There Are Monsters In The Sea — Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia {Book Review}

Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca ZappiaTitle: Eliza and her Monsters
Author: Francesca Zappia
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Release Date: May 30th, 2017
Standalone/Series: Standalone
Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary

Goodreads link

My rating in stars: 4,5 stars
My rating in words: LOVED IT!

WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

Her story is a phenomenon. Her life is a disaster.

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.

MY THOUGHTS (SPOILER-FREE):

“Broken people don’t hide from their monsters. Broken people let themselves be eaten.”

This book was adorable, real and relatable and I am just sorry I had this on my shelf for months and took so long to read it. Because once I finally started… I finished it in about 2 days. It’s that good.

Eliza and her Monsters is an ode to fandom and online friends. It explores so many things relevant to today’s society such as the question if online friends are real friends (oh yes they totally are) and the power of an online fandom, especially for the online content creator themselves.

Eliza is one of my favorite characters I’ve ever read about. She’s a shy girl who loved eggs, dislikes exercise and prefers to spend her time online. She’s also the creator of a super famous web comic called Monstreous Sea, which she created anonymously. And I just related to Eliza so much. She felt like me, except for the fact that she’s super talented at drawing and a megastar online and I… well, I fangirl about books online, hah!

Wallace was also such a great character. He has his own issues and past but he quickly bonds with Eliza over their shared love of Monstrous Sea and they start a friendship that slowly turns into something more. I loved their interactions, especially because they were often relating to the fandom and art (since Wallace is a writer, and loves writing fanfiction) and a lot of their talks are in writing. I have a thing for talking in writing, probably because I personally also feel more comfortable writing than talking and I feel like it allows people to be more honest and real with each other. So Wallace and Eliza’s interactions really resonated with me and tugged on my heartstrings.

The mental health rep in this story was also so well written. The book tackles topics such as anxiety, depression and even suicidal thoughts in a way that felt very real to me. Especially the reactions to it from other characters, who didn’t always respond in the right way to it, even if they meant well.

As I said before, I adored that this book focused on online friendships. We get a lot of chats between Eliza and her two best friends, Emmy and Max. And I loved that even though they lived so far away from eachother and had different ages (Emmy’s 14, Eliza’s 17 and Max is in his early twenties), they were there for each other and just had a strong connection. It really showed the beauty of online friendships, even if they are not always understood.

The family aspect in this story also deserves some praise. Eliza’s family was very present in her story but also flawed in a realistic way. Though Eliza never feels like she fits in with her family because their interests couldn’t be further apart. (There’s a scene where they force Eliza to go on a camping trip with them, while taking away her phone and sketchbook and I felt that whole scene in my soul) Her parents love her and are proud of her, even if they don’t understand her or what she has accomplished. Her brothers tease her and make fun of her, but they are there for her when she needs it. This family just won me over completely , flaws and all.

And if all that hasn’t convinced you yet to give this a try, allow me to mention that the story is also filled with beautiful art from Monstreous Sea that you’ll definitely wish was a real comic.

Overall, I adored this book and highly recommend it. If you love fandom stories, a whole lot of internet dynamics, great mental health rep, relatable and adorable characters, online friendships and flawed but lovable families, then Eliza and her Monsters is THE book for you.

Favorite quotes:

“You found me in a constellation.”

“There is a small monster in my brain that controls my doubt.
The doubt itself is a stupid thing, without sense or feeling, blind and straining at the end of a long chain. The monster though, is smart. It’s always watching, and when I am cmpletely sure of myself, it unchains the doubt and lets it run wild. even when I know it’s coming, I can’t stop it.”

“Maybe that’s normal. The things you care most about are the ones that leave the biggest holes.”

“Like life, what gives a story its meaning is the fact that it ends. Our stories have lives of their own—and its up to us to make them mean something.”

“I learned years ago that it’s okay to do this. To seek out small spaces for me, to stop and imagine myself alone. People are too much sometimes. Friends, acquaintances, enemies, strangers. It doesn’t matter; they all crowd. Even if they’re all the way across the room, they crowd. I take a moment of silence and think:
I am here. I am okay.”

“If you want the motivation back, you must feed it Feed it everything. Books, television, movies, paintings, stage plays, real-life experience. Sometimes feeding simply means working, working through nonmotivation, working even when you hate it.”

“I do have friends. Maybe they live hundreds of miles away from me, and maybe I can only talk to them through a screen, but they’re still my friends. They don’t just hold Monstrous Sea together. They hold me together.
Max and Emmy are the reason any of this exists.”

“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”

HAVE YOU READ Eliza and her Monsters? WHAT DID YOU THINK ABOUT IT?

20 thoughts on “There Are Monsters In The Sea — Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia {Book Review}

    • Lindsey Habets says:

      Oh yes, Wallace’s reaction really irked me as well, but then I thought that (unfortunately) that’s how a lot of real people would react too as not everyone is as understanding of mental illness as they should be or only think about their own feelings. So while it upset me, I did feel like it was realistic… But yes, their friendship turning into a romance was so sweet and the illustrations were amazing 🙂

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