Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Zoe Sugg: Girl Online | Book Review

Girl Online was never a novel that I intended on reading, I didn't like the cover of the novel; I liked the idea of fairly lights but I feel that the photos attached to the fairy lights made it look far too busy, considering that they are real photographs and I didn't really feel like the novel was my cup of tea. I did however, like how it appeared to be heavily based on Anxiety, which is something that Zoella has struggled with throughout her life. I will just add in here, that this review may contain spoilers.

I actually came across this novel in Audio book format which is something that hadn't really appealed to me before and I hadn't tried, I found the full audio book on YouTube (shh, we can't always follow the rules) and thought that if I could listen to it for free then I may as well. The audio book was over nine hours long which really puts into perspective how much time we all can spend reading a book and although I am not sure who read out the book, they had a very calming voice which I think is essential when finding an audio book for you because if you don't like the voice, then it'll probably ruin the book for you.

Upon starting this novel, it became very apparent for me that this book was targeted for much younger readers, it seemed that it should have been written for around the twelve/thirteen year old mark and it gave me some serious Angus Thongs & Full-Frontal Snogging vibes, which I am pretty sure that I read when I was in year seven. This novel was full to the brim of words that make me cringe, I lost count of the amount of times that I heard the words epic and cool and everything just seemed a little bit over exaggerated. There was also a couple of parts really early on that made me wonder if I am actually going to be able to get through this novel such as a part where Penny; the main character uses the phrase BFIS which means Best Friend in School and another part where Penny is talking about a teacher and says "that's another cringe factor about him, that he calls us by our nicknames". It all just seems a little childish yet on the other hand, there were references that are a bit more up to date where Penny refers to Bridget Jones, Jeremy Kyle and even Snoop Dog. I could honestly go on for hours about all of the comments that made me cringe, but I will leave you will this one before I move on; "his grin is puppy dog cute".

One thing that really got me and I couldn't avoid talking about was when Penny used the phrases "must think I'm crazy" and "looking at me like I'm demented" because these words have been used in a negative way and can really offend some readers, you would also think that Sugg would know better considering that not only her novel is based on Anxiety, but she had experienced Anxiety herself and she is a fully grown adult. It wouldn't even have been bad if it was a case of making a negative statement and then challenging it, but it was just thrown out as if it was nothing.

Having said that, I did like that Zoe's life had been shaped into Penny who is in year eleven at school and experiencing all of the high school drama. Penny experiences Anxiety and Panic Attacks throughout the novel and lives in Brighton, she even starts her own anonymous blog talking about her experiences where she signs off as Girl Online, Going Offline. At the end of some chapters, she would add in her blog post which made the novel slightly more unique and interesting.

The story line of this novel was completely unrealistic but I can't deny that it was quite sweet. Penny's mum has a wedding dress shop and gets asked to organise a Downton Abbey themed wedding in New York City just before Christmas. This news comes to Penny just after an awful day at School where she tripped on stage and showed her underwear off to the entire audience (are you getting Angus Thongs vibes yet?) and a video of her doing so had just gone viral on Social Media, she was also at a time where her Panic Attacks weren't manageable and her parents had no idea what was going on, the only person she had told was her next door neighbor and best friend Elliot and the readers of her blog. When she gets the news that they had all been invited to spend a few days in NYC, Penny, her older brother and Elliot were all rather disappointing; Elliot was worried about what he'd do with time away from Penny, Penny couldn't even think about getting on a plane without worrying and her brother was looking forward to seeing his girlfriend. The truth comes out and everyone is so supportive of Penny and a few days later, they all, minus her brother heads off to NYC. 

Penny has never had any luck with boys, she always manages to make a fool out of herself in some way or another, whether it be by falling over or saying the wrong thing, such as telling somebody that she has fleas. However, she unexpectedly stumbles across a guy whilst in New York that doesn't judge her, doesn't laugh at her and that she feels incredibly confident and calm around; she meets Noah who she refers to on her blog as Brooklyn Boy. Noah is a charming teenager who is a few years older than her and the two of them spend a day together, despite only just meeting. They bond instantly and even talk about their deepest secrets such as Penny's panic attacks and Noah loosing both of his parents. Penny feels like she knows everything about Noah, until she arrives back home in England where she discovers that Noah actually has more secrets that Penny is completely oblivious of and the truth all comes out within the end, it always does right? But not without even more drama floating around the internet about Penny and her secret identity behind her blog is revealed.

One thing that did surprise me, was that this novel had a relatively good ending and I actually enjoyed the ending, to the point that I feel that I need to read the next novel within this sequel because I need to know what happened. I also read some reviews and the next novel is apparently, slightly more mature and the story line flows a little better. Overall, I gave this novel a 2 out of 5 because I'm not sure if I would have gotten through it without having somebody read it to me, I must admit though, I did like being able to listen to it whilst getting on with other tasks but I wouldn't say that this novel alone is really worth reading, unless you are into unrealistic, teenage relationships and dramas.

Thank-you for reading, Tay x

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