All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Girl Online – Zoe Sugg

on November 27, 2014

GirlOnlineGirl Online
Zoe Sugg
Penguin Books AUS
2014, 344p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Under the alias Girl Online, English teenager Penny begins a blog chronicling the thoughts she can’t bear to speak out loud. She talks about her friendships and how they’re changing, her family and the strange panic attacks she’s been having ever since she was recently in an accident. Online gives Penny the freedom to talk about her true feelings without having to worry about what people will think of her. After all, only one person knows that she’s Girl Online and he’d never tell.

After an incredibly embarrassing incident at her school just before the Christmas break, Penny is thrilled to be whisked away from it all to New York. She falls in love with the city and the photographic opportunities it presents and when she meets Noah, she’s falling in love with more than just the city. They spend a whirlwind few days together and even though they may not know everything about each other, they are comfortable with each other. Penny tells him things she can’t tell the other people in her life. She doesn’t feel awkward or embarrassed around him and if she does, it passes quickly and she can laugh it off. At night Penny writes giddy blog entries about first love and finding your soul mate, pouring out her heart to her readers and enjoying their responses as they bare their hearts and soul to her as well.

But then Penny discovers in the worst possible way that Noah has a secret too. And when she’s outed, Penny has to deal with every personal aspect of her life becoming public knowledge. Will she be able to overcome the fear and embarrassment of everyone knowing her private thoughts? Or is this the end of Girl Online?

Girl Online is the first novel by vlogging sensation Zoe Sugg. I have to admit, I didn’t know who she was when she was snapped up by Penguin, I’ve never seen any of her youtube videos but after reading this novel I might just have to check them out. There’s some resentment about “celebrities” getting signed but Girl Online is funny, sweet and a really engaging read.

Penny is the kind of girl that I think a lot of teen readers will be able to relate to. It was lovely to read a YA novel where the protagonist had a relatively “average” home life – parents who are present throughout the whole novel and who she gets on well with. An older brother away at college but whom she also has a very good sibling relationship with. Penny has a best friend named Elliott who lives next door but due to his father’s inability to accept him for who he is with his homosexuality, Elliott tends to spend most of his time at Penny’s. They’re incredibly close and it’s Elliott who knows that Girl Online is Penny, writing about the things that are important to her. At school, Penny is awkward and shy, having really only one close friend, a girl named Megan. As they grow older, Penny and Megan are drifting apart, becoming interested in different things. Megan is more like a “frenemy” than a real friend, often putting Penny down, making her feel insecure or going even further and doing things that downright humiliate her, especially when she feels threatened by Penny. I think everyone has had a “frenemy” in their time, someone who masquerades as a friend, who pretends that they’re saying kind things or trying to help when really they’re just trying to drag you down. Penny’s interactions with Megan are a bit frustrating at first, because she’s very passive and allows Megan to dominate but the way it pans out makes that frustration all worth it.

The book really shines when the characters descend upon New York. It’s there Penny meets Noah and he shows her a little bit of his New York, things and places that are important to him. We all know the famous New York landmarks such as the Empire State, Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, Times Square, MSG, etc. It was fun to focus on other things, things that someone like Noah, who is a native, values and finds important. Although the romance is lightning quick, it’s still rather cute and there’s a lot of emphasis on the fact that although Penny is clumsy and awkward, it doesn’t matter with Noah. He’s sometimes a bit awkward too and both of them confess really important things to each other and also seem to trust each other to see them at their most vulnerable. Noah’s family was really charming, although not without its own tragedy as well.

All this praise is not to say that the book is without flaw – as I mentioned, the romance is pretty quick. Although I do like the fact that they talk about interesting things and it’s more than just how hot Noah is, there’s still no denying that it’s whirlwind, especially to be talking love and soul mates. However Penny is only nearly 16, so I suppose that is what it’s like at that age (I’m trying to remember, it’s been a while!). Occasionally towards the end of the book, the message does become a bit heavy handed, when Penny gets “outed” as Girl Online and it blows up into huge proportions because of Noah’s secret. The conflict is also resolved really easily with after both characters jump to conclusions about the other, I think I would’ve appreciated a bit more of an in-depth conversation between them.

But really, they’re just small things. The book was still highly likable, I read it in one sitting and really enjoyed getting to know Penny. I kind of wish I’d been able to blog when I was a teenager. I have diaries, lots of them, but the ability to interact with other people and get their opinions, all the while staying anonymous, would definitely have been a bonus.


Book #244 of 2014


2 responses to “Review: Girl Online – Zoe Sugg

  1. Katrina says:

    Hello, maybe you are interested in this case, because I can see that you loved the book, so I thought you might love this cool case too! 🙂

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