The Internet is one of my favourite places to be in the whole wide world. I know that sounds so introvert-ish of me and it makes me look like I have no life beyond my laptop screen. But in retrospect, being online has given me a lot of opportunities, such as blogging and getting to talk about books, and I met a few cool friends along the way too. It’s a vast world – the Internet is – and it can get scary. So what’s the Internet got to do with this book? Well…
Eliza and Her Monsters is a subtle exploration of Internet life, nerd culture, and how all of that weighs in in real life. In a lot of aspects, it felt like I was reading the story of my life, or at least my early phases online complete with all the fandoms and teenage anxiety. But I digress – I loved this book and I think you will too.
Eliza Mirk is an artist and creator of the online-phenom webcomic, Monstrous Sea under the name LadyConstellation. She keeps her identity anonymous to her readers and amongst the forums except for her two online friends, Max and Emmy. You can catch her most of the time, if not always, drawing in her sketchbook and shutting off the entire world.
Right off the bat, Eliza is me. Well, minus being a crazy talented and super famous artist. What I like about Zappia’s characters is that they’re terribly authentic. Sure, they can be unlikeable or unreliable at most, but it’s to their advantage. It makes their stories stand out even more for everyone to relate with. And everything Eliza felt, I felt too, one way or another.
(here’s where it gets a little personal, feel free to skip)
I remember back in 2013, I was in eighth grade and I was pretty average. I wasn’t a part of the Coolest Clique in the Class. I would rather just be under everyone’s radar where it’s safe to read books and listen to punk rock (I had a phase lol). Because nobody was into the same stuff that I was. And then I discovered the fandom culture online. I created a fan account with a book character as a username, my favourite artist as my profile picture, and a vague and hippy bio with a quote or what. Online Miguel was way cooler than IRL Miguel, and for a while I was happy making friends with people online more than my classmates at school.
Until I found out that virtual happiness couldn’t make for real happiness, as in happiness in real life. And just like Eliza, the walls I’ve created around myself fell down. Because there’s more to life than being online for hours and days.
(end of sob story)
Besides Eliza, I also enjoyed the colourful cast of characters in this story. Starting off with Wallace Warland, a football player with a knack for writing fan fiction, who proves that what you see is not sometimes what you get. I liked his timidness, weirdly enough, and how he developed until the end of the story. There’s also Eliza’s younger brothers, Church and Sully, whom I adore. They made added an interesting and much needed depth to the story when it started to take the Romance Road. So there’s family relationships being explored here as well!
Broken people don’t hide from their monsters. Broken people let themselves be eaten.
After reading this book, Zappia proved herself to be a strong voice for advocating mental health in YA. She writes with sharp authenticity – she portrays these characters who struggle as normal people and not someone who deserves to be stigmatised. And as someone who suffers from anxiety, I’m glad that there are books like these that are changing perspectives all over the world.
Overall, this is another win for Zappia. If you have not read her work, well, you should definitely remedy that and read!
An Advanced Reader’s Copy was sent to me in exchange for a review. All thoughts are my own. Quotes may be subject to change in the finished copy.
Vector icons by Flaticon.