Eliza and Her Monsters

Eliza Mirk is a high school senior who lives in Indiana, but only in the technical sense--she's a pariah at school and feels no connection with her cheerfully athletic family. Eliza really lives online, in chats with friends she's never met in person and on the forums for Monstrous Sea, the massively popular webcomic she's created under a pseudonym. "It's so much easier to deal with people when you feel like they can't touch you," she explains. When the silent Wallace transfers into her school, Eliza is prepared to ignore and be ignored by him, too--until she realizes he's a Monstrous Sea fan. Eliza cautiously starts to open up to Wallace even as she hides the fact that she's the creator of his favorite comic.

Author Francesca Zappia (Made You Up) punctuates prose sections with Monstrous Sea artwork and online chats, mimicking the way one dips between real life and cyberspace. Zappia aims the book squarely at teenagers who have emotional walls up, fully taking Eliza's side when she explains why she prefers to stay absorbed in her sketchbook, but also hinting that Eliza's family might not be so bad if she lets them in. Another interesting thrust of the story is Eliza's relationship with her readers. Zappia is a popular author on tumblr and Wattpad, and she pointedly delves into the way fandoms can smother the creators they love. Eliza and Her Monsters is a compelling read on the labyrinths of imagination and the simple pleasures of ordinary life. --Ali Davis, freelance writer and playwright

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