Friday, June 2, 2017

Review: Eliza and Her Monsters -Francesca Zappia

Eliza and Her Monsters
Francesca Zappia
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads

Eliza is an introvert, who leads a double life. To most, she is Eliza Mirk, the odd girl with no friends, who doesn't talk to anyone. Her clothing is chosen in order to camouflage her from the world, and to help her shrink into herself and be as invisible as possible. Underneath all that is LadyConstellation. Her online persona is the creator of one of the most popular webcomics, Monstrous Sea, which spawned a fierce and loyal fandom. Online, she has many fans, and even a few good friends. Online, she can express herself and without revealing too much. Enter Wallace Warland, one of the most popular Monstrous Sea fanfic writers in the fandom. Eliza had worked so hard to keep her online world separate from her everyday, and worries that the wall between the two may come tumbling down, destroying them both.

This book was such a joy to read, and I related to the story and Eliza on so many levels.

Eliza and teenaged me shared a lot of traits. We were both introverts with some level of anxiety disorder, who were drawn to more quiet pursuits as our egregious families looked on in horror. I did not have the internet to fill that social hole when I was a kid, but I do appreciate the outlet it provides for many people. I love that Zappia challenged the ideas regarding online friendships, and showed in multiple ways, that online friends can be real friends.

Zappia really captured the thrill of the fandom, of bonding over a common interest. I have never quite reached THAT level of obsession with any of my interests, it's just not in my personality, but I understand how a common love can bring people together. Just commenting on reviews or posting in forums with people, who love the same books as me, leaves me with a titillation that is just as strong as when I go to a con and chat up someone as I wait on a line. In this book, the shared love of Monstrous Sea is a pathway, which allowed Eliza to make a new friend and broaden her world. It actually opened up a slew of new experiences for her.

Although Zappia did paint a rather positive picture of online life, she also showed that one cannot only live a virtual life. Eliza grew a lot as a person throughout this story. She was a different person at the end, and her life was enriched by the new friendships she forged offline. Not only were new relationships formed, she also worked to strengthen and improve her existing relationships.
"Broken people don't hide from their monsters. Broken people let themselves be eaten."
Eliza was slightly broken, and she knew she was broken. I was really proud of her for all the positive steps she took to become more whole. She put a few cracks in her walls, and opened herself up to new people. She reached out to her family, and tried to show them how much she loved them.  She sought professional help when necessary, and she stepped back from things she loved, when she saw they were destroying her.
"I think that's why they call it a breakthrough. It cracks you open and lets light in."
Eliza had a wonderful, but flawed family. They didn't quite understand her, or at least she didn't think they all did, but there was so much love. They tried, and they made mistakes, but they never stopped trying, and some of them surprised me. Sometimes your punk preteen brothers can be one of your biggest supporters. Zappia did such a lovely job exploring the family dynamic, and I couldn't have asked for a better family for Eliza.

And now for my favorite part of any story: the romance. This was a slow burn, and it was so sweet. My thoughts on Wallace were all heart-eyes, and then, I grew very angry with him, when he was sort of being a selfish twit, but then I forgave him and he wormed his way back into my heart. Seriously, he was the words to her pictures!!! What more can you ask for in a relationship?!

This book was fun, but had a lot of depth. It touched on some pretty hefty topics: PTSD, depression, suicide, anxiety, but it was tempered with lots of love, friendship, romance, fanfic, and lovely illustrations.

This book was near perfect for me. I loved the story, the characters, the story within the story, and it gave me many feels. I am struggling to properly express my love and affection, but believe me, there is so much of both for this book. Zappia has earned a place on my go-to author list with this book.

**I would like to thank Edelweiss and the publisher for the advanced copy of this book. Quotes are from an ARC and may change upon publication.










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14 comments:

  1. Oh this makes me even more excited for this one!!! Lovely review!!

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    1. It was wonderful. I want to check out the artwork in the physical book, because I feel like the DRC doesn't do the illustrations justice

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  2. I've been on the fence about buying this book, but your lovely review won me over. I'm definitely going to give it a try. I love slow burn romances...EEEKK.

    ~Cassie @ Rants and Raves of a Bibliophile

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    1. I have serious love for this book. No regrets.

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  3. Any time an author can pull off a cute, heartfelt story paired with serious topics, I'm impressed! It sounds like Zappia understands her audience, and from what I've seen around the blogging community, this story really resonates with people. The fact that this includes artwork is extra exciting, because I love illustrated novels!

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    1. Zappia is really great at writing these kinds of stories. I love her story telling, and yes, the artwork was a definite plus.

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  4. This sounds like such a great book!! Great review! I love how you can tell how much Eliza grew and that the book focused on online and offline relationships. I need to read this one!!

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    1. I agree - you need to read this one! =)
      Seriously, all the buzz you are hearing online about his book is true. It was wonderful.

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  5. I really loved Zappia's debut Made You Up so it makes me so happy to hear that this is just as good! :) She has a gift for writing such emotional, realistic stories. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! <3

    ~ Zoe @ Stories on Stage

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  6. Love, love, love this review, Sam! I was already curious about this one but every single point you made in your review just makes me want to read it more.
    Tanya @ Girl Plus Books

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    1. I enjoyed this book immensely and really like Zappia's style. I know I will be reading many more books from her.

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  7. I've heard a lot of good things about this book. I heard a lot of good things about the author's first book as well so I think I may have to invest in a copy of this.

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    1. I think if you buy this, there will be no regrets.

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