GRAPHIC BY: YING YANG
BY: CHRISTINA QUACH
Eliza and Her Monsters manages to turn over a new tide with its portrayal of teenage conflicts.
The novel, Eliza and Her Monsters, written by FZ, revolves around the life of Eliza Mirk (or Lady Constellation), an eighteen-year- old girl who happens to run a very successful webtoon, The Monstrous Sea. Then enters Wallace Warland, a popular fanfiction writer for The Monstrous Sea. Wallace, without knowing that Eliza is the creator of his favorite webtoon, ends up befriending her, creating a wave of new relationships and adventures along the way.
The book strays away from the stereotypical Young-Adult novels by including various cartoons and refusing to sugarcoat harsh topics.
One of the most notable traits about Eliza and Her Monsters is the artwork. Zappia includes snippets of The Monstrous Sea webtoon in the book to help give readers more clarity into Eliza’s world.
For instance, when Eliza uploads a chapter of her webcomic, Zappia includes part of her artwork. Not only is this a pleasant surprise, but it also provides background information about the story. By doing this, the author allows the readers to understand the dialogue between the characters more accurately.
Moreover, the novel is easy to connect to because it contains emotional topics that teenagers are able to identify with.
For example, Eliza- being an introverted teenage girl- has a hard time opening up to her friends and family. Despite this, Wallace manages to coax her into new experiences that help her become more outgoing. Due to this event being relatable, it makes readers more invested in the characters as the story goes on.
Furthermore, the book raises awareness for overlooked issues, such as anxiety, suicide and depression. It discusses these problems more in depth rather than merely scratching the surface, as most YA novels do.
Most importantly, these topics are talked about realistically. There is no cliche happily ever after nor is there a knight in shining armor, but there is a hope for recovery. Instead of just skipping a couple years and make the characters lead perfect lives, the book continues to portray them as flawed individuals.
For example (warning: spoiler ahead; literally in the next sentence), Eliza is diagnosed with depression and anxiety near the end of the novel. She spends time in therapy and is still recovering by the time the book ends. This is a refreshing twist from a typical YA novel because the conflict is not completely resolved. She is still healing, which in turn, causes readers to realize that mental illnesses are not as simple as many people make it out to be.
Despite its positive attributes, the book lacks clarity. While the majority of the novel is very entertaining, the ending runs flat and breezes past events that should have been explained more thoroughly.
For instance, initially, Eliza and her family have a very tense relationship. However, near the end of the story, they suddenly have a loving relationship again, and there is no specific moment where they could have reconnected. This lack of information creates a dull ending, which is a huge contrast from the original exciting and creative storyline.
Nonetheless, Eliza and Her Monsters tastefully infuses the more joyous moments of friendship with the more somber moments of life without being cliche.