Sunday, December 28, 2014

Girl Online by Zoe Sugg (Zoella)

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22510983Title: Girl Online
Author: Zoe Sugg
Publisher: Atria/Keywords Press
Publication date: November 25, 2014
Pages: 352
Buy: Amazon
Rating: 1.5/5 stars

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.

I love Zoe Sugg. I think she's a wonderful person who lights up the world. I won't deny that I follow her YouTube channel and that I pretend to be her best friend as I watch her vlogs. To be honest, I wanted to read this only because of Zoe. Gotta support her, right? And while Zoe's brilliant at many things, unfortunately she didn't quite hit the mark with Girl Online.

Flipping to the first page, I was apprehensive. I was not quite sure what to expect from a novel written by a YouTuber. I didn't know how Zoe could write and if she could even write. And while I know it was judgmental of me to think of the book that way, I still wanted it to be a success. 

Sadly, I was disappointed. 

First, Girl Online seemed like a retelling of the story of Zoe's life. Penny, our awkward and clumsy narrator, is almost a mirror of Zoe. She lives in Brighton, loves fairy lights and scented candles, suffers from panic attacks, the list goes on. Good on her that she stuck to the "write what you know" rule, but I guess she didn't realize that you need to bend what you know sometimes. 

Second, the plot was so cliched. Girl meets Boy during a vacation and they fall in love right away, Girl has to leave but they promise to love each other forever, until Girl finds out that Boy has been hiding a big secret that's usually related to fame. Um, okay? Like I obviously have not heard of that before. It would have been better if there were more twists and complications in the big cliche, but there weren't any! Which leads me to my next point...

Third, everything was unrealistic. So Penny and Noah have known each other for a couple of hours and suddenly it's love? Er, right... Also, everything was too convenient for the characters. Oh, Penny doesn't have much time left with Noah because she has to go home for Christmas? Don't worry, let's just make them stay there longer like magic! I'm serious -- everything had a magical solution right around the corner. It felt odd, because before Penny went to New York, her life in Brighton was an absolute mess and nothing went her way. Apparently being in New York means everything will suddenly fall into place.

Fourth, the characters were exciting, but that made them dull. How, you ask? Having a character that seems to hold the role perfectly does not mean that character is interesting. A character needs depth to make him or her appealing to the readers. In this case, majority of the characters in Girl Online were pulled out of that creepy world in Coraline, where everything seems perfect.

And finally, the writing. I'll have to admit that I was not that put off by the writing because, you know. What I didn't like were the repetitive descriptions, especially in the first couple of chapters. Apparently, Zoe had help from a team, but still... the book had a lot of lines which, I think, should have been deleted. At times, I felt like I was reading from the POV of a very immature fifteen-year-old, which really did not add to the cuteness factor I think they were aiming for.

Girl Online gave me this: lots of clumsiness, panic attacks, one hot boy, and a rushed story. Although it didn't hit the mark of the things mentioned above, it addressed a few issues that need to be talked about more. It clearly highlights cyberbullying, responsible use of the Internet, and panic attacks. For a book that tackles all of those, it could have been a great novel. Unfortunately, even if one's aim is right, the resources need to be at par, too.

If you like a cutesy read with a very cliched plot, read Girl Online. You won't be disappointed with the level of fluff that is in this book. But if you want a book that has complex characters, A+ writing, with a dash of adventure, then this book is not for you. 


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