So last week I read the book that everyone is talking about. Girl Online is the debut novel by Zoe Sugg aka internet superstar Zoella. I don’t read Young Adult fiction very often, mostly as I’m a bit old for it! However I also can’t avoid the hype when everyone is talking about something so I wanted to give this one a read and form my own opinions. I was actually really surprised by how much I enjoyed the book. It wasn’t just OK, it was really good. I sailed through it in just a few days and enjoyed it the whole way through.
The main character of the book is Penny, a 15 year old girl who writes a blog and lives in Brighton. She also suffers from anxiety and seems to always humiliate herself through her clumsy awkward mistakes. When reading the blurb on the back of the book there are obviously similarities between character and author. However the book isn’t particularly autobiographical and the characters seem pretty original. In the book Penny faces issues involving the internet which are common for young people today, cyber bullying and Facebook humiliation being the main concerns.
The book definitely explores some of the issues that are faced by youngsters in the days where everyone is online. A humiliating video is shared of her on YouTube, and she experiences hate through her blog and twitter when things go wrong. The book made me so glad that I am old enough to have grown up before anyone had Facebook or other social media, there were no smart phones and blogs just didn’t exist (I’m 29 by the way, I realised this makes me sound really old!). It also makes me worry about my daughters growing up with all the extra pressure that comes with the online world. When I was a teenager you could just wear an outfit without it being an #ootd or pop out with friends without taking a selfie. It was better that way. I am so glad there was no Facebook when I was at school, fallouts with friends are bad enough without them being broadcast to the whole world.
Back to the book – Penny ends up in new York after her parents get an opportunity to work there for a few weeks. While there she meets the lovely ‘Brooklyn Boy’ a guitar playing 18-year-old who steals her heart. All seems to be going well until she gets back to England and her online world falls apart. The last few chapters really had me gripped and I was equally worried and upset for Penny. I think it might be because I’m a mum, but I genuinely worried! I absolutely adored the way the book ended and now I want to know more!!!
I thought all the characters were engaging and well written, my favourite was Penny’s awesome best friend Elliot who lives next door to her. Their friendship is just perfect and reminds me of how close me and Fay are. I also love Elliot because of his penchant for vintage attire! Penny’s parents and brother are also fantastic and I love the way they all supported each other. The baddies Ollie and Megan reminded me of the meanies at our old school and I was desperate for them to get their comeuppance throughout the book. And Brooklyn Boy aka Noah is just the perfect boyfriend, I’d have loved a boyfriend as romantic as him when I was a teen.
Zoe keeps it clean throughout the book, with nothing naughtier than a snog. This takes her younger readers into account and all the way through I was hoping it would stay that way so that Jessica can read the book soon. There’s nothing particularly unsuitable for younger readers, so fellow parents rest assured there’s nothing in there that young teens shouldn’t read.
I’ve read a lot of mixed opinions about the recent trend for YouTube sensations writing books, my opinion is that if an opportunity is presented to you should take it. It takes a huge amount of work to write a successful blog and even more work to run a YouTube channel, if that gives you the chance to fulfil your dreams then go for it and ignore the criticism. With regards to the book being co-written (to what degree we don’t know) I don’t really think it matters, it’s the book that I’m reviewing not the publishing process and therefore I haven’t let that sway my opinion.
So in conclusion I enjoyed this fluffy fun book a lot, got very freaked out by the big scary internet and felt all warm and fuzzy when I came to the end. It’s not the most amazing book in the world but it was fun and I would definitely recommend it for light read.
Buy Girl Online from Amazon.
*I’m going to be writing a lot more book reviews as I miss the early days of the blog where books featured a lot. So look out for lots more book recommendations in the coming weeks.*