Genre: YA Contemporary
Recommended Age: 15+ (trigger warning for suicide and depression, some lightly mentioned topics that are mature).
Eighteen-year-old Eliza Mirk is the anonymous creator of Monstrous Sea, a wildly popular webcomic, but when a new boy at school tempts her to live a life offline, everything she’s worked for begins to crumble.
Scott Westerfeld’s Afterworlds meets Nimona in this novel about art, fandom, and finding the courage to be yourself. Features illustrations by the author throughout. Perfect for readers of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, this is the second novel by the acclaimed author of Made You Up.
In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, smart, and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, the 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. – Amazon.com
I don’t normally read contemporaries. I’d rather read about an alternate reality then read about the world I’m in. Fortunately for me, Eliza would rather draw her alternate reality then be apart of the world she’s forced to live in. She’s also very awkward and an introvert. She doesn’t want the fame part of her popularity, she just wants to draw and have people see her work. That’s what makes this character so likable. She’s a very real character and her anxiety and depression feel very real to the reader. The other characters in the novel are also very likable and very well developed. In only a few sentences, the author is able to develop a character so well that one feels they’ve known the character their whole life. The plot is also very well developed and the pacing is perfect. While the book feels resolved towards the middle of the novel, the author manages to throw a wrench into the wheel and while everything is resolved quickly it doesn’t feel rushed or underdeveloped. The book also uses art from Eliza’s webcomic series which makes the book feel even more special to the reader and it makes the reader want to become apart of the Monstrous Sea fandom!
One of my only complaints (not a complaint to me but might be a downside for others) is that the book does jump around time wise, so the reader does have to pay attention throughout the book in order to know what the time period of the chapter is. However, it wasn’t a big deal to me and I wasn’t thrown by the shifts in time at all. My only other complaint of the novel is that the reader does not know the ending of the Monstrous Sea! The reader (aka me) becomes so invested in the novel and the characters that the main characters create that it’s a bit of a disappointment that the ending of this fake fandom the reader becomes apart of is left unresolved. I have heard that the author is writing something to do with the Monstrous Sea on WattPad, so maybe we’ll get the ending we deserve in the end!
Verdict: This book ripped my heart out and stomped on it multiple times. My heart was then dissected and sewn back together with tender love and care. I cried a lot. I couldn’t sleep after I read it. Hands down, this was one of the best books I’ve ever read. I implore you to read this book even if you don’t like contemporaries. This sweet book is one that you will never regret reading.