Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia was the book in Owlcrate’s Comic Explosion box (In May. Yeah, it’s been a while). AND BOY DID IT EXPLODE WITH COMICS!
It’s about a teenage girl (Eliza) who writes and illustrates an online comic series. She is very popular and anonymous. Eliza also has a touch of social anxiety and some mental health issues (#samesies). She is a nerd living in a jock world. It’s a typical YA novel and I loved every second of it.
Eliza meets a boy and her life is changed forever. (Literally. Her secret is revealed, she has a panic attack, and is extorted by her boyfriend who is also her biggest fan).
The reason I love this book is the way it deals with her panic attack when it happens: it doesn’t and it’s brilliant! She feels it coming, she blacks out, and then she wakes up in the hospital. Most YA books over analyze, over-describe, and over-hype panic attacks. But not this book! She has the attack and then sits in her room and doesn’t talk to anyone for a bit. WHICH IS TOTALLY NORMAL! Then her boyfriend tries to get her to finish her comic so he can draw it and get a full ride to art school but she’s creatively blocked and can’t which makes him furious.
This is the part that bugs me. He has the opportunity to go to school for his passion, but only if she finishes her comic. He gets really angry when she says that she can’t think of anything and her brain is blank. THAT IS INFURIATING ….ly normal for a person who does not understand panic attacks. This boy does know a bit about mental illness, but nothing about how mentally draining a panic attack is. So obviously he would be super mad and confused when this girl who previously spent every waking hour working on her comic, could not even muster the strength to think of an ending! I just don’t like how mad he got. But also she lied to him and didn’t tell him who she really was (the creator of his favorite online comic series). BUT THAT’S STILL NO EXCUSE. BUT IT KINDA IS.
I have so many feelings.
Let’s talk about style while I calm down. The structure of this book was incredible. It reminded me of Fangirl (a lot of it reminded me of Fangirl which is probably why I liked it so much). It was the story of Eliza and between the chapters was a section of her webcomic. SO COOL!
It also showed fandoms and online friendships in a great light. Both main characters have some social awkwardness/anxiety, so finding friendships online was an important part of their life. This is a new common thread amongst the teens. I think there is still a stigma about talking to people over the Inter-webs but there shouldn’t be anymore. Writing more YA novels with this trope is really important to banish this stigma. This is why I think more people should read YA novels, not just teenage girls.
I’ll post more about my feelings for YA novels later.