Girl Online, but not on my favorites list.
Girl Online follows Penny, a girl from England who runs a popular blog that details her everyday life and suffers from anxiety and panic attacks. After drama at school sends her anxiety through the roof, Penny happily travels with her family to the states so her mother can plan a Christmas wedding. Once in the Big Apple, Penny falls for a gorgeous boy.
Even though I follow Zoe Sugg, known as Zoella on Youtube, I don’t watch her videos frequently enough to know that she had a young adult series. When I first saw this book, I assumed it was an autobiography. However, my sister informed that it was a young adult book and a lot of controversy surrounded it because people questioned how much Zoe Sugg actually wrote. I will not focus my review on this controversy, but instead review its content as I would for any other young adult book.
First, I’ll begin with the positives. Even though Penny’s situation most likely wouldn’t happen in real life, I thought she was a relatable young adult character. Many readers also struggle with anxiety and hope to make it big on the internet. I also thought Penny’s voice was very realistic and I actually found myself reading the book in Zoe’s voice.
I also really enjoyed the last twenty pages or so of the book a lot. I thought the action was really great and I saw Penny growing as a character and finally standing up for herself. However, I was also slightly disappointed in the end because all the growth was instantly dropped the moment the boy came back into the picture. I know there is another book in this series and another one the way, so I think I would be more interested to pick up the next books if the drama remained unresolved between Penny and her love interest.
While I liked Penny and her growth towards the end of the book, I do have several problems with this book. First off is the plot. Besides the end of the novel, most of the book is plot-driven rather than character-driven and consists of “cute” moments between Penny and Noah. A lot of these moments have been done numerous times before and I just found the doll part a little strange. I also think the foreshadowing of Noah’s “secret” was way too predictable. No event in this book really set it apart from books in the same genre.
Many of the characters also fell into typical stereotypes. Her best friend was always a villain, her crush was a good guy trapped in the clutches of the evil (but extremely talented girl), and Noah was the perfect guy. Her true best friend (I can’t remember his name), also was problematic for me. I understand he had family problems and Penny was really his only friend, but I think the author made him too jealous most of the time. Even though he was definitely one of the more complex characters in the book, the constant jealousy made him a tad unlikable to me.
I’ve read many books similar to Girl Online that I’ve rated three stars, however, I have to give Girl Online only two stars because I just didn’t enjoy it like other books I’ve read with similar plots. I found myself constantly putting down and not wanting to pick it up again. When I finally got into it, I was only disappointed by the ending.