Eliza and Her Monsters Review
Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia: My Review
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Wow. I loved Eliza and Her Monsters so much more than I was expecting to. I think I can safely say that out of all the books I've read so far this year, this one has made me the happiest, and it came at a time when I truly needed it - I binge read it in a day.
So I knew the book was about a girl who writes a web comic and a boy who writes fanfiction, but I was NOT prepared for the sheer amount of geek and fandom and internet love that spills from this book and I lived for every single second of it. There was something I found extremely comforting about these nerdy quirky characters and the conversations they have. In relation to this, there's a huge emphasis on internet friends in the book, since 98% of Eliza's life is spent interacting with people online while her parents argue they don't count as "real friends". Zappia talks in abundance about how, for many people, the internet is a place where they can be a more authentic version of themselves without having to live up to the expectations projected onto them, while in real life you're sort of geographically bound to the people surrounding you and you don't have a lot of choice but to make an effort. I think this is something so many people will feel immensely understood by and I'm so glad this book exists for that.
Eliza was a character that just got me. In a multitude of different ways. She is funny and honest and her narrative kept me compelled the whole time. Even though I don't suffer from social anxiety like she does, I still found so much of myself within Eliza and that comes down to the fact that she is the definition of an introvert.
"I'm not normally one to take advice from my fictional characters, but there comes a point in every girl's life when she reaches a crossroads: a night alone with her sweatpants and her favourite television show, or a party with real, live, breathing people."
Not only is this book a love letter to fandom and online life, it's a shoutout to those who waver on the edge of the crowd, slowly getting used to the water instead of jumping in all at once, who would rather curl up all day on the sofa with a good book and wish existing in general was not so public. You are all as significant in the universe as the extroverts.
And then we have Wallace and Eliza, the weirdest and most perfect fictional couple. Their friendship-to-romance relationship was so incredibly precious; it's about learning to trust somebody, about embracing your passion, about finally letting another person in. I genuinely believe they were soul mates and it made me so happy. They communicate mostly through art and writing because neither of them are very good at talking and it was just so heartwrenching and well-done. I wish they were real people.
Wallace was such a valuable character all on his own too. He's this huge guy you expect to be a football player but no, he's actually a writer and has selective mutism and treats Eliza so damn well despite all the collective anxiety burning between them. At one point (they hadn't even been dating for a week) he takes her to a party in a used bookstore where everybody is dressed up as fictional characters and I'd never wanted to retreat into a book more in my entire life.
Overall, I'm so very glad that I got to dive into this world of art and comics and writing and teens who create magical worlds to escape into. Eliza and Her Monsters is now one of my all-time favourite contemporaries and just thinking about it makes me want to read it all over again (while I will, many many times).