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)
Eighteen-year-old Eliza Mirk is the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea, but when a new boy at school tempts her to live a life offline, everything she’s worked for begins to crumble.
Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl meets Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona in this acclaimed novel about art, fandom, and finding the courage to be yourself. “A must-have.”—School Library Journal
In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, anonymous creator of a popular webcomic called Monstrous Sea. With millions of followers and fans throughout the world, Eliza’s persona is popular. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves her digital community.
Then Wallace Warland transfers to her school and Eliza begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.
With pages from Eliza’s webcomic, as well as screenshots from Eliza’s online forums, this uniquely formatted book will appeal to fans of Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona and Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.
Young Adult Library Services Association Best Book
Best Fiction for Young Adults Top Ten
Kirkus Best Book
Texas Tayshas Pick
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
Creator of an astonishingly successful webcomic—or a nonentity of a high school senior?Eliza Mirk is an anxiety-plagued weirdo, shuffling silently through the corridors of her Indiana high school without a single friend. She's also beloved LadyConstellation, creator of the comic Monstrous Sea, "a combination of the Final Fantasy video games and the Faust Legend." On the Monstrous Sea forums, she's the queen to millions of passionate fans; in school she's "Creepy Don't-Touch-Her-You'll-Get-Rabies Eliza." Eliza's parents, athletes with no understanding of the internet age, mishandle their beloved—but frighteningly baffling—daughter. Though terrified by human interaction, Eliza finds her voice long enough to defend a new student who's being mocked for writing Monstrous Sea fanfiction. Wallace and Eliza develop an intense, if unusual, friendship: Wallace's selective mutism means the majority of their conversations are carried on in writing. Eliza, meanwhile, wonders if she can reveal her online identity to Wallace, one of the most well-known fans of Monstrous Sea, without destroying his feelings for her. The deepening relationship of these two white teens, interspersed with pages from the comic and Wallace's fanfiction prose retelling of it, exposes the raw, self-absorbed pain of mental illness amid the helplessness many high schoolers experience. A wrenching depiction of depression and anxiety, respectful to fandom, online-only friendships, and the benefits and dangers of internet fame. (Fiction. 13-17)
A love letter to fandom, friendship, and the stories that shape us, Eliza and Her Monsters is absolutely magical.
Zappia punctuates prose sections with Monstrous Sea artwork and online chats...she pointedly delves into the way fandoms can smother the creators they live. ...a compelling read on the labyrinths of imagination and the simple pleasures of ordinary life.
We’ve seen variants on this premise before, but Zappia uses it to focus on introversion and isolations, panic disorders, suicidal ideation, and a preferable online existence that offers more control...Readers involved in fandoms and those who wish to understand and think about their reach are the audience for this.
★ “In her sophomore novel, Zappia gracefully examines Eliza’s complicated struggle with anxiety, depression...peppered with detailed illustrations from Eliza’s webcomic, drawn by Zappia herself. A fervent celebration of online fandom.