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Eliza and Her Monsters

by Zappia, Francesca

Book list *Starred Review* Eliza's eponymous monsters are twofold: they are the stars of her viral webcomic, but they are also the anxiety and depression that keep her identity as the webcomic's creator shielded behind a wall of anonymity. As LadyConstellation, she has written and illustrated Monstrous Sea, inspiring a devoted online fandom worldwide. At school, however, she's just cripplingly shy Eliza Mirk: an average student who prefers a digital social life to a real one. She meets her match when Monstrous Sea fan-fiction writer Wallace transfers to her school and is too shy to even speak out loud. Through simple, tender notes passed back and forth, the two form a fast bond. But Eliza keeps her identity as LadyConstellation a secret even from Wallace, a decision that could cost her his trust forever. In her sophomore novel, Zappia (Made You Up, 2015) gracefully examines Eliza's complicated struggle with anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts, as she recognizes, The thought is still there, but the seriousness of it comes and goes. In addition to a vibrant fictional fandom akin to the Simon Snow following in Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl (2013), this is peppered with detailed illustrations from Eliza's webcomic, drawn by Zappia herself. A fervent celebration of online fandom, sure to leave readers craving an actual Monstrous Sea comic.--Kling, Caitlin Copyright 2017 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Eliza Mirk, 18, has a secret-one that only her immediate family knows: she is LadyConstellation, the creator of the hugely popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza's plan is to quietly finish high school (and the comic), then head off to college where she won't be known as the weird, friendless girl. Things don't go as planned after she meets Wallace, a diehard fan of Monstrous Sea and an equally broken fan fiction writer. Zappia (Made You Up) uses her own illustrated Monstrous Sea panels to punctuate elements of the narrative and to show how Eliza and Wallace find solace in fandom. LadyConstellation is eventually outed, painfully and publicly, causing Eliza to spiral into depression, self-harm, and thoughts of suicide. Zappia's lighter approach to these topics doesn't diminish the strength of this sensitive and compassionate story or the message mirrored in the themes of the webcomic: there are monsters in the world, both real and imaginary, and without support systems, those monsters can cause great harm. Ages 14-up. Agent: Louise Fury, Bent Agency. (May) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 9 Up-Eliza's parents have no understanding of her online life, from her friendships to the scope of the world she created. As a result, Eliza feels like an outsider, unless she's talking with her cyberfriends or working on her popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Wallace, a new boy at school, has been the first person to bring her out of her shell in ages. As their friendship grows, he confides his chilling secret, but Eliza still can't bring herself to share her web identity with him. When the truth comes out, will this secret shatter their relationship? Told in a series of letters, instant messages, comics, and prose, this book focuses on relationships and identity. It tackles social anxiety and asks serious questions: What makes a relationship valid in this era of social media? Are online interactions as meaningful as those in real life? Zappia's work will resonate with teens who write, create art, and love fandoms. Introverted readers will connect with the protagonist. VERDICT A must-have for all YA collections, especially where geek culture is celebrated.-Jennifer Rummel, Cragin Library, Colchester, CT Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.