Title: Girl Online
Author: Zoe Sugg
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: 25th November 2014
Rating: 1/5 stars
Penny has a secret.
Under the alias Girl Online, Penny blogs her hidden feelings about friendship, boys, her crazy family and the panic attacks that have begun to take over her life. When things go from bad to worse, her family whisks her away to New York, where she meets Noah, a gorgeous, guitar-strumming American. Suddenly Penny is falling in love – and capturing every moment of it on her blog.
But Noah has a secret too. One that threatens to ruin Penny’s cover – and her closest friendship – forever.
I would not have read this book had it not been on the Dymocks 101 list I challenged myself to finish in my March Wrap-Up. Not only do I not follow any You-Tubers, and had no idea who Zoella was, but I don’t like the idea of ghost-writing. In addition, based on the blurb I was fairly sure I wasn’t going to like this book…..
And I wasn’t wrong. From the get-go, there were problems. The characters are all pretty stereotypical, and none of them seem to have flaws – excluding the bitchy Megan, who is completely flawed, and the popular, attractive Ollie, who is incredibly shallow.
Penny felt completely flat as a character, and just a little unrealistic – she has this seemingly perfect, supportive family, but refuses to ask them for help when she has panic attacks. When they finally find out, they are incredibly supportive, which she expected them to be, so why was it such a massive problem to tell them in the first place?
And then we have the boy problem. (WARNING: SPOILERS IN THIS PARAGRAPH). Penny falls in love with a seemingly normal boy, but he turns out to be Internet musical sensation Noah Flynn. What kind of blogger is not at least a little bit aware of what else is going on in the Internet? And what kind of teenage girl isn’t perpetually bombarded (through social media, conversations, etc.) with information about the current heart-throbs – I, like Penny, wasn’t particularly interested, but was still aware who Justin Bieber was because of the girls I was surrounded by at school, whether they were my friends or not. Her parents also let her spend all her time with a strange boy in a strange city – not particularly responsible, or realistic, based on my own parents and those of my friends; they were concerned when I started dating the boy next door (yes, this is a real thing – I am a stereotype).
Blog posts are interspersed randomly throughout the novel, chapters unto themselves. They were a good detractor from the mind-numbing dullness of the story. I felt that her anonymity was a bit of a hard sell as well – she puts her photos on her blog, and she is known for her photography at school, people know where she is from – it wouldn’t be too hard for kids at her school to put two and two together.
People who like sugar-coated, silly teenage love stories, this is probably the kind of book you would enjoy. For the rest of us, stay well away. The romance, the characters, the whole premise of the book is just a little stupid. Completely unrealistic and too juvenile even for its young adult market – with the vast range of brilliant YA books out there, I am disappointed that this book has managed to stay on the best seller lists for so long – and even more disappointed that I bought my own copy.
The whole book had me feeling like this:
I am less embarrassed about my use of a Futurama meme (a show which I watch with my boyfriend under duress), than I am about dedicating valuable reading time to this book.