“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 completely sure of myself, it unchains the doubt and lets it run wild. Even when I know it’s coming, I can’t stop it.” ― Francesca Zappia,
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.
I cannot rave enough about how much I loved Eliza and Her Monsters.
Originally, I got Francesca Zappia’s novel in an OwlCrate and had zero knowledge of the book. Honestly, I was interested from reading the synopsis, but I was more interested after reading Zappia’s note to her readers that came with my OwlCrate.
Zappia wrote a story that feels like an ode to fans. Like she said in her note to readers, it’s for the readers that dream beyond the page. It’s for those that love fanfiction and fan art or maybe even feel a little isolated from the real world.
It’s funny because I identified with the story. I recently admitted to Jenn and Caitlynn that on a normal day, I’m just a strange person and on a bad day you’re lucky if you can get me out of bed. To say I had a few things in common with Eliza feels like an understatement. I felt like I was reading an old diary entry of my time in high school. I think it’s incredibly important to write stories about people struggling with their mental health, but I often find myself feeling like it’s not relatable.
Eliza’s story is.
From the anxiety she feels among groups of people to the severe stress she feels about just leaving home, Eliza’s struggles are real. Even more, Zappia finds a way to show the extreme guilt that Eliza feels as she struggles to meet the expectations of the people around her.
Don’t even get me started on how invested I became in Eliza’s Monstrous Sea. As I read through the panels I found myself wishing that Eliza’s monsters were a real series that I could follow. Even more, I wish there was a real Monstrous Sea forum that I could join and experience.
Eliza and Her Monsters is beautifully written with amazing artwork and a compelling story to boot. I was invested from the first page and sobbing by the last. This was an easy 5/5 stars for me.