Her story is a phenomenon. Her life is a disaster.
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.
I had mixed feelings about this book. At the core of it all, I adored it. However, there were some plot points and character features that really fell short for me. Regardless, I enjoyed the overall message and idea behind the book, and think that it is a fascinating new piece in the YA genre, through its use of imagery and subplot.
To start, I did really appreciate the idea behind this book. Internet culture, and the misunderstanding around it, is very pertinent to modern day society. Especially the idea of being “internet famous,” and having no one in real life make the connect. I think it is incredibly interesting and fascinating that someone could be worshipped and adored online, while the same people might mock and harass that same someone in real life for being weird, or a loner.
On the other hand, I did have some plot points that bothered me. I didn’t dislike them, but there was a disconnect. For example, the parents in this novel were ridiculous. They ended up coming around in the end, but their lack of connection, but still very caring attitude, seemed unrealistic at times. I totally get the “my parents don’t understand me” plot point, but this one seemed a bit exaggerated. At the same time, Eliza was a character that was so CLEARLY suffering from some crippling mental health issues, and no one seemed to pick up on it. Now, again, I know that it’s not always obvious when someone is struggling with mental health issues. However, the character was described as if her struggle was physically very obvious outwardly, and that even other people picked up on it. Thus the disconnect was around WHY THE HECK DID NO ONE HELP HER???
As I said, these were less “what the heck this is terrible,” and more “I do not quite understand the development here.” I think, perhaps, this plot was slightly less complex than some of the other novels I have been reading recently, so I may have been reading into it a bit much.
However, I do think that raw, real narratives like this are important. Eliza gave us an exceptionally real perspective on mental health issues, internet culture, and even just growing up. I think this is one of those books that every reader will be able to find a different message in.
3.5 out of 5.