REVIEW: Girl Online by Zoe Sugg

December 6, 2014

Edition: Penguin Australia Paperback
Release Date: November 26th 2014
Pages: 346
Series: Girl Online #1
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Source: Received as an ARC from Penguin Teen Australia (Thank you)
Links: Goodreads | Author's Website | Buy the book

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.

Girl Online is a new young adult release surrounded by much hype. Why? Because it’s Zoe Sugg’s debut novel. If you aren’t aware of who Zoe Sugg is, (I’m sure most of you are and have probably subscribed to her channel) she is a internet personality, youtuber, blogger and now author. Her channel “Zoella” which includes beauty, fashion and lifestyle vlogs has over 6.6 million subscribers. So this is sorta a big deal.

I’ll be honest and say that I was a bit apprehensive about reading this because it bugged me that youtubers were offered publishing deals when a) no one knows if they can write and b) being an internet celebrity doesn't (or shouldn’t) guarantee this “writing ability” c) so many aspiring authors have to work so hard get themselves contracts and d) to be honest I was a bit jealous. Not just because Zoe has interviewed and been in the same room as One Direction but.. an aspiring author like myself can only dream of being offered a publishing deal just like that.

So basically I turned the first page with envious eyes. Yes, yes, I know they say Jealousy is a mental cancer but I’m only human. That aside, I was surprised to find myself getting much further in Girl Online than any other book i’d attempted in the past two months and also, enjoying it.

To give you an idea, Girl Online is about an english teenager named Penny who has never really felt comfortable around her classmates as she lives in fear of embarrassing herself - which always seems to happen as our protagonist is very clumsy (making her all the more relatable). All Penny wants is to be able to express herself and her daily thoughts about a world that doesn't understand her, to people that do. So to do this she anonymously starts a blog under the name Girl Online.

Penny has been successfully blogging for a year and the only one who knows this, is Elliot. Elliot is her best friend and next door neighbour (who I adored) and other than being totally quirky, smart, supportive and lovely, is also dealing with problems of his own. He is always round Penny's because his parents haven't come to terms with his sexuality yet, which is somewhat dealt with throughout the story.

Blogging becomes a safe haven for Penny, it makes her feel a little less alone. So Penny blogs about her gripes, about friendship, about growing up, her fears, and love. Each time feeling a little more relaxed once hitting publish.

As some of you may have seen in recent posts, I lately haven't been feeling blogging or reading. So when Penny talked about how helpful and therapeutic blogging was for her, if definitely rang a bell. It made me think of my own feelings towards blogging and why I started. So thank you Girl Online for being really helpful and re-enforcing some blogging love!

Girl Online was a really cheery and easy read, much lighter than your average rovel despite subtly dealing with more mature themes. The writing I felt was very simplistic making it easy to remember that it was Zoe’s first novel - which was good as it didn’t demand too much attention but I couldn't help long for bigger and better sentences. I want to call it amateur but I feel as though that would be insulting especially as I want to commend Zoe on a much better than expected debut.

The romance was really sweet and personal. I liked that Noah brought confidence within Penny and that they both helped each other deal with stuff. I wouldn't call it insta love but I'll warn you - the romance is fast paced. It's not exactly love at first sight but they do dance around the L word very very early on in their relationship, which was quite unrealistic.

There were some events and complications in the book that I was not expecting which benefited the novel as it was sometimes too perky. Overall this book was not perfect but I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it. Also saything that though, I’m totally shocked after reading this and other various articles to find out Girl Online beat J.K rowling first week sale records. I don’t know how to feel about that because it’s not at all of the same standard as any Harry Potter book and doesn’t come close. Not to bag it out but c’mon this is J.K Rowling.

I know all of the many Zoella fans are going to go racing out to buy this book and then raving about it, (as proved through sales) but I would recommend this to younger YA fans looking for a fun, cheery and funny read. Despite having a few things that irked me, I’m going to give this a ⅘ stars.


  1. Hey Sunny! This is a fantastic review. The fact that the protagonist is a blogger really sparks my interest. There's that whole connection thing, relating, going on, you know.
    I agree with you on the whole celebrities being offered deals issue just because they're known when there are definitely lots of people who are probably ten times better at writing struggling to get published.
    I'm really excited to read it, now that you gave it 4 stars. I wasn't too bothered before, just assuming it wouldn't be great (how silly of me).
    Marian ^_^

  2. Yay, so great to see you write a review and get through a book that resonated with you Sunny! I can totally understand why you would be a little envious, especially as a budding author who would love to be offered a publishing deal. I hope one day you do reach that Sunny. It sounds like a lovely, light fluffy contemporary and I love how it's about blogging too. Great review lovely!

  3. Great review, as always! I've been interested in reading Girl Online ever since I first saw it on Goodreads, as it deals with panic attacks and the main character is a blogger, which I can totally relate to! I also appreciate that it's a light read as a lot of books lately are very heavy and "gritty", so it will be nice reading a more "fluffy" novel. :)

  4. I'm glad you enjoyed this one so much. It seems like a sweet read but I'm not in a rush to read it. I know there's a lot of controversy surrounding the book now because it's been revealed it was written by a ghost writer. But, as you've said, just because she's a vlogger it doesn't mean she's a writer, she needed help and that's not a bad thing. It's easy to see why the publisher gave her a book deal when she sold so many books so quickly. This seems like a book a lot of bloggers could relate to :)


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