Book Review: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

“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.”

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Eliza and her Monsters  is the story of Eliza, the secret author of a famous online comic, Monstrous Sea. Eliza has a quiet life; she’s very introverted and lives most of her life online. In real life, she is anxious and doubts herself, but in her online world she is brave and confident. When she starts to make friends in real life, it becomes increasingly difficult for her to manage her secret identity.

Martha recommended this to me, and put it on my September TBR last year to make me finally pick it up. I had no idea what to expect from this one, a few people told me it was good and Martha usually recommends me good books, so I went into it expecting a good read. I absolutely loved it.

Eliza and her life swallowed me whole. I was worried for her, I loved her, I wanted to pick her up and cuddle her and keep her safe, I wanted to hurt the people who hurt her. I didn’t want to put it down.

Wallace was a mixed character for me. Initially, I really liked him. I love that they started their friendship passing notes and that he was a huge fan of her work without knowing it was hers. Nothing in their friendship is influenced by her comics or her internet fame. Eliza struggles with her feelings around this: she likes having a friend who likes her creations as well as she does, but having a friend who is writing her comics into a book without knowing who she is is complicated and weird.

When she is outed, everything changes. People are vile to her in their comments. We get a real sense of the entitlement some people feel towards her and her work. It’s not only upsetting, but genuinely scary at times. But the pressure from Wallace is the worst. A lot is depending on her finishing the comic and he starts to put a lot of pressure on her. Eliza feels this deeply, it starts to impact on her mental health in a big way. At times Wallace was cruel to her and I wanted to hit him with a brick.

Eliza and her Monsters is a brilliant book about life online, and the great parts of that as well as the pitfalls. It is an absolutely brilliant book. There aren’t many books that I plan to re-read but this is definitely one of them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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