Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia (review)
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Reviewed by
Zappia, Francesca Eliza and Her Monsters. Greenwillow/HarperCollins, 2017[400p]
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-06-229013-7 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-06-229015-1 $9.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 7–10

Eliza, who’d rather spend her time online, has never fit in with her enthusiastically athletic family. What they don’t know is that Eliza’s webcomic, Monstrous Sea, published under a pseudonym, is wildly famous and fantastically lucrative. When a boy named Wallace transfers to her school, Eliza quickly learns that he’s a well-known fan who posts often on the boards, but by the time they have developed a romantic relationship and she learns that he is writing a prose version of her comic, it’s too awkward for her to admit that she’s the creator of the world he loves. When her clueless parents make her identity known, her world explodes just as she feared it would, not only with unwelcome interest from fans but with genuine hurt and [End Page 475] anger from Wallace and a significant writer’s block that she fears she can’t overcome to finish the comic’s narrative. We’ve seen variants on this premise before (Rowell’s Fangirl, BCCB 11/13, Oseman’s Radio Silence, BCCB 4/17), but Zappia uses it to focus on introversion and isolation, panic disorders, suicidal ideation, and a preferable online existence that offers more control for Eliza as long as she can stay hidden within it. The book itself promises a fandom as Zappia is releasing the online book series referenced as a favorite of Eliza and Wallace and may release the Monstrous Sea webcomic itself, which is teased throughout the book with art and segments by the author that subtly mirror and augment the emotional arc of the main text. Readers involved in fandoms and those who wish to understand and think about their reach are the audience for this.

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