Eliza and Her Monsters
By Mary Eisenhart,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Fame and fandom collide with privacy in engaging tale.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Occasional references to the Faust legend. Lots of details about the world of online fiction, fandom, cosplay, and online cultures.
Strong messages about empathy, seeing things from other people's viewpoint, friendship, kindness, forgiveness, admitting when you're wrong and trying to make amends.
Positive Role Models
Wallace is kind, patient, and responsible -- for instance, not wearing part of his costume when he drives, because it impairs his vision. Eliza is smart, determined, relentless -- and learns a lot about friendship, empathy, and love along the way. Her family is often clueless but always loving.
Violence & Scariness
A teen character's father committed suicide, and another character is thinking about it.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A few brief kisses by teen characters; parents embarrass their teens by talking casually about sex. A character snarks about an over-the-top series: "Another pregnancy? This show already kept a baby, gave a baby up for adoption, and had an abortion!" Some same-sex relationships, mostly in the fantasy plot lines.
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Multiple instances of "s--t," "f--k," "a--hole," "douche bag," "d--k bag," and the like. Role-playing character calls another "whore."
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Products & Purchases
Author Francesca Zappia also writes the Children of Hypnos web comic (ongoing). The fictional characters love it and gush its praises early and often. This will annoy some readers and make others happy to have something else to read. Occasional mentions of real-life products (e.g., Photoshop, Pringles, Google).
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that web comic author Francesca Zappia's novel Eliza and Her Monsters tells the story of a high school geek who's secretly the creator of a hugely popular fantasy web comic series. It deals with some heavy subjects, including a parent's suicide and its aftermath, depression, and the price of fame. It's also a lively read, with appealing, complicated characters who learn a lot of life lessons and emerge happier for it. Teen characters use crude language ("s--t," "f--k," "a--hole," etc.) frequently, but also have relatable breakthroughs and positive insights. The in-depth portrayal of internet culture and the world of fandom is illuminating and spot-on.
Where to Read
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What's the Story?
Set in small-town Indiana, ELIZA AND HER MONSTERS is narrated by Eliza Mirk, an 18-year-old silent Weird Girl who can't wait to leave high school and Indiana behind. Unbeknownst to everyone but family, she's also LadyConstellation, creator of the hugely popular -- and very lucrative -- online fantasy series Monstrous Sea. She keeps the two worlds separate, and she likes it that way. But things start getting complicated when the new guy in school, who's even more silent than she is, turns out to be a Monstrous Sea fan.
Is It Any Good?
Web comic author Francesca Zappia writes from experience in this engaging tale of a teen living two lives: a silent one in high school and an exciting one online as creator of a popular web comic. Narrator/protagonist Eliza punctuates her story with texts, emails, and graphic-novel vignettes for a lively read that holds strong appeal for many teen readers, especially introverted, artistic, imaginative ones.
In many ways, Eliza is an extended commercial/prequel for author Zappia's popular web comic Children of Hypnos, but for many readers that'll be a huge plus -- more cool stuff to read.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how fan culture is depicted in Eliza and Her Monsters. Such cultures spring up around stories, including online media, local conventions, cosplay, and more. Do you find that whole scene appealing? What stories and characters do you relate to best?
If you had a story to tell, would you draw it? Write it? Sing it? Photograph it? Why would you choose that approach?
How can you tell that friends and family love each other -- and you -- even when they drive you nuts?
- Author: Francesca Zappia
- Genre: Emotions
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, High School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Greenwillow
- Publication date: August 7, 2017
- Number of pages: 400
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: August 7, 2017
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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