So I’d pre-ordered Eliza and Her Monsters back in February (when I still thought it was fine to spend all of my money on books instead of, I dunno, food and gas?) because it sounded like a really awesome story that I could relate to in some small areas (like being a part of an online community and having people that I talk to online and creating things, etc.). Let me tell you right now that if you like Fangirl, you’re going to love this book because it’s like Fangirl on crack. Now to go into a semi-spoiler free reaction. I don’t give away anything major, but I do talk about the book, so be warned if you’re super sensitive to spoilers. But again, I don’t go into detail about plot or anything like that.
I am amazed by how much I love this book. After finishing one read yesterday afternoon, I still wasn’t ready to start Empire of Storms so instead, I thought “Why don’t I pick up that new modern contemporary stand alone?” A little after 3 am this morning, I finished reading it. There were actual tears running down my face.
Eliza is the creator of an insanely popular webcomic (that is obviously online). I know it’s unfair to compare to Fangirl, but I’m going to for just a minute, and it will surprisingly be in Eliza’s favor. Cath had her issues: there were times when I wanted to shake her for being so closed-off from the rest of the world that she didn’t understand even the most obvious of things. As much as Cath and Eliza are alike online, they completely differ in that respect. There was never a single point in the story where I wanted to pull Eliza off the page and yell at her for being a blinded hermit. Why? Because it was all believable. The way that Eliza was written so perfectly describes what it’s like in reality to live through things that are tough. From family and friendship issues to disorders, Eliza tackles them all, and like real life, she doesn’t always win.
If I could, I’d wrap Wallace in a blanket and just read and write with him for hours on end. For not being an incredibly long novel, Zappia really made me fall in love with all of the characters. Yes, Wallace was perfect, but how about Eliza’s two online friends or the group of Wallace’s friends? Even though they weren’t on the page nearly as often as Eliza and Wallace, I was still drawn to them. I still felt like I knew them even though I didn’t see them that often. Does that sound crazy?
I’m not going to go into depth, as promised, on the plot points of this novel. However, I do want to say that I believe that everything that happened fit together like a perfect, powerful, believable puzzle. It wasn’t just a story about a boy and a girl. Maybe it seems like that from the cover, but this is a story about Eliza. Make no mistake, Wallace is a huge part, as is expected, but to me, it isn’t in any way focused around him. Everyone plays a vital role in supporting Eliza, but it’s not their story. I wanted to know more about the lives of her online friends and more about Wallace and more about pretty much everyone because it felt like it was a story that covered everyone and everything that had to do with Eliza’s life, and in some ways, it is. The fact that I wanted more of these characters isn’t a bad thing, either! It’s like not Zappia didn’t include them enough in the novel, in my opinion, but I could just read a whole story about Eliza’s two online friends and be completely satisfied because they were like real people with real issues that I cared about as much as Eliza.
Because I absolutely recommend this novel, I will say that there are some darker themes; it’s not all webcomic pages and chat windows and happiness. Zappia crawls into the hearts and minds of these characters and uproots their souls for our reading pleasure. Maybe that sounds a little twisted and I shouldn’t word it that way, but it’s important to recognize that not everything in life ends in happily ever after. There are issues in real life that remain forever and always haunt us. Zappia explores these types of problems. While I absolutely love it, I do advise that you just take into account that this isn’t going to be absolutely skipping-through-a-meadow happy the whole time. With that in mind, I do recommend this to anyone who loves creative energy mixed with friendships and online social settings. Honestly, I think that anyone could read this and enjoy it. It’s just amazing. I love it.