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review 2017-06-02 23:58
Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia | READ THIS NOW!

This past Tuesday, Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia was released into the world, and you all need to get a copy. Now.

I was an Eliza beta reader about a year and a half ago, and I finished reading my hardback yesterday. All the praise that I had already given the beta version? Oh, wow. Magnify that by a hundred. This book is fantastic. Here are my 5 reasons for why you need NEED to read it.

 


1) Fantastic Characters--

It's a well known fact that Chessie makes amazing, multi-layered characters, the type to delight fans of all ages (cc: Made You Up). Her characters feel flesh and blood. They make you want to cry and scream, and you get frustrated on their behalf. Chessie's attention to detail makes her characters come alive, with their own little habits and phrases. And with such fantastic characters, you're guaranteed to be engaged in the story, even if you don't always agree with what the characters do.

Eliza and Her Monsters - Francesca Zappia
2) Breaking Gender Norms--

The romantic interest in this book is a hulk, former football player and now fanfiction writer and a selective mute, with a soft voice. The main character is a girl with greasy hair and social anxiety, and she's this super popular creator of a webcomic. Society tends to portray female creators as being Nice, Polite Women - women need to comprise, to smile more often, etc. Here, we have another story to rival that. And many of the side characters also break gender norms. I don't know about you, but I'm very pleased to have a story where the characters aren't in these flat cardboard boxes of what we expect (e.g., alpha male). This also makes the characters feel more real to me.

3) The Unique Formatting--

You can look at several of the Goodreads reviews that mention the photos - here, for instance. Or just at look at the EpicReads post of the first two chapters. You can see the inclusion of the Monstrous Sea webcomic pages, and the prose transcription beneath. You can see private messages between the characters - the moderators of the webcomic and Eliza, the romantic interest and Eliza. You can see forum interactions and forum profiles. Most of the YA books out right now don't have this amount of layering within their stories. Horror YA sometimes includes pictures, and other fandom related books might have some stories, some fanfiction--not to this extent, not to this level of metaness. See point below.

4) Unlike Anything Else You've Read--

This book has been compared to Fangirl and Afterworlds and Nimona, because every book needs to be compared to something, so you have an idea of its marketing. It's a fact of life that you build on schemas that people already have of the world. But this book is unlike anything else that you've read. You only get Cath's fanfiction in Fangirl, some of the story from the main character in Afterworlds. Nimona started off as a comic. None of these is quite the same as Eliza and Her Monsters. Here, you get the main character's creation and see how she interacts with her fans, and you see how fanfic writers interact with the creator and the fandom. You also get to hear about a series of books that she loves, too. Chessie has posted this online - the Children of Hypnos story. The main character has a drive to create after the fandom that she loves no longer exists. You have access to that story too. There's this amazing level of metaness in this story that ties so well into the themes of creation, fandoms, etc. I repeat: unlike anything else you've read.

5) So Easy to Relate to--

If you're reading this book, there is a good likelihood that you will relate to SOMETHING in this book. Whether it's the main character's social anxiety, the need to create, the desire to interact with the fandom, or just loving how the fandom interacts-- there is something for everyone. And you know that Chessie has interacted with or been a part of fandoms, because it shows in her writing. It shows in how fandoms a portrayed. Marieke Nijkamp wrote the blurb, "A love letter to fandom, friendship, and the stories that shape us, Eliza and Her Monsters is absolutely magical." Yes, yes, yes. A love letter to fandom and friendship and stories. Yes. 100% true.

READ THIS BOOK!

PS - This wonderful novel got a starred review from Kirkus, Publisher's Weekly, Booklist, and School Library Journal.

PPS - Here is my original pre-review: I read a manuscript of this book about one year ago to date. If you like Made You Up, you will most certainly love Eliza! Chessie brings back her trademark endearing humor in another wonderful mix of adorable romance, quirky characters, and multilayered plotting (plus the cool formatting here, which is typically reserved for YA horror, but hey, Eliza is just that awesome). I would also recommend this book to fans of Fangirl and Afterworlds.

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review 2017-05-03 19:15
Nimona
Nimona - Noelle Stevenson

The first time I read Nimona I was a little ambivalent about it. I kind of wish I had read it while it was being published on the web (I followed Noelle Stevenson's tumblr but never read Nimona until it was published). I think the serialization would have helped me enjoy it more the first time.

 

I enjoyed it more when I reread it earlier this year. I was feeling bad but found the story uplifting. Sometimes monster girls' stories are just what you need.

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review 2017-04-11 00:51
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Nimona - Noelle Stevenson

A couple of years back, it seemed everyone was talking about Nimona and how amazing this graphic novel was. Fast forward to today and people still seem to be talking about it. That, to me, is a sign to how brilliant a work of art is. So when I went to the library and saw it on the shelf, I snatched it up so fast! I just couldn't believe I was FINALLY going to read this comic! And, let me tell you, it's just as amazing as everyone says it is.

 

I literally have no complaints about this comic whatsoever! The art, the story, the characters, the setting. Everything! It's all so amazing! Noelle Stevenson did a fantastic job in creating a story where the reader becomes invested in the characters and their struggles. The artwork is matches the tone of the plot perfectly. It's light and cartoony when it needs to be and gets dark and grittier when the tone of the story shifts. The setting is a mixture of medieval and futuristic at the same time. A beautiful blend between fantasy and sci-fi. And the character designs are unique and diverse with each individual. I love the art so much!

 

The story is just as incredible as the artwork! It follows Nimona, a shapshifter, who is a fan of well-know "villain" Ballister Blackheart and joins him in his pursuit of "evil." I will not tell you anymore than that because it's best to go into this story knowing very little. But if you love adventure and a bit of mystery with characters who develop gradually and beautifully, then you will enjoy this graphic novel.

 

As for the characters, they are all so beautiful and amazing and intriguing and I just can't get enough of them! Nimona is a shapeshifter who is spunky, headstrong, funny, and cares so much for the "boss." Ballister Blackheart, the "boss," is a scientist who is a bit on the serious side but learns to care for Nimona throughout the book. Their friendship is one of the sweetest I've read about in any form of fiction. I love how they are willing to risk their lives for each other to see each other succeed. We also have Ambrosius Goldenloin. He works for the "government" and is a type of rival to Blackheart.  But, the more you read the story, the more you'll understand why they bump heads so much. The reasoning just melts the heart.

 

I cannot recommend this books highly enough! Please go out and read this book. It's funny, beautiful, magical, diverse, and a treat to experience. I love how positive it is for girls and boys alike. It teaches that it's okay to be who you are and that being a "monster" is not as bad as some would make it out to be. Such a fantastic message and a good read all around! 

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review 2017-01-25 19:43
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Nimona - Noelle Stevenson

I really enjoyed Nimona. I’d heard about in a couple of top books of 2016 vlogs. The first few chapters are available online and I loved the interaction between the two main characters so went out and bought it.

 

Ballister Blackheart is your typical superhero, a man who went rouge from ‘the institution’. One day Nimona turns up at Ballister’s residence and says she wants to be his sidekick. He refuses her offer at first, but once he discovers she’s a shapeshifter he decides it would be good to have her on side. So their relationships begins and the more we get to know them the more their differences become apparent, but is the very thing that sets them apart. Nimona is all about magic and fantasy, whereas Ballister is concerned with fact and logic. Their relationship was indicative of human beings own tustle between left and right brain. What was so captivating about this was that a very human problem was related in a superhero setting.

 

No superhero would be complete without an antagonist, in this case Sir Goldenloins! Every time I saw that name in print I had to laugh! Sir Goldenloins and Ballister have some history together which we discover a little of and becomes eve more interesting towards the end. We don’t find out the definitive details which I think are being left for a follow-up. At various points I got this feeling that there was more to come or be fleshed out, so I’m looking forward to that.

 

The story was an intriguing one. Basically Ballister, who was previously on side with the institution, is now fighting them. Apart from a couple of unique details it was a stock story line that was really all about the characters. Each character was distinct and had their own quirks and backstory. The star was Nimona though. She was snarky without being too much, really funny and had a vulnerability that made her relateable.

 

The artwork was simple but distinctive. I haven’t been reading graphic novels for long so don’t feel qualified to give much of an assessment of the artwork aside from that.

Even though this hasn’t left much of an impression on me I did really enjoy it and hope to see some more of Nimona.

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review 2017-01-14 20:39
Reading progress update: I've read 100 out of 272 pages.
Nimona - Noelle Stevenson

Since reading Maus I discovered how much I love the graphic novel format. This is completely different, obviously, as it's concerned with superheroes. The artwork is great and it's so much fun. Nimona is the sidekick of Ballister Blackheart and they have the best chemistry. Science and magic are played off each other in a way that gives a lot of depth to the narrative.

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