Recently, I finished reading Girl Online, a 344-page realistic fiction book by Zoe Sugg, an English vlogger and Internet personality, also known as Zoella on YouTube.
Girl Online is the first book that Zoe Sugg has written, and it is accompanied by two other books in the series. The novel is a Young Adult New York Times Bestseller and it was the fastest selling book of 2014. Since records began, Girl Online broke the record for highest first-week sales for a debut author.
This was a re-reading for me; I read Girl Online a couple years ago and forgot about it. I was looking for books to read and suddenly remembered this one. I’m glad that I re-read this novel, because re-reading a book brings back so many memories and thoughts. New questions stir in your head and you are more aware of what you are reading. It’s like having a random spark of memory or recognition of a person that you know you have seen before, but can’t quite remember what from.
In the novel Girl Online, the narrator, Penny is a 15-year-old girl who suffers from anxiety attacks. She lives in London and writes a blog where her identity is hidden and people refer to her as “Girl Online.” Penny lives next door to her best friend Elliot and they use a secret knocking code to communicate. Penny’s parents own a bridal business, and one day get a huge opportunity for a Downton Abbey themed wedding. They get to go to New York City and stay at the Waldorf Astoria, a grand and beautiful hotel, where the wedding is taking place. There, she meets Noah, a boy who has quite a lot in common with her, and she finds that she really likes him. But she barely has time to see him and her flight back home is in a couple days. She is upset that she met someone so caring and right for her, just to leave him. The whole trip teaches her so much about life and friendship and back at home, she still can’t get Noah off her mind. Will she ever see him again?
I was surprised that Noah and Penny connected so quickly. Already, in one day, they knew so much about each other. Penny told him all about her anxiety and he told her an embarrassing secret; they were both so comfortable with each other that they could share some of their most personal things.
I liked the way the author wrote the book. She did a great job of creating character relationships throughout the storyline. There was the biggest one: Penny and Noah, and ones like Penny and Elliot or Penny and Megan. (Her ex-best friend from school.) Sugg included blog-posts that Penny wrote as “Girl Online” and this taught the reader more about the main character and how she felt about certain things. Like anxiety attacks or growing out of an old friend, for example.
I didn’t like how the author wrote the main part of the book in only a span of about three days. This was unrealistic, as most relationships don’t exactly form instantly. I wish that the author gave Penny’s family more time in New York because this was unfair for the characters, and like I explained before, it is completely unrealistic and in some people’s eyes, impossible.
The passage that I liked the most from Girl Online is on page 162:
“Do you know what an inciting incident is?” Noah says as he turns off the engine. I shake my head. “It’s the point at the start of a movie where something happens to the hero that changes their life forever. You’ve seen Harry Potter, right?” I nod. “Well the inciting incident in that movie is when Hagrid tells Harry Potter he’ll be a great wizard someday and gives him the invite to Hogwarts.”
“Oh, right.” Noah looks down at his lap, like he’s embarrassed. “I think that’s what you might be to me.”
I like this passage because I think it is creative in literature. The author used a well known book/movie for a reference, and I find that interesting and ingenious. I have never heard of someone using the saying, an ‘inciting incident’, so this taught me something new. This also shows how strong and unique the relationship between Noah and Penny is.
I am grateful that I re-read Girl Online. I loved it and this best-selling novel taught me a few different lessons that I hadn’t really thought of before. I rate this book an 8/10 and I definitely recommend reading it.