just people you talk to every now and then on the forums. I remember being especially meticulous about this when I was younger - I wasn't a BNF (big name fan) by any means, but there were only a handful of people whom I met online who both know my username and who I also text or email. It's the same way that only people I consider good friends know my mobile number and my address. It's about being private and careful about personal details. I really understood where Eliza was coming from, and I related to her from the get go.

Another recurring plot line in Eliza and Her Monsters is how her parents may know about Monstrous Sea and her online life, they don't really understand it, and I would go as far as to say that they didn't try to understand it either. They're always encouraging Eliza to live in the real world, to play outside, and to spend more time with her family without the presence of her sketchpad or her smartphone. I get why they're concerned, and I do think that some of their worrying is valid, but I do believe that this is the generation gap rearing its head. Eliza's parents believe that she has no friends, and despite Eliza constantly telling them about her two best friends whom she met online, Max and Emmy, her parents don't consider the two Eliza's 'real' friends. This is something that really frustrated me. In our world today, we talk to most of our friends all over the world via different apps, so it really bothers me that there are people who don't think that people you meet on the internet are 'real' just because you don't bump into them when you're walking your dog or whatever. Eliza's parents' hearts are in the right place, however, and I like how they gradually started communicating with Eliza and actually getting to know who she is and what she does instead of subconsciously judging.

We have a handful of characters in the book, but the two I connected to the most are Eliza and Wallace. I truly feel like I've gone through what Eliza went through in the book (though I'm nowhere near a creator of something that has millions of fans) because I was immersed in fandom from a very early age. I also loved reading about how both Eliza and Wallace used fandom to help them through both everyday life and tragedy because I have done the same. Fandom is an important part of life for many people, and it truly was a pleasure to read about two people who feel the exact same way. From reading the blurb alone you know what's going to happen well into the book and to whom it will bring tension to, and reading how Eliza and Wallace's relationship progressed was elating, pain-inducing, relaxing, and frustrating at different points, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

I have yet to find a book that I've read this year that I have related to so much. This is YA at its best, and Francesca Zappia has made me a fan of hers for life. I recommend this book to everyone who has ever been in a fandom, and anyone who enjoys a good book, really. Oh, and if you're a fan of beautiful drawings? This book is for you.

Rating: 5 Stars