This might be the best contemporary I’ve read so far this year. I just related to Eliza so much; how quiet and reserved she is, her social anxiety and self-consciousness. It’s something I struggle with every day of my life. But my anxiety extends to my online presence as well and that isn’t wholly true for Eliza as she is the anonymous creator of a very famous web comic. She struggles with depression and anxiety and her art is her escape, she immerses herself in her web comic and is a bit withdrawn from her family. She has no friends at school and is often teased and bullied. But then Wallace, one of the most famous fanfiction writers for her web comic, moves into her school and she has to decide whether to stay anonymous or not and whether it is worth it to slowly come out of her safe zone- which is the internet.
There are so many passages in this book that really touched me and put so many of my complex feelings into words. One of my favorites is this:
“I’m so tired. I’m tired of anxiety that twists my stomach so hard I can’t move the rest of my body. Tired of constant vigilance. Tired of wanting to do something about myself, but always taking easy way out.”
There are so many things Eliza and her monsters handles so well that I’ll have to make a bullet point list.
- Everything about the internet, fandoms and internet friends is handled so well I might cry. Judgment from those who don’t understand, the assumption that internet friends aren’t ‘real friends’…All of it is covered here.
- Fandom culture is a big factor in this book and I felt like the author so completely understood what she was talking about. She handled the bad and the good about fandom culture so well.
- The art from Eliza’s web comic, Monstrous Sea, is featured every now and then. I have to admit I didn’t fully understand the comic’s story from the snippets we got in between chapters but it’s really cool that it’s the author’s web comic and you could check it out at any time. Talk about a talented author.
- Eliza and Wallace are so adorable *squeal* I adored their friendship and lived for their interactions.
- Eliza’s twin brothers are the absolute best. I loved how Eliza’ s relationship with them evolved.
- More than anything, I really appreciate the scarily-close-to-home depiction of social anxiety, depression, and loneliness.
The book gets much darker in later chapters and that was bit unexpected. It tore me up a bit but I appreciate that it didn’t turn up taking a fluffy/light route. Instead, the book confronted deeper issues and troubles. Some of things Wallace did towards the end were a bit out of character for me and some things pissed me off but I truly adored this book and would recommend it to others, especially if you are someone who struggles with anxiety and depression and want representation in books.
|Awesome portrayal of social anxiety & depression||Out of character actions towards the end|
|Relatable Protagonist||Side characters could’ve been used for more|
|Adorable Romance||Little developed side characters|
|Best take on fandom culture I’ve seen|
|Plenty quotable phrases|
|Explores Internet personas and friendships|
- Anxiety, Depression
- Suicidal thoughts