Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Rating: ★★★★★ | Release Date: 05/30/17 | Contemporary | 385 pages | Buy Now !

At school, Eliza Mirk is the weird girl with no friends who never talks. At home she’s the black sheep among her athletic-obsessed family. She doesn’t think anyone can truly understand her until she meets the new boy in school, Wallace Warland. They bond over their love of Monstrous Sea, a popular fantasy webcomic. He’s the first person who gets what it means to have internet friends and be apart of an active online fandom--Wallace and his friends are BNF fan creators in the Monstrous Sea fan community. But what Wallace doesn’t know is that she’s not just any fan, she’s LadyConstellation--the anonymous creator of Monstrous Sea.

This book absolutely captivated me, I devoured the whole thing in in one day and I haven’t done that in years. Zappia (who I believe used to be a book blogger) has this amazing handle on the importance of online friendship, what it means to negotiate your online self with your IRL self, the inner workings of rabid online fandoms while also incorporating important themes about mental illness and self care for creative people.

This book could be seen a spiritual successor to Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and in a lot of ways it is but I think Zappia’s specificity in relation to how fandoms work brings this book to a whole new level. There are just these casual mentions of things like shipping, cosplay and fanart. I’ve spent some time lurking around fandoms and she got it all down perfectly

 Eliza’s parents don’t understand her online life and have no concept of how popular Monstrous Sea has become. They’re only dimly aware she has a webcomic (which I related to as an adult with parents who are only dimly aware of this blog) but as the book goes on her parents make efforts to understand. I also liked that they were sex positive and instead of freaking out when she starts seeing Wallace they just take her to the gynecologist for birth control without making a big deal of it. Speaking of Wallace and Eliza, I dislike most romance in YA books, but I was here for this one.

I do think this book is probably best read in print format. There are interstitial snippets from the webcomic in the text and while you can see them on the Kindle version I read I have a feeling it’s much better in the print version.

There is this John Green quote about nerds being unironically enthusiastic about stuff and this book is basically that quote in book form.

I read this book around the same time I read Fast Connection by Santino Hassell and Megan Erickson. This a  very adult M/M romance novel  but there is a subplot about  one of the hero’s teen sister losing herself in gaming fandom to escape the chaos in their home and these two books actually paired really nicely together. It was like seeing the outsider perspective.

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