Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia | Book Review

February 13th 2018
★★★★★

I typically don’t give books five stars. A book needs to click on all levels for me, and this book clicked on every level. The first book I read by Zappia was Made You Up, when I picked it up on a whim while on a Texas roadtrip. I really enjoyed it, and was excited when I saw a lot of hype about this book on Twitter and YouTube. That being said, I was very nervous to go into this book. The premise of the book immediately sold me: a girl (Eliza) who creates a successful and very popular webcomic meets the most famous fan fiction writer of her comic when he starts going to her high school, and she doesn’t immediately reveal who she is.

This book, like Zappia’s first novel, deals with heavy topics. While her first book was told from the point of view of a girl with schizophrenia, this book deals with anxiety and the pressure to be perfect. Eliza is not very outgoing. She keeps to herself in the real world, and doesn’t have a lot of friends. Online is where she can be herself. She has tons of fans, though she chooses to remain anonymous and experience their excitement about her creation from the point of view of a fan.

Getting into spoiler territory; toward the end of the book, Eliza’s identity as the writer of the webcomic is revealed and her anonymity is taken away from her. Eliza cannot deal with this fact, which has consequences with her being unable to keep creating the end of her comic. The pressure to create, and the pressure of perfection is a very real part of generalized anxiety disorders for a lot of people, and was something that was extremely relatable. The characters in general felt very real. Eliza has trouble relating to her little brothers because they don’t have shared interests. She can’t relate to her parents because they’re more athletic than she is and push her to be like them. Eliza’s romance feels like a very small aspect of this book, even though it’s one of the central elements. All of the characters felt very real, and the reader can see Eliza’s isolation for what it is; both self made, and a defense mechanism.

I read this book in one day. I sat down at my lunch break and started it, and was immediately hooked. I finished it that night, with a lot of tears, and tissues. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to create anything, or anyone who has felt like they couldn’t.

-Siobhan