Author: Zoe Sugg
Genre: YA Contemporary
Release Date: November 25th 2014
I had no idea GirlOnline would take off the way it has – I can’t believe I now have 5432 followers, thanks so much! – and the thought of opening up to you all about this is terrifying, but here goes…
Penny has a secret.
Under the alias GirlOnline, she blogs about school dramas, boys, her mad, whirlwind family – and the panic attacks she’s suffered from lately. When things go from bad to worse, her family whisks her away to New York, where she meets the gorgeous, guitar-strumming Noah. Suddenly Penny is falling in love – and capturing every moment of it on her blog.
But Noah has a secret too. One that threatens to ruin Penny’s cover – and her closest friendship – forever.
I must confess that one of the reasons why I picked up Girl Online was because I was intrigued by all the hype the book was getting. According to the headlines, this book surpassed the records of authors like Dan Brown and JK Rowling in terms of the number of books sold by a debut author. But does the book measure up to the hype it is getting?
Penny is a budding British photographer, she thinks she is also the most clumsy girl in the world. Somehow she always finds awkward scenarios to embarass herself. But to make up for this flaw, she has a best friend who has amazing fashion sense, very cool parents who are too bright and excited about stuff for their own good and a too-cool-for-you older brother. Oh and Penny happens to have a crush on Noah, a guy who is so cute and hot and so “rock god-tastic”. Isn’t everything perfect for her?
In fact, it is too perfect for my liking.
I am greatly disappointed because there is not much going on in Girl Online. I was reading the book and the whole time I was thinking to myself, “What am I supposed to see?” There was not enough conflict in the book to keep the readers interested. The whole story seems just like one big filler, like randomly throwing in some scenes and calling it a book.
There was some points in the book that were really great like overcoming panic attacks, the relevance of blogging and social media in our daily lives, self awareness, romance, LGBT, among others. These are great subjects to discuss in a book and props to the author for trying but it is one big flop. The book is a mess, the characters were dull and not much was happening. And don’t get me started on the insta-love. Penny and Noah has only interacted for a few hours and she was already begging him in her mind to kiss her. Seriously?
It is so frustrating to see a book who has a lot of potential but not being able to reach it. This book could have been great but the execution was below par. I wish the author could have expounded on the issues she laid out in the book. For example, Penny said she had been getting panic attacks after a certain car accident with her family. I was surprised to find out about this because there was no mention of a car accident before it was revealed she was having panic attacks. Surely an event as vital as that should be mentioned in the book, right?
It is sad that all that hype was for naught, the book would not have been such a huge hit if the author did not already have millions of followers online.
And before I wrap up this review, I would like to add my two cents about the controversy regarding Zoella’s use a ghostwriter. In my opinion, the reason why the public is outraged by this news is that we are not accustomed to hearing someone use a ghostwriter when it comes to fiction. In non-fiction, ghostwriting is more common and it is not a huge deal. But there is a certain artistry in creative writing and when someone says they wrote a fiction novel we automatically assume it is solely written by them (unless of course explicitly stated otherwise). I just wish the team behind Girl Online was a bit more honest about how it was created, there is a difference in coming up with characters and a plot and having someone write it and writing the novel from the ground up yourself. And isn’t it ironic that Girl Online talks about online hate and bashing and the author is experiencing the same backlash?