Zoe Sugg,, for those of you who don't know yet,, is a 24 year old fashion and beauty vlogger from the United Kingdom. In several of Zoe's vlogs she mentioned that she has always loved writing and that she had even written a novel (unpublished) as a child. 'Girl Online' was written over the last while with the help of the 'ghost writer' Siobhan Curham. There was a lot of controversy over the fact that Zoe had not given any acknowledgements to her said 'ghost writer' and since then Zoe has come out and said things on the matter but either way it doesn't matter to me.
The main character Penny Porter is a sixteen year old anonymous blogger as well as a fantastic photographer but, like most teenagers that age is struggling with her own inner problems. The main issues which penny deals with on a almost daily basis are Penny are cyber bulling and anxiety drawn panic attacks. While Penny is adored by her fans, some who are even the people who are bullying her, she can't do anything because she wants her online alias to remain a secret. These help shape the character as well as provide her with a connection to the Yong Adult audience. For those that have watch Zoe's YouTube videos also know that Zoe herself struggles with these things, which makes one believe that Penny is actually just a younger version of Zoe. Cyber bulling is a serious issue that about 25% of teens deal with quite regularly. What may seem harmless is in fact one of the growing issues in daily society and the percentage of teens who have been bullied is only growing. Its a real issue, and while some people may say 'just log of your computer' or 'turn off your mobile phone' or even 'block the person so they can't contact you', a lot of the time that damage has already been dealt to the victim of bullying so they will always have this nagging reminder of what was said or done. Penny's is also dealing with anxiety while she is getting cyber bullied which only leads to her having panic attacks. These are not a fun thing and sometimes they can last for days, sure the level of panic will vary but the feeling of anxiety will always be there sitting in your gut. However, Penny's panic attacks are fueled by past experiences which have left a huge impact on her life, and when she starts to get cyber bullied it seems like the last straw and Penny's panic attacks start happening more regularly and she realizes eventually that this is something that she needs to tell her parents about. The message there within the story is really that you should feel like you have someone to talk to. Anxiety, panic attacks and cyber bullying are all serious issues and can sometimes lead to things like depression or self harm, Basically I find that Zoe has provided the audience with a role model which YA's can look at and see that if they are suffering from something similar sometimes the answer is telling someone close to you so you can see that the people around you do care for you. There are also help lines made for helping young people when they feel like they are alone. These help lines can be used anonymously and are a great help to thousands of people daily. I will leave the contact information at the end for you.
Penny's love interest Noah is basically the typical young gorgeous musician just playing his song and loving his ladies. Although, Penny seems to bring out a different side to him. A softer side to him. One thing that did annoy me about their relationship was how fast it was formed and how neglectful Penny started to become of her best friend Elliot. Also the fact that they were both keeping huge secrets from each other. Once again, this character made me stop and go, 'hang on this sounds familiar'. Was i the only person who Noah reminded of Zoe's boyfriend, Alfie Deyes? This is not a bad thing! Don't go hating! I find this adorable! I mean, even in the fictional world Zoe writes her dream guy as Alfie -AWWWW- its sickeningly adorable! Noah's secret is that he is also hiding an identity from Penny, just so she wont treat him differently, I won't give away what it is just in case you want to read the book, but its BIG.
The other characters were all written rather well as well, Elliot being the classic jealous best friend, the popular girls being the classic plastic barbies, and the original pretty boy from Penny's home town is the classic all looks no brains boy.
Its a fun enjoyable young teen novel. Its a really easy read, i read it in less than a day. And i actually found myself enjoying it. Although it did kind of remind me of a YouTuber fanfiction, i think that gave it a nice touch. Reading it you can really pick out classic Zoe thoughts and feelings and its quite rare to get that with YA fiction. Zoe really put her heart and soul into this book and she even dedicated it to her fans that have gave her the motivation all along -AWWW thanks Zoe!-
All in all, if you are after an easy afternoons read of romance, drama and comedy Zoe Suggs 'Girl Online' is the book for you!
Good Job Zoella!
- Savannah xx
Age recommendation: 10 - 16
All of the helplines below are 24/7 services and will listen anytime for any reason.
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800
Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636
Leaving links to the book trailer and Zoella's channel!
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