Author: Zoe Sugg
Cover Artist: Getty Images et al
Release Date: November 25th 2014
Genre: Teen Romance
Page Count: 352
Original Language: English
Format Read: Hardcover
Other books in series: Girl Online On Tour
Movie Adaptation: N/A (but I'm sure there will be one day)
I've been meaning to read this book for so long, but I'll be honest, I was initially put off by the bad press. But oh my god (just imagine Janice from Friends saying it) I cannot begin to describe how much I ended up enjoying this book. On to the review!
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.
*SPOILER ALERT: This review does not assume you have read the book*
I was really pleasantly surprised at this book in general. I shouldn't have waited this long to read it, and I truly regret not giving it a go. Sorry Zoe!
One thing to consider before reading this book, especially if you are a bit older, is that this book is directed towards young teenagers. And I'm talking the youngest on the scale. So if you have a problem with the preppy tone of the narrator and toned-down language, then I'd advise against it. But honestly? That didn't matter to me. Some of the descriptions were a little bit 'childish' (I can't think of a better word) but it was hardly noticeable after a few chapters. And it really did work for this novel, I felt. It is about a young girl experiencing her first proper crush, and that writing style worked perfectly.
The story was interesting. The unicorn knickers story was HILARIOUS. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of humour in this book, and it balanced out the darker tone of the novel which was Penny's anxiety.
As a person who suffers with anxiety, I never thought I'd find a book that would so realistically portray the feeling of panic and panic attacks. This was another thing that surprised me, and because of the way it is handled I have so much respect for this book.
Other things: I loved Penny and Elliot's friendship, and the strong bond they have. The settings continually gripped me - especially that secret restaurant in New York with the fish wall that lit up!
There are a few trigger warnings to take into account before reading this book, although it shouldn't stop you from appreciating it. There is the frequent mention of Anxiety and Penny's psychological struggle with it that is described, mentions and examples of school bullying, and betrayal. If you are triggered by any of these things then don't read it as there is probably not one page that doesn't mention one element, but if it is safe for you to do so then I would really recommend this book.
Overall, Girl Online is very enjoyable, with Penny being a character that I strongly connected with and was frighted for the entire time I was reading it on my way to France for my holiday. Yep, I ended up being glued to this book on the car journey and ended up feeling sick afterwards because apparently you're not supposed to read in cars...
But it was just that good.
It is a book I would definitely re-read, and I should have had more faith in it and read it sooner. I'm giving it three cups of tea because of it's tone of voice that's directed towards a younger audience, but it is a very high three, and a very well-deserved one at that.
About the author:
Zoe Sugg is an English fashion and beauty blogger, YouTuber, and now a best selling author. She is best known by her nine million viewers on YouTube as Zoella. Her debut novel, Girl Online, was released in November 2014 and broke the record for highest first-week sales of a first-time novelist since Nielsen BookScan began compiling such records in 1998.