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Eliza and Her Monsters

Cover: 'Eliza and Her Monsters'

Staff Review: "Eliza and Her Monsters" by Francesca Zappia

★★★★★

In real life, Eliza strives for invisibility at school, where she’s known for being quiet, awkward, and (in the eyes of her classmates) a freak, and at home, where she’s the unathletic anomaly. In the digital world, she’s Lady Constellation, the creator of a wildly popular webcomic, Monstrous Sea, and her two best friends (Max and Emmy) are the keepers or her secret identity, website, and fan forums. When a new student, Wallace, transfers into the school early in their senior year, Eliza uncharacteristically sticks up for him when two jocks target him, and a tentative friendship is born. Wallace prefers to communicate via the written/typed/texted world and rarely speaks, which is fine with Eliza, who is accustomed to online chats. When Eliza discovers that Wallace is not just a fan of Monstrous Sea, but is the most popular author of Monstrous Sea-inspired fan-fiction, she doesn't know if she should tell him her secret identity, let alone how she would tell him. What will happen if she allows her two identities to merge? What are the risks if she doesn’t?

I simply adored this book, which is a must-read for any fans of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl. It’s a testament to the power of creation in exploring one’s identity (and monsters) and how the real world often leaves much to be desired, which can feel especially true in high school. I enjoyed the inclusion of pages of the comic (drawn by the author) and the online messages between characters which serve to highlight the authenticity of Eliza’s online friendships. It may be a book about fans, fandoms, and creators, but it is grounded in Eliza’s reality and is willing to embrace the awkwardness, anxiety, and isolation of her world.   

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

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