New Book! “Eliza and Her Monsters”
In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.
Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she 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.
It’s very rare that a YA book will resonate so powerfully with me. In fact I can think of only one other off the top of my head (Right Behind You by Gail Giles in case you were interested). Partially I think it’s because I’m something of a geek and a nerd, but also because I’m 45 years old. The emotional struggles that afflict kids is way behind me, but even as we get older there’s always just a touch of that enormous weight that seems to stay with us – we just get better at handling it. Still, if a book is well-written and the plot captivating, I enjoy the material even if it’s written for children (looking at you Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone).
First off, I have to admit that the world-building and character development is top-notch. Everything is so vibrantly here that the primary factor in a good fictional book – the suspension of disbelief – is effortlessly adopted. I believed in Eliza and Wallace, but more importantly, I could see them in my mind. Their actions, their responses, their personality quirks, even their words and gestures, all felt natural and how these characters should act. No forced dialogue, no improbable plot twist, no crazy mash of insane confluences to spike the drama or create an artificial cliffhanger.
I’m going to go on a tangent for a second – I hate reality television. It disgusts me in such a way that I have nothing but sheer loathing for the cast and crew of shit they call entertainment like Survivor, Big Brother, the Apprentice, the Kardashians, Housewives and all that other mindless dreck that’s put out. Fake drama, fake people, fake entertainment. The only way I’d ever watch it is if things went Hunger Games style and I got to see someone hoist Kim Kardashian’s severed head in the air. Survivor would be entertaining if there was a good chance someone was going to be maimed or die, giving a whole new meaning to the title.
Anyways, in something not written to be real, the author touched upon a number of very real emotional lodestones – loneliness, depression, suicidal thoughts, fear of inadequacy, loss, redemption, passion, and finally hope, determination and success. The gamut of feelings was almost surreal, but the roller coaster so very much enjoyable.
The book is likely a stand-alone piece, but the author did such an awesome job with the subjects and the material that I would love to read a sequel.