I received this book in the May OwlCrate a few weeks ago, read the synopsis, and brushed it aside to read later. I had expected this book to be just another average girl meets boy love story. But, to me at least, it was so much more. For the most part, I think the reason this book resonated with me so much is because of the sheer amount of aspects of this book that I related to. But, we'll get to that later.
We follow the main character, Eliza, throughout her struggle to balance her online life (as a prolific and successful comic book writer) and her off-screen life, as a socially awkward girl struggling through high school. The way that Eliza interacted with her surroundings, her emotions, and her actions made her seem so real. Zappia managed to craft a character that did not seem dramatized for the benefit of the story, but so real that I felt I could actually reach out and hug her. With the way that Zappia wrote Eliza, I understood everything she was going through with perfect clarity; sometimes, I even felt like I was going through it myself. Throughout the novel, Eliza went through immense growth as she endured both the highs of life, and the very lowest lows. I watched as Eliza crumbled, and watched the pieces come together. Nothing was rushed. Like I said, Eliza was real. And that was one of the reasons this book was so special.
Enter Wallace. He’s painfully shy (to the point where he can’t speak out loud when surrounded by more than a few people), built like a football player, and extremely mysterious. And, to make matters even more interesting, he is the most popular fanfiction writer for Eliza’s online comic. Throughout the book, we watch as Wallace and Eliza (two highly introverted beings) fall for one another, learn to trust, and reveal their true colors. Their relationship grows realistically, which means that along with perfections, flaws exist as well. Wallace added so much to this novel as you watch a boy learn to create happiness after experiencing the worst horrors in life. Wallace not only inspired me to be the best person I could be, but to seek out what I love and make sure I dedicate a significant amount of my time to that passion.
Now, to get to the aspects that I related to. Wallace and Eliza are both so passionate about writing and art (respectively), which inspired me throughout to get back to my true passions: reading and writing. Recently, I’ve fallen into a reading slump, and this book resurrected me. Reading about Eliza’s inspirations in every-day life and all-consuming desire to lose herself in her story reminded me how much I love writing. And, after finishing this book, I immediately started brainstorming a new story I want to work on. In addition, Eliza’s life is based almost solely online (especially before Wallace came in the picture). Although I am not quite as absorbed by the internet as she was, a large part of my life exists online as well. For example, my book blog, my book instagram, the YouTubers I watch religiously, my favorite Netflix shows, etc. Throughout my time as a member of the book community, I have established amazing connections throughout the world and established important friendships with people I never would have met if the internet did not exist. I have friends that live across the United States, from California to Illinois to Texas and so on. And, even some across international borders in Canada, the Philippines, etc. In this aspect, I related with Eliza and her internet friends and the special bond they’ve augmented that Eliza’s parents had a tough time understanding, as my parents struggle to understand as well. In addition, Eliza dealt with anxiety and panic attacks throughout the book. To watch Eliza struggle to understand the condition she deals with and come to terms with it was truly amazing, and it added to building Eliza into more of a human (rather than a fictional character). This aspect of Eliza’s character especially resonated with me as I deal with the same condition she does. Granted, I don’t have the same kind of anxiety as her, but it still felt nice to be reassured that I am not the only one.
Overall, the character development was stellar in this book in addition to the relationship development. The underlying themes of coming to terms with the presence of technology in modern day society, learning to trust, to love yourself, and to discover your true passions made this book go above and beyond your typical teen love story. I found myself anticipating certain events throughout the book (no spoilers) that kept me devouring the book without stopping. Although the writing was pretty average, some of the quotes were truly beautiful (will include below). Due to the fact that I related to so many aspects of this book it truly did resonate with me. I won’t forget this book.
I ended up giving this book a 4.5/ 5 stars due to the excellent character development and the relatability of this novel. I took off a fraction of a star because of the average writing and the slow beginning. I do recommend this book to all YA and contemporary lovers.
Quote I love:
"For every sea filled with monsters, there is a sky full of stars."