Eliza and Her Monsters
by Francesca Zappia
Eliza and Her Monsters is the story of seventeen-year-old Eliza who lives a whole secret life online as the creator of a wildly successful webcomic Monstrous Seas. I read this book in one sitting. Francesca Zappia just seems to know how to do it for me. I loved Made You Up and although Eliza has an entirely different tone I enjoyed it as well.
Fandoms to me are tricky. I always question what it means to be truly a fan of something. Does that love have to be public in some way? Am I a real fan if I never talk about my love online? Am I really a fan of anything? I had a whole conversation with a friend about this, and she just laughed and said that I might just be overthinking things a tad. Who me? Never. The online fandom world
It was almost impossible for me to read this book and not compare it to Fangirl. I love Rainbow Rowell, but I enjoyed Eliza and her Monsters more than Fangirl. I think for primarily two reasons: 1) I live Eliza much more than I like Cat and 2) I was more intrigued with Monstrous Seas than with Simon Snow's world. I haven't even read Carry On, but I have already googled Monstrous Seas to see if it was a real thing. Sadly, it does not seem to be.
I really liked Eliza. Her utter disdain for anything having to do with high school and socializing in person felt real to me. I recognized her. She was funny, vulnerable, and just bitter enough to remain likable. She is a hard worker and very goal-orientated. It is easy to see how she became successful. It isn't enough to have the ideas or to put out content. Her grasp of quality control that is superior to many adults. She has a distance relationship with her brothers. She loves them, but as they grow older, it seems that she has less and less in common with them. I related strongly to this as I have the same sort of, "We're related. But How?" relationship with my siblings.
I liked her with Wallace. He was often the softer and more vulnerable character, and when she is with him, she has to stretch slightly beyond what she is usually comfortable with. I was firmly in their camp. No breaking up for you two. I mean it. You are together forever now... I do wish that there was more of an exploration of his background and issues, but I understand why it didn't happen.
One thing that I was not so impressed with was Eliza's parents. They are supposed to be 25 years older than she is making them in their early forties. They are completely clueless about all things internet and tech. They don't understand what it means to be internet famous or that Eliza has an adult level income coming in because of it. The excuse is that they are old and so incapable of understanding it. *sideeye 1) no 2) your child spends 80% of her time online. Figure out what she is doing and make sure she is safe. #beaparentdammit 3) this is the opposite of the "digital native" argument and makes me want to scream and scream 4) no again. Eliza's parent's general incompetence causes me to make a sour face thinking about it, but it didn't ruin the book for me.
Eliza and her Monsters is another solid book by Francesca Zappia. I liked the writing, the characters stand up on their own, the content is well-researched, and it was genuinely fun to read.