Girl Online Review

Over my Christmas break I finally got some time to read. A week before I had started reading Zoe Sugg´s first novel called „Girl Online“. It´s not Zoe or her fame that got me to buy this book (okay, that was a tiny part of the reason) but the KLAPPENTEXT. A book about a girl that has a hard time in school, writes a blog and then falls in love, could this be anymore like me? Well, I haven´t fallen in love yet but I can dream, can´t I?  This is going to be a long post (because I can´t make a book review short) so grab a cup of tea and some snacks and enjoy!

The Characters

The main persona in Girl Online is a 14-year-old girl called Penny. She has wild, curly, red hair and freckles. She feels very insecure about her look and her personalitv because of the people at her school. She is also very clumsy, not a genius when it comes to social interaction and in love with photography. At first she looked like a perfect replica of myself except for her outer looks but something in the way she acts startles me. It seems to me that she is a bit too naive and sometimes even a bit stupid.  It was very hard for me to get into her character. I feel like she could be a younger version of myself that hasn´t lived through the things I have lived through by now. There are still a lot of traits of her that I can relate to.

Therefore I loved all the other characters. They were written extremely well and naturally. I can name you a person I know in real life that could represent a character. Penny´s best (and super gay) friend Elliot has to be my absolute favorite character. I´ve always wanted a gay best friend and Elliot would be perfect. He is cool, warmhearted, TREU and so supportive of Penny. Noah, Penny´s love interest, is a dream boy for me. He is an 18-year-old handsome, guitar stringin, singing american boy that is hard to not fall in love with. He also has a vulnerable, smart and romantic side to him. Penny´s family just reminds me of my own family: fully supportive and just a bit crazy.

There are also a few characters from Penny´s school mentioned but they don´t play a very important role. I can say though that they are also written very well. The intrigues they spin and how they act with each other is so very true to how I found many classmates to be.

The Plot

Sadly, the storyline is not that hard to guess once you´ve read the first fifteen chapters. I didn´t mind that too much though, it was fun to read how the twist were build up and how the characters dealt with them. The book has a very slow pace at the beginning and only picks up speed shortly before we get to meet Noah which is close to the middle of the book.

On the positive side, the book is written in a very simple and relatable style. It´s easy to understand and follow the characters thoughts and decisions. It seems almost like this story is directly taken out of the real world. I also loved the inputs oft text messages  with Penny´s thought processes about how to write something in between. I myself struggle often with the ways I should answer and what is appropriate, so i could really relate to that. Additionally, the blog posts in which Penny tells her readers what she has experienced are a nice input as well. The book makes a lot of references to amazing other stories like Frozen and The Fault in Our Stars. I instantly gave Zoe some bonus points for that.

I do have to say that the ending was a bit too fast and too easy for me. The last chapter could have used a few pages morejust to make it more natural and relatable. Also I am a big fan of epilogies as most last chapters end rather abruptly just like this one does. Ending a book on an abrupt note can be incredibly well done (e.g. The Fault in Out Stars), but most books need an epilogue to ease the story out.

The Themes

The book accesses themes of social media (and media in general), friendships, love and romance, anxiety and blogging in a great and understandable way. I feel like this book can be very relatable for younger people as they often deal with those topics. In the way it handles those themes, Girl Online could actually educate its readers.

Especially the view on anxiety is something I will take from this book. It´s showing that you don´t have to hide your anxiety and that letting it out often is way better for you. Often the people around you might have great tips for you and they will often be very understanding. I might even use some of the mentioned techniques to reduce my exam anxiety.

Media in general is a very important topic in the book. Penny is a blogger, so she deals with the internet every day. To keep in contact with friends in school she also uses social media. The book makes a very clear point in how media works and how it can change up the facts to make them fit it´s story. Especially Penny´s last blog post explains this very well. It also has a look on how people can misuse the internet to embarass people publicly and how people sometimes hide behind the internet´s anonymity and hate on others.  I think those are important topics that need to be explained to the younger generations as otherwise they will be a victim of this.

Another thing this book deals with is falling in love. It explains that you can fall in love with the idea of loving someone and then feel completely awkward and how different it feels when you are acutally in love. It doesn´t have to be love love, this book also projects the topic on friendships. In general it makes clear that you should always feel completely comfortable in between your friends/with your boyfriend/girlfriend. Love and friendship is a theme that is important in everyones youth. In today´s world kids are pressured into being in love/having a relationship and having to be friends with the cool  kids even though that´s not necessary.

I know there have been a lot of rumours about this book and Zoe writing it. I could write a whole book about how I feel about this discussion and how I don´t understand the importance of it. In the end, it all comes down tot he fact that I don´t really care about that. If Zoe is happy with the book (wether she has written it fully, for the most part, for a little part or not at all) that shouldn´t be our concern. If someone bought the book just because it´s been written by her than that´s the completely wrong way to buy a book. The theme/plot oft he book should always be the main reason to buy it!

In conclusion, the book is a quick and easy read that doesn´t require too much thinking on the reader´s side. I´ve read it in 3.5 hours  and for the most part in one night because I couldn´t put it down. For the most part is´s a very light hearted book that gets quite wise in the end.  How I feel about the ending and the character of Penny is just my personal opinion that not everybody has to share. I guess I am not a part of Zoe´s focus group anymore and therefore a bit too old to absolutely love this book. I know I would have identified with Penny and loved this book to death when I was five years younger.  Now it´s a book I enjoyed reading. I like the themes it coveres and the way it deals with those. I think this book can helpt many young girls in today´s world to deal with everything around them and maybe understand the world a bit better.

What´s your opinion on this book? Have you read it?

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