Girl Online – book review

Girl Online

Girl Online is the beautifully written and stunning book by Zoe Sugg.

Penny has a secret. She has a blog and under the alias Girl Online, she write about all her school dramas, boys, her somewhat crazy family – and the panic attacks she’s been suffering from lately. When things turn from bad to worse, her family whisks her and her best friend Elliot away to New York. There, in the magical city, she meets the gorgeous, guitar-strumming Noah. Suddenly Penny is falling in love – and capturing every beautiful second of it on her blog.

But Noah has a secret too. It’s one that threatens to ruin Penny’s cover – and her closest friendship – forever.

*

I absolutely loved reading Girl Online. I had been excited to read this ever since I learned that one of my favourite YouTubers, Zoella, was having a book published. To be honest, I would read anything Zoe wrote because I think she’s a wonderful woman and a great role model. But I didn’t love this book simply because it’s written by Zoella, I loved it because it was a great book, regardless of who wrote it. I think it’s unfair to judge a book based on who writes it, it needs to be judged based on the quality of the writing and how it ultimately makes you feel. And this book definitely made me feel.

This book is ultimately about a girl with anxiety trying to express her emotions and things that go on with her through her anonymous blog. I really loved the ideas that were explored in this book. Having a main character with anxiety felt like something that hasn’t been done before in a YA book. I haven’t read any book that deals with issues like anxiety. I loved Girl Online because a few of my friends have problems with anxiety and I’ve never known what it must really be like for them. I try to be a supportive friend, but it’s hard when you don’t know how that feels and what could prompt these panic attacks, which the main character, Penny, also suffers from. By reading this book, I learnt more about what it must feel like to live with anxiety. I’m not saying I’m now an expert on the issue, I’m just saying this book has definitely given me an insight into what my friends and thousands and thousands of people must be dealing with. Almost every book that I read teaches me something knew or opens my eyes to a new aspect of life, and Girl Online is no exception.

Parts of this book could come across as a little cliché, but I liked it nonetheless. I’ve read books similar to this one, but that doesn’t mean I loved Girl Online any less. It was a very satisfying read and it kept me intrigued the whole time. There wasn’t one single moment in this book that I was bored because the pacing was perfect. I ended up finishing this book in less than a day. I bought the book from my local bookshop in the morning, and by late afternoon, I was turning the last page, tears of satisfaction in my eyes. If you’ve read some of my other reviews, you’ll know that I’m an emotional crier and I’ll cry in almost every book I read. This book was just so satisfying and I loved the ending that I couldn’t help but shed a tear. Do any of you cry from satisfaction?

One part I really enjoyed reading of this book was the parts written by Girl Online, Penny’s alias. These were in the form of blog posts, and she would write about things she’s feeling or things that are going on in her life as the moment. I loved reading these and they really added to the story. Most of the things that were written on Penny’s blog weren’t discussed in that particular way from what went on in Penny’s mind throughout the book. I would definitely follow Girl Online’s blog! It was really interesting to read some of the comments on the blog too, and to be honest, it made me want to set up an anonymous blog, even though I’d probably write on it twice and not get nearly as many followers as Girl Online had.

The characters were stunning and so beautifully written, and they’d have to be my favourite thing about this book. Penny was a brilliant main character. I loved her personality and everything about her was believable. I loved seeing and hearing about how clumsy she was, because that’s exactly what I’m like! Okay, maybe not quite as clumsy as Penny, but very nearly. I loved seeing her character develop throughout the book. Penny started as a somewhat shy girl that cared about what everyone thought of her and worried about how other people saw her. I liked seeing her grow into the person she wanted to be and how she learnt that the opinions of other people don’t matter as much as her own. She learnt that people are always going to be judgemental and there will always be those types of people in the world that just want to cause trouble, but she learnt that those people don’t matter. The people that matter to her are her family and friends. In the beginning of the book, she was afraid of her anxiety and panic attacks and didn’t know how to deal with them. As the book progresses, and with some helpful tips, Penny learnt how to accept these things, and from there, she could try to make things better. Penny also struggles with bullying and this theme was explored in the book as well. This book is definitely not just a sweet, light story, it has a lot of depth to it and I really appreciated reading about these important issues that almost every person has to deal with at some point or another in their life. Overall, Penny was a loveable character who was very easy to connect with. Everything that was going on in her life was realistic and I absolutely loved following her on this journey.

Another one of my favourite characters was Elliot. I loved his personality and how close he was with Penny. He was a fun character to be around and he always had something hilarious to say. I also loved reading about Noah, the boy with the mysterious past. I guessed Noah’s ‘big secret’ long before I was proven to be correct just because I’ve recently read a book similar to this, but that didn’t make the suspense less real. I still was guessing if I was going to be right or not, and I loved the way things played out with Noah. He was a beautifully written character and I absolutely loved learning more about him and his life before meeting Penny. I would really love to sit and type about all of the characters in this book all day long, but I think that you just really need to read the book if you haven’t already. One last thing I’m going to say on characters is that they’re all so vividly different from one another in this story and although some of them can be a tiny bit one-dimensional, they were all fantastic to read about.

Having a lot of this book set in New York was also amazing to read about. To me, New York is like another character in itself. New York is just such a vibrant place where anything goes. I recently went to New York for the first time and I was as overwhelmed as Penny was. I loved reading about New York and it really brought back some great memories. If you’ve never been to New York, this book pretty much shows it perfectly – the loudness of the streets, the yellow taxis lining the roads, the red brick buildings of Brooklyn, the skyscrapers reaching into the clouds. New York is really both a magical and gritty place to set a story in. There’s a certain charm and lure about New York City that makes it so wonderful and it really shapes the characters and the writing of any novel that it set there.

Overall, I completely loved reading Girl Online. The characters were vibrant and alive, the plot, even though somewhat predictable and clichéd, was fun to read and the overall book flowed very smoothly. The voice of 16 year-old Penny was perfectly written and extremely believable. I’m so pleased I loved reading this book and I’m so incredibly happy for Zoella. I’d give Girl Online by Zoe Sugg a score of 9 out of 10. I can’t wait to read whatever Zoe writes next!

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