“I'm so tired. I'm tired of anxiety that twists my stomach so hard I can't move the rest of my body. Tired of constant vigilance. Tired of wanting to do something about myself, but always taking easy way out.”
I had such high hopes for this book. All of my GoodReads friends were raving about it, but unfortunately this book didn't do it for me.
Before I start the review I wanted to mention some things that I think are very relevant.
I, like a lot of people, have anxieties. I had them when I was in my teens, but they weren't prevalent at all. They were hiding, if you will. I think it was due to the fact that I had an amazing group of friends, who made me feel safe, secure and supported. Because of such great support I was very outgoing and very much an extrovert.
Then my whole family moved continents away when I was about to turn 18 and my world came crashing down. I suddenly found myself in a country where I had no friends, no support and I didn't even know the language.
So, naturally, I stayed home a lot, became very shy and very, very introverted. That didn't happen overnight - but gradually. Soon I found myself wary of people and preferring my own company to anything else. Once I've acclimated myself to the new country and learned the language I started doing more things, putting myself out there, but I never did find true friends.
And then - anxieties hit me like a wrecking ball. They came finally came to the surface in full force - just when I felt good and confident about myself again. So here I was, in my mid twenties, having intense anxieties and panic attacks - things that I never experienced while I was a teen (usually the age when people start experiencing those).
It's gotten better with time (it probably helps that my husband is my best friend, and basically my security blanket). But the anxieties are still here, always lurking beneath the surface - resurfacing here and there just to remind me that they haven't left.
“I do have friends. Maybe they live hundreds of miles away from me, and maybe I can only talk to them through a screen, but they're still my friends."
I really enjoyed his aspect of the book - Eliza's only real friends were a world away from her. They were validated beautifully in this book. And, as being a person who's best friends are also a world away I was very happy to read that in a book. It was such an important message to deliver.
I felt that it was important to share my story before I go into explaining why the book about anxieties didn't speak to my soul.
If I had to describe Eliza and Her Monsters with one word - it would be - dramatic. And for no good reason. Maybe I couldn't relate to the MC because I wasn't a teen anymore when I had my anxieties. But to me, Eliza was so ridiculously dramatic and over the top - I could barely keep my eyes from rolling so hard.
I kept waiting for some explanation to come out, to say why she was that way - but nothing ever did.
YES, since she is a teen she has the hormonal right to be dramatic just on its own, YES, her anxieties are triggered by the smallest of things and it's completely legit - BUT, anxieties have to come from somewhere. They don't just manifest by themselves - there is always a traumatic experience which draws them out (even if the person who's having anxieties never realizes what the trigger was). There was no trigger for Eliza, there was no explanation - she just was that way.
I couldn't even assume that her shyness (which later manifested into anxieties) was hereditary, because her family was extremely outgoing - I just felt as if her character lacked a strong foundation, and because of that to me Eliza wasn't a character that I could get on board with.
However, I feel like maybe for some people anxieties do come out of nowhere? Maybe it's very different for everyone - but I just never seen a case like that for myself. I think the opinions of this book are based greatly on being able to relate to anxieties, and because mine were so different -I couldn't relate fully (I did to some things though).
On the other hand, Wallace's explanation and backstory were very well developed. I could see his pain and his fears - it was all there for the reader. To take in, to relate with. I didn't care for Wallace as a character at all (he was quite selfish), but I liked how his character development was described.
Eliza's parents were also un-relatabe - what kind of parent talk and act like they do? Who says 'go out it's time for you to start having physical relationship with a boy' to their daughter? I don't know, maybe some parents do, but I definitely don't know any parents like that.
I also didn't care much for the story that Eliza was creating - it was choppy, and I never did get the whole picture out of it. I guess I was expecting more from it? The drawings were also just alright (the book describes them as completely amazing, which they weren't...). And I thought it was very weird that the author used her previous series in this book as a part of the story - that just felt like an advertisement for a book inside of a book.
However, when Eliza started seeing a therapist - I really enjoyed that. It just was such a good chapter. I felt like I, as a reader, finally got a chance to dive deep into Eliza's thoughts and see the real her. The therapist also said many important things and I really appreciated that. And obviously, the message itself - that seeing a therapist is a good and responsible thing to do - was great.
I know this book is many people's favorite, so I'd recommend reading it for yourself and seeing if it relates to you. We all experience things differently - and different books speak differently to us.
For me, this was a very average and mediocre read. Some things were good, some things were not so good, but for the most part I just wanted to be done with it, because it wasn't holding my attention much.
Freelance BETA reader.