Hi everyone! Hope your all having a fantastic Tuesday. Yesterday I finished reading Girl Online by Zoe Sugg and I loved it! I am a huge fan of Zoella. She is such an inspirational person and I have been meaning to pick up her book for a long time.
This is truly a 21st century story. It is a lot more “real-worldy” than some other contemporaries. By that I mean in the way it refers to things like YouTube, Facebook, 1D and Downton Abbey. I thought this was really cool because it makes me feel like I could be reading about people I know.
It is set in the digital era. Digital communication is at the forefront of how the characters socialise and stay in contact, which I think is very relevant for today’s young audience. It is a very modern story that is refreshing and interesting to read.
Penny is a very likable character. She is a loyal friend and a loving daughter and sister. She is a talented writer. She is clumsy and hopeless with boys, constantly feeling like she has made a fool of herself in front of her biggest crush, Ollie. Her voice is very honest and I quickly began to relate to the things she goes through.
By the end of the story we don’t think too kindly of Ollie and Megan (Penny’s ex-best friend). I mean, Ollie is slightly less malicious than Megan, he just seems to be lacking in common decency and is probably pretty selfish. But Megan. She is just so nasty. The twists and turns in the storyline run fittingly alongside the development of these two characters. I was cheering when Penny and Ollie threw their milkshakes all over them it!
I love Penny’s relationship with her family – which includes Ollie. They all support each other so much. I love how her brother, Tom, reacts to different events throughout the book. He definitely has that kind of I’m-the-brother-and-I’m-gonna-sort-this-out thing going on.
And then there’s Noah. He just seems too good to be true. I imagine him to be very good looking – obviously – and so sweet and caring. He takes Penny to the coolest, secret places in New York, sets up adorable picnics and shares his life with her – all apart from one secret. And that secret almost ruins everything.
I think it is brilliant that the negative side of the online world is included in the story. And it isn’t referenced lightly and brushed over, it is a prominent part of the plot throughout the whole book. From the video of Penny being posted on Facebook by her so called “best friend,” to all the controversy surrounding her blog and Noah Flynn. It is a powerful message and well portrayed through the characters emotions. It emphasises how things can be misconceived when communicating online as the towards the end the characters all get caught up in a huge misunderstanding which almost tears Penny away from both Noah and Ollie!
Another emotional aspect of the story is Penny’s struggles with anxiety. I think the descriptions of Penny’s panic attacks are very well written. As I am not someone who has ever experienced a panic attack, I think it really helped me to try and imagine what it feels like. This meant I felt even more supportive of the main character and I didn’t want her to be hurt by stupid Ollie and Megan!
I love how many twists there are in the storyline. I never knew what was going to happen next. It was cool to read about the characters adventures in New York. The main characters are all bright and bubbly and the different events and incidents worked with their development and worked nicely in the context of the whole story.
Other things I liked
I really enjoyed reading the chapters that were entries on Penny’s blog, Girl Online, and the little bubbles of text messages. Since I am a blogger and I like blogging – and I also like reading blogs – I think this is a really fun addition to the style of the story. We get to know Penny as “Girl Online” as if we are one of her followers.
I think the intertextual references are also really fun. The reference to Augustus Waters, one of the main characters in The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, especially made me smile…
“If you could invite any fictional character to a picnic who would it be?”
“Augustus Waters from The Fault in Our Stars,” I say. “So I could bring him back to life.”
Penny and Noah, page 195.
When I was reading I pulled out a message on page which I thought was really powerful…
“My life can be anything I want it to be – as long as I remember that it’s mine. Not theirs.”
Penny, page 308.
I love this quote. I think it can be easy to forget sometimes that we are all in control of our own lives. And we can do anything we want if we put our minds to it. The messages in this book about accepting your fears and being able to let them in until they fade away is an amazing message. Not everything we try and do is going to be easy, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do it.
There are two other things very right with this book. The first is that it includes Christmas – which I love! And the second is this quote…
“We spend the evening eating pizza and watching old episodes of Friends…”
Penny, page 327.
Perhaps not so thought provoking as the other one, but still so great.
Let me know if you’ve read this book and what you thought in the comments.
Lots of love,