Eliza and Her Monsters
By: Francesca Zappia
It’s a little odd to recognize a lot of your personality traits in a character, understand why they are doing things and they still get on your nerves. It’s also hard to want to like a book more than you did or to feel like you should like a book more than you did. Eliza suffers from anxiety (among other things) and is just trying to stay invisible through the end of school while writing the exceedingly popular web comic Monstrous Sea.
Everything shifts however when she meets a boy who may be Monstrous Sea’s biggest fan.
I had to think about it for a few days and while I wasn’t particularly fond of Eliza (and in some ways Wallace) they were good, flawed and relatable characters. I admire it when authors keep their mains real and are even willing to make them unlikable. It’s not like I hated them. They just annoyed me.
My main issue with Eliza was her relationship with her family. They try hard. She keeps a lot from them and there are a couple of times throughout the book where she figures that hey, maybe she could try harder to and reach out to them. But she never really does it. So when things blow up on that front I can understand it but I don’t feel sorry for her.
Also Eliza is always mad at her family for making her spend time with them minus her phone or actually wanting to know what she’s doing on her phone when she’s absorbed in it while spending time with them. She basically thinks they’re horrible for even asking and I’m sorry but PET PEEVE ALERT: I cannot deal with people who cannot make it through a meal without being attached to their phone.
I’m not horrible. Like if someone tells me that they’re worried about the kids or waiting for a call from someone they need to take. That’s one thing. But she wasn’t. If you’re having a meal with someone and your sucked into your phone and talking on there with friends and other people and ignoring the people across from you… I’m sorry. I find that rude. And bitching about how awful you find people for calling you out on that only annoys me more.
Sorry. I needed to vent every time she would talk about how awful they were for wanting to know what she was doing.
The romance is okay. It gets a little lovey-dovey for me but Wallace is an intriguing character with a lot of issues of his own. There was however this strange beat where something Eliza is having problems with becomes important for his future and yeah, I thought he was totally pressuring her. But then it seems like they put that behind them and he’s basically a “great” boyfriend.
My favorite part of this book dealt with the urge to create and fandoms belief that they own a creation and even the creator. Fandom culture is being dealt with more and more in books and movies but I genuinely liked this angle. Eliza corresponds with another author who basically gave up writing. She has her own issues about Monstrous Sea both a desire and a fear to finish her story and the question of is it really even hers any longer.
I wish we had seen more of Monstrous Sea in the book to explain its apparently huge popularity. There is another story mentioned in the book called Children of Hypnos that’s actually up on-line.
Trigger Warning: One character witnesses a suicide in this book. Eliza also suffers suicidal thoughts.
Recommend: Yes. Despite some of my issues with it. It’s a well-written book with some interesting ideas that other people may connect to a lot better than I did.