Her story is a phenomenon. Her life is a disaster.
In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.
Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.
But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.
Description taken from Goodreads.
After a few months of being relatively detached from the blogosphere, I resurfaced to find some of my favorite debut authors from years past had made a comeback, and I was thrilled to see that Francesca Zappia was among them. I loved Zappia’s Made You Up so much in 2015, for everything from its humor to its supporting characters to how it handled mental illness, and couldn’t wait to see what else she’d come up with.
And, well… it wasn’t quite second book syndrome, because it wasn’t terrible, but this book definitely didn’t hit me as hard as it hit most people.
Eliza and Her Monsters was downright cliché in its plot, and everything I loved about Made You Up was watered down. The supporting cast was still great, but it wasn’t quite as refreshing as it was in Zappia’s first book. The problems and personalities of the main characters were fleshed out, but they weren’t anything special. And it was undeniably still Zappia’s writing, but it had a certain kind of underwater deadness to it. The right words were there, and they must’ve been in some semblance of the correct order to induce an emotional response, but the desired result never came. Try as I might, I couldn’t care about the characters or the storyline.
If I had to point out just one thing that went wrong with the story and dragged it under, it would have to be the pacing. Towards the middle of the story, the plot stopped moving along, and the middle 15-20% just felt like filler. I recognized a little bit of this in Made You Up as well, but it wasn’t nearly as long, bland, and drawn out as in this one. I get the inkling that maybe the editor thought that was Zappia’s strength–to fill in that blank space with events that make the story meaningful–and if that’s the case, then the editor isn’t entirely incorrect. In fact, much of what I loved about the plot of Zappia’s first book was her signature humor and how she brought out the best and the worst in her characters in those filler segments. It just didn’t work quite as well here, and this book could’ve lost 20-30 pages and been better for it.
I’ll still be waiting for Zappia’s next book, but this one isn’t nearly of the caliber that Made You Up was. The only thing about it that was endearing the whole way through was the premise. There were parts of Eliza’s awkwardness and anxiety that were handled well, and I enjoyed the themes that were like a simultaneous love letter to the Internet and a melancholy wonderings of an artist stuck between being an artist and being “loyal” to the fans. Of the fandom books I’ve read, I love it because it isn’t about a fangirl, but a creator, and it’s reasonably well-written, so I would recommend it for those reasons, but not as the first Francesca Zappia book someone reads. 2.5 stars.