Penguin Random House UK – Published November 25th 2014.
I had no idea GirlOnline would take off the way it has – I can’t believe I now have 5432 followers, thanks so much! – and the thought of opening up to you all about this is terrifying, but here goes…
Penny has a secret.
Under the alias GirlOnline, she blogs about school dramas, boys, her mad, whirlwind family – and the panic attacks she’s suffered from lately. When things go from bad to worse, her family whisks her away to New York, where she meets the gorgeous, guitar-strumming Noah. 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.
Let me start off by saying that I am glad I waited a couple of days after reading this before writing my review as Zoe has now confirmed she had a ghostwriter (Siobhan Curham).
I have very mixed feelings about ‘Girl Online’. The writing style is very immature but at 28 years old, I’m not sure that I am the target market for this novel. I would recommend it more for ages 12-18. It is a very light read with a rather predictable plotline –
- awkward girl meets hot boy
- best friend becomes jealous
- hot boy teaches awkward girl to believe in herself
- boy and girl are separated
- they begin to doubt their relationship and break up
- big reunion at the end and everything is peachy
I can’t help but feel I’ve read this multiple times before. It’s the classic ‘teen angst’ plot line. Little things about the story bothered me, like using all the standard ‘touristy’ places in Brighton – beach, pier, Choccywoccydoodah etc. I would have thought that people actually living in Brighton would have had their fill of these places and visit other locations not swarming with tourists. If any of my readers are from Brighton, please feel free to correct me on that as I am just assuming.
Another issue I had with this novel is the believability of Noah as a famous musician and song writer. If you have read the lyrics of his song’Autumn Girl’ you will probably get my point. I mean…really?!
Some plot points seem to be thrown in just to fill up pages. Elliot’s homophobic father just seemed like an afterthought and Ollie suddenly deciding that he likes Penny just doesn’t sit right with me. I mean, I get that Ollie is a symbol of her awkward phase before she met Noah and that Noah represents how she has blossomed into a confident young lady (at this point I have Britney Spears ‘I’m Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman’ in my head but you get where I’m coming from) but why, after 4 or 5 years does Ollie suddenly want her? There is no reason given. I’m probably being pedantic here but it annoyed me.
Anyway, enough whining, lets get to what I did enjoy about ‘Girl Online’. It was a light enough read to pull me out of an almost-4-month reading slump. I could just switch off and relax whilst reading it and didn’t have to concentrate too hard to follow what was going on. I only actually took around 3 hours to read this which surprised me as the book does look fairly hefty but if you look inside you will see the print is quite large. Honestly, the book could have been condensed down a lot more to save paper. I am however, interested to see where Zoe (Siobhan?) goes with the next installment.
I have deliberated long and hard about the rating for ‘Girl Online’. I originally wanted to give it 2.5 stars but in the spirit of the holiday season and taking into account the fact that it has eased me out of my reading slump, I will give it 3 stars. I would recommend this for teen readers who want a nice, easy read over the Christmas holidays.