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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 2016-08-07 17:12
Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
Made You Up - Francesca Zappia

This was a pretty great book for me to read since Made You Up revolves around our main character, Alex, is schizophrenic. I learned about schizophrenia last semester, so it was interesting to see how having this mental illness would play out in today’s setting.

This book was good, but I did start getting a little bored about a while in. This was mostly because I kind predicted some of the things that were going to happen and already knew that some things were a bit too off about our story.

But, eh… I’d recommend reading this to people who don’t really know anything about schizophrenia! It was a pretty decent read!

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-04-27 00:00
Made You Up
Made You Up - Francesca Zappia “Sometimes I think people take reality for granted.”

I’m still looking for what I wanted from We’ll Never Be Apart (my review). This got a little closer, but we're still a long way gone.

Review
While I was reading it and not thinking too hard, this book wasn't so bad. I sped through it because I wanted to get to the good parts, but once again, I felt like the good parts never quite arrived.

I originally gave this book three stars; I bumped it down to two. The more I thought about it, the more things bugged me.

I won’t get into the wildly inaccurate portrayal of schizophrenia; Clementine’s review goes into some detail, and a perusal of one-star reviews will get you the gist. I don’t have a background in psychology and I don’t have any up close and personal experience with schizophrenia. Even so, I could tell something was way off – especially when just being around the love interest soothed her symptoms.

This idea that if you love a sick person enough, and they love you enough, they’ll just get better is, frankly, insulting. You can’t love someone so much you cure their cancer. You can’t love someone so much you cure their schizophrenia.

(I had the same problem with Made You Up. Why is it always a boy and a cure, instead of your own self and learning to live with the reality of the situation and cope the best you can?)

I wish I knew more about Charlemagne. That could’ve been the whole plot, right there. At least, unlike Made You Up, it’s (sort of) explained how Alexandra “sees” her interacting with people – but it’s a mystery why her parents not only played along with this delusion/hallucination (it’s both/neither) but apparently encouraged it, setting a place for her at the table and buying her Christmas presents long after she died. I… what?

Oh, and the mom’s relationship with the therapist, and the therapist’s relationship with Alexandra? Woah. I saw a therapist for six(ish) years. My mother was sometimes involved with my treatment; probably with a schizophrenic patient, you’d need more family involvement for a minor.

Therapists are not your enemy. If you don’t like your particular therapist, hopefully you can find a new one. If your meds aren’t working, talk to your psychiatrist and adjust the dose or change the prescription. This is such a dangerous cliché. I didn’t see a therapist when I needed one (financial reasons) and, well, it almost ruined my life. See a therapist, kids!

As for the rest ... Well, I originally left it out of my review because it was pretty forgettable. There were too many threads and none of them made any sense. Like Miles's mom. She's been stuck in a psychiatric hospital for eight years without her consent, and not having committed any crime, because her husband says she's suicidal? What is this, 1950? Or Miles himself, struggling to readjust after living abroad. That could all be very interesting, but it just wasn't. Or the McCoy and Celia subplot. Any of these things could have been a good book in their own right, but crammed into a single story and not fleshed out they just floundered. Less is more.

And why is the whole school crazy? It seemed like high school on a TV show, not real high school. At first I thought it was part of Alex's illness, but apparently not.

Judging a Book by Its Cover
I love the design for this book. It’s what originally caught my eye before I got on this “mentally ill unreliable narrator” kick I’m in. It’s visually arresting, and we’ve got Alex’s red hair. I think a lobster would have been more intriguing, though.
It loses points for the flagrant misuse of Sylvia Plath’s “Mad Girl’s Love Song.”

tl;dr
Quick read, but I wanted more. Didn’t care much about the characters and the one I liked best turned out to be a hallucination all along. Once again, the interesting bits about what’s real or not get lost under a teenage love story, and the reality of mental illness is ignored in favor of stereotypes and what’s cool.
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review 2016-02-23 00:00
Made You Up
Made You Up - Francesca Zappia I really enjoyed this novel (minus the almost-sex scene between the two mains) and really appreciated that the main character was not treated like a villain for her mental illness (except for a very realistic scene where she is outed by a classmate and I started crying because it was very similar to something I went through in high school).

I was extremely skeptical about this book when I read that the author did not personally experience paranoid schizophrenia (either firsthand or secondhand), but the novel treats this so well enough that I wasn't upset or finding myself annoyed with the book.

This book is heartbreaking at times, but a really great read. Anyone with an interest in how mental illness/mental health is represented in young adult fiction should give this book a read.
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text 2015-08-31 10:39
Bookish Bingo Wrap Up Summer 2015
Made You Up - Francesca Zappia
Black Iris - Leah Raeder
Vengeance Road - Erin Bowman
The Girl at Midnight - Melissa Grey
Cruel Beauty - Rosamund Hodge
Throne of Glass - Sarah J Maas
Life Eternal - Yvonne Woon
Kissing in America - Margo Rabb
Heir of Fire - Sarah J. Maas
Bone Gap - Laura Ruby

Another completed Bookish Bingo card!!

 

I did complete this one earlier in the month but held off writing my wrap up as I was reading a few other books that could cover certain squares if I finished them in time. I did, so here we are with a wrap up post.

 

 

 

 

Read but not Reviewed

The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey - Purple Cover - 5 stars

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand - Tearjerker - 5 stars

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdeir - POC Writer -  4 stars

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby - Multi POV -  4 stars

Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas - Magic 4.5 stars

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins - Cover Change (reread - reviewed previously but not reviewed again for this challenge) 5 stars

 

Read and Reviewed

Sight (Delta Girls #1) Juliet Madison - Face on Cover - Review 2 stars

What We Knew by Barbara Stewart - June July August release- Review 2 stars

Because You'll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas - 2015 Debut - Review 5 stars

Black Iris by Leah Raeder - Out Of Your Comfort Zone - Review 5 stars

Kissing in America by Margo Rabb - Young Adult - Review 4 stars

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson - Beach Read - Review 5 stars 

Hello, Goodbye and Everything In Between by Jennifer E Smith - Title Is More Than Three Words - Review 3.5 stars

Fire in Title or on Cover: Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas - Review 2 stars

Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman - Free Square - Review 4 stars

Ruby Red by Kirsten Gier - Time Travel - Review 1 star

The Queen (Selection #0.4) by Kiera Cass - Short Story - Review 4 stars

The Devil You Know by Trish Doller - Travel - Review 3 stars

 

In Mini Review Post

Some of the books I read I didn't feel like doing full reviews but wanted to say something so I did a mini review post for those Bookish Bingo books which can be seen here

Me and Earl and The Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews - Published Over a Year Ago 1 star

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell - Award Winner  3 stars

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge - Retelling 5 stars

Finish a Series - Evertrue (Everneath #3) by Brodi Ashton - 1 star

Life Eternal by Yvonne Woon - White Cover 4 stars

She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick - MC With a Physical Disability 3 stars

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia - Blue Cover 5 stars

 

Best Books

Made You Up, Vengeance Road, Kissing in America, Black Iris, Anna and the French Kiss, Cruel Beauty, The Girl at Midnight, The Last Time We Say Goodbye

 

Worst Books

Me and Earl and The Dying Girl, Ruby Red, Evertrue, Sight

 

Honorable Mentions

Heir of Fire, She is not Invisible, The Devil You Know, The Wrath and the Dawn, Life Eternal, Second Chance Summer, Because You'll Never Meet Me

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