I am LadyConstellation.
I am also Eliza Mirk.
This is the paradox that can never be solved.
Eliza and Her Monsters really struck me right in a tender spot. From the very beginning you know one thing about Eliza; she is sad and afraid. There’s a kind of melancholy over the whole story, actually. Despite how talented and creative Eliza is, she never stops fretting that she’s someone unworthy, simply because she’s not athletic like her family, or sociable, or interested in normal High School things. Then, add into the mix, her peers don’t understand her and they’re mean. So, on top of worrying about how she doesn’t fit in, she’s constantly reminded of it. This has created a protagonist that is just routinely sad and fearful.
I am not routinely sad, but for a long time I was definitely routinely fearful. In that way I felt like Eliza and I were very similar. Except for being sad, our anxiety manifested similarly. Who knows, maybe I also would have been sad if I’d been in her shoes. I was the invisible girl in my high school. I did have my own group of friends, so it wasn’t to the same degree as Eliza, but I definitely wasn’t memorable to most. I always felt like I was disposable. I knew in my head it wasn’t true, but logic doesn’t work on anxiety disorders. My fears told me differently. So, like I used to, Eliza has convinced herself she’s disposable, and I could relate. I think that’s the first, and most important, reason this book spoke to me.
I also related to Eliza when it came to losing herself on the internet and creating a safe place for herself there. I could never be the kind of person who would talk about online friends like they weren’t true. Angie and I have never met in person, yet other than my sister, daughter and husband, she’s who I talk to most. We chat almost every single day. She is my real friend even if we’ve never gone to grab coffee. Myspace, then Facebook, then Goodreads, now WordPress… those have been my safe havens, the same way Monstrous Sea was Eliza’s safe place and that should be okay. Only to a certain degree though. I think a large part of the story was saying just that. It was okay to love her life online, but Eliza needed to love herself in the real world too, and that’s where Wallace helped.
I really liked Eliza’s relationship with Wallace, even though it was a slower moving romance. It was the perfect pace for Eliza and Wallace, and that made everything feel honest. Wallace had his own problems, but in a way he was still more together than Eliza and because of that I could appreciate how slow he moved. I think that’s exactly why Eliza could trust in him, because he never pushed her or made her question herself… mostly he didn’t anyway. Every book has it’s strife, right?
I’m also a sucker for characters who fall in love while writing to each other. I think, for me, that was the magic of Simon and Blue. It was what made me love Declan and Juliet. There was a thread of that same magic between Eliza and Wallace too. There’s something about those avenues of communication that makes the dialogue feel more intimate to me.
Outside of Eliza’s relationship with Wallace, the biggest character development was between Eliza and her brothers. I’m not going to lie, I found myself frustrated with the way the Mirk’s treated each other. There was such a disconnect between Eliza and the the rest of her family, and for so long it didn’t seem like anyone was working to fix it. It was obvious, multiple times, how both sides were aware they were splintered, but there didn’t seem to be any movement toward healing the rift. Until the dam broke and brought about all that precious character and relationship development I’m always looking for in a book. It was pretty worth it in the end.
I think I was really lucky in this read, actually. See, I heard about Eliza and Her Monsters first on Book Princess Reviews, and I loved her review so much I went out and bought the book in hardcover, without research. It could have really burned my bank account, but it didn’t. It was worth every cent I paid. The authors note says Children of Hynos is an online book, so I may just have to check it out because this author is good. This book was good.
There are Monsters in the Sea.