Eliza and Her Monsters, by Fracesca Zappia

“I don't want to be the girl who freezes when confronted with new friends, or the outside world, or the smallest shred of intimacy. I don't want to be alone in a room all the time. I don't want to feel alone in a room all the time, even when there are other people around.”

31931941Title: Eliza and Her Monsters
Author: Francesca Zappia
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance
Greenwillow Books
Release Date: May 30th, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Rating: 5 Stars

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she 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.

Wow.... I can honestly say that I have never encountered a book that resonated with me so deeply. Eliza and Her Monsters is a true gem in the steadily growing wasteland that is YA literature. 

Zappia managed to tell the story of a young girl suffering from depression/anxiety in the most raw, relatable way. I suffered heavily from social anxiety, depression, and panic attacks for the majority of my life and to see something I deal with every single day (though not necessarily to such an extreme) portrayed so realistically, is such a breath of fresh air. And the author didn't feel the need to explain her behavior away either. There were no meaningless platitudes like "Oh, well it gets better!" or "You just have to put your mind to it!" or even worse, "It's all in your head". It took Eliza months of struggle to come to terms with her anxiety, and even then, she still has times where she regresses. She lashes out, pushes people away, isolates herself from the ones she loves, and even contemplates suicide. Zappia does not shy away from portraying the ugly side of mental disorders and for this, I am so grateful.

As for the plot itself, this book will forever be right up there with Fangirl in terms of nostalgia for me. Eliza is the creator of a wildly popular web comic, Monstrous Sea, and her love interest, Wallace, writes the most popular fanfiction in the fandom. Let me tell you, this was my shit in high school. My best friend and I used to RPG our own Zelda characters (good times).

I read fanfiction. 
I collected merch.
I attended cons. 

To an extent, I did all the things these characters do and that's why I loved them so much. Reading about Eliza and Wallace was like looking back in time. To some degree, I even understood Eliza's struggle in trying to produce the best work you possibly can, while simultaneously pleasing everyone around you. Fans can be vultures and I feel for well known authors and artists who are constantly hounded to push out new material, regardless of what may be going on in their personal lives.

“Creating art is a lonely task, which is why we introverts revel in it, but when we have fans looming over us, it becomes loneliness of a different sort. We become cage animals watched by zoo-goers, expected to perform lest the crowd grow bored or angry. It's not always bad. Sometimes we do well, and the cage feels more like a pedestal.”

My sophomore year, I wrote a fairly popular Naruto fanfic (don't judge), which lasted for two years. I had a modest following with a handful of really persistent fans. My grandma was diagnosed with cancer and passed away when I was seventeen. I lost the motivation to continue and eventually deleted the story. People were pissed and even eight years later, I will log in to my old email on a whim and still see messages asking if I ever plan on bringing it back. Like Eliza, I learned that just because you create something, doesn't mean you owe it to anyone but yourself to finish what you started. You can quit or push through, but ultimately you have to choose to do it for yourself. 

I could honestly keep going on about this book, but this review is beginning to drag on, so I will simply end it here. If her future works are anything like Eliza and Her Monsters, I cannot wait to see what Zappia has in store for us.

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