August 25, 2017

There Are Monsters in the Sea • Eliza and Her Monsters

Eliza and Her Monsters book cover
I love, love, love when I go into a story knowing the bare minimum, and end up falling in love with it. Eliza and Her Monsters, if you haven't already guessed, turned out to be one such read for me this year. 

It's about a girl named Eliza Mirk, who is shy and solitary in real life, but who also happens to be LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the incredibly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. She enjoys her life online, spending many of her days and nights in contact with online friends, fans and working on the next chapters of Monstrous Sea. Everything changes when Wallace Warland, one of Monstrous Sea's most well-known fan fiction writers, moves to her school. After a couple of interactions, he's coaxing Eliza out of her online shell, and Eliza starts to wonder if opening herself up to real life is actually a good thing. But when the secret of her identity is revealed, everything Eliza has so carefully constructed falls apart.

I honestly am so glad that I read this one. Zappia does an excellent job weaving together the tale of a girl who loves her online life, enjoys creating her art, is dealing with her own anxieties and discomfort in real life and meets someone who challenges her perspective and experiences in ways she could not have expected. Eliza's struggles with anxiety, depression and creativity felt so raw and so real, and I found a number of things to be relatable on a personal level. But even though there were also very heavy moments woven into the story, there were also lighter things - like fun conversations, sweet moments and likable secondary characters who I instantly took to.

(Really, there is only one thing that really bugged me when I read this story. It happens in the latter third, so no specifics to prevent spoilers. I don't necessarily think it's an unrealistic thing, but it personally felt uncomfortable.)

All in all, Eliza and Her Monsters was really compelling. I really enjoyed Eliza's journey in this novel (and the excerpts of Monstrous Sea that were popped in, which was so much fun), and I am so glad that I finally had a chance to experience it for myself. I'm happy to recommend this one as a surprise gem for me this year, and hope that more people check it out!

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
Publisher: Harper Collins | Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Source: Hardcover from the publisher (Thanks!)


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