Thursday, May 28

[Review] Girl Online - Zoe Sugg

Author: Zoe Sugg
Original Title: Girl Online
Publisher: Penguin
Release Date: November 25th, 2014
Finished Date: March 12th, 2015
Pages: 352
Read in: English

From YouTube sensation Zoella comes a debut coming-of-age novel that perfectly captures what it means to grow up and fall in love in today’s digital world. Girl Online is the first book to be published by Keywords Press, an imprint under Simon & Schuster dedicated to today’s digital stars.
I have this dream that, secretly, all teenage girls feel exactly like me. And maybe one day, when we realize that we all feel the same, we can all stop pretending we’re something we’re not. That would be awesome. But until that day, I’m going to keep it real on this blog and keep it unreal in “real” life.
Penny has a secret.
Under the alias GirlOnline, Penny blogs her hidden feelings about friendship, boys, high school drama, her quirky family, and the panic attacks that have begun to take over her life. When things go from bad to worse at school, her parents accept an opportunity to whisk the family away for Christmas at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. There, she meets Noah, a gorgeous, guitar-strumming American. Suddenly Penny is falling in love—and capturing every moment she spends with “Brooklyn Boy” on her blog.
But Noah has a secret, too, one that threatens to ruin Penny’s cover—and her closest friendship—forever.
Award-winning and influential YouTube vlogger Zoe Sugg delivers a heartfelt coming-of-age novel that perfectly captures the highs and lows of first love, friendship, and growing up in the digital age.
Source: GoodReads

Final Rating: ★★ out of 5

I know there has been a lot of controversy around this book and the way it was written, especially about the lack of transparency of the author in regards to her ghost writer.
Despite all that, I decided to give it a try, and judge it as I would judge any other book. The end result differed from what I expected. Although it was not exactly good it wasn't terrible either. 
It deals with very serious issues in a realistic manner, among a (almost too) fluffy romance.
I recommend this to younger teens (12-15 years old).

The following extended review contains spoilers
If you have not yet read the book and/or do not wish to be spoiled, please do not read any further.

This book is rated as young-adult, but in comparison to most young-adult books I’ve read, it has a more middle-grade-ish feel to it. The story follows a young girl, Penny, as she creates her own  anonymous blog where talks about school dramas, family dramas and personal issues under the pen name of Girl Online. After a while (too little while to be realistic) she becomes sort of famous on the Internet. She then goes on holiday to New York, where she meets an extremely famous rock star with whom she has a little fling, all the while not knowing he was a rock star and already had a girlfriend. 
This ends up being a very dramatic, unrealistic and overly-romantic story but I didn’t think it was worthless. Sure, the writing is terrible, but the themes that are discussed and the moral values this tries to convey are incredibly important.
It is not everyday that I read a book that treats issues like panic attacks, social anxiety, bullying, cyber-bullying and homosexuality so realistically, and with such a positive outlook on them.
«I see Megan raise her eyebrows and I instantly feel like I’ve done something wrong. Megan’s very good at making me feel this way.»
The unescapable feeling during a panic attack was described perfectly and without romanticism, which I appreciated. I believe that this can give solace to many young people who've been suffering from issues like these, and in result feel left out. 
«I feel a familiar tightness gripping my throat. I try to swallow but it’s impossible. I feel trapped inside the booth. Please don’t let this be happening again, I silently plead. But it is.»
I did like all the positivity in the book. It is all about Penny overcoming her fears and her issues, and learning to be okay with who she is. Knowing she can stand alone instead of being in a constricting friendship, and that she'll be okay.
«I’ve decided that I’m not going to try to squeeze myself into a friendship that hurts me anymore. I’m going to let her go and  just be friends with people who make me feel good about myself.»
There were loads of things that pissed me off about this book: the insta-love, the annoying naiveness of Penny, the way everything was a fairytale and especially the way she talked to Noah’s little sister - I HATE it when people talk condescendingly to children. Just because they are little, doesn’t mean they are stupid. Children are young, not dumb.
But I can still see that it is not a failure of a book. This is the kind of book I wouldn’t mind having the little people in my family read. It is entirely appropriate for a younger audience, and I’m sure if I were younger, I would have liked it much more.

«Every time you post something online you have a choice. You can either make it something that adds to the happiness levels in the world - or you can make it something that takes away.»
What did you think? Let me know in the comments! :)

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