Published: 25th November 2014
Penny has a secret.
Under the alias Girl Online, Penny blogs her hidden feelings about friendship, boys, high school drama, her crazy family, and the panic attacks that have begun to take over her life. When things go from bad to worse, her family whisks her away to New York, where she meets Noah, a gorgeous, guitar-strumming American. 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.
Thank you to Penguin for kindly sending me a review copy – I read the book during December but as I was taking part in #Blogmas (all links in my Review page), I have waited until now to share my review.
Upon reading Zoe’s thank you’s after finishing the book, I noticed a very familiar name – Siobhan Curham. Siobhan is a Young Adult author and I absolutely adore her Shipwrecked series. Little did I know that Siobhan actually wrote Girl Online – I don’t know how much of it she wrote, but yes, the rumours are true – it is in fact ghost written. Cue the gasps from Zoe’s seven million subscribers: me being one of them! With that being said, I had already read the book and despite a lot of talk on Twitter, I am writing this review as if Zoe has written every single word.
The plot begins a year ago with the main character Penny starting her blog. Despite the setting begin in Brighton, Zoe has americanised quite a lot of the sentences – ‘realize’ being one of them. Whether this is a Word Document mistake, it ought to have been noticed. Penny and Zoe are basically the same person but she’s kind of right in what she’s done; writers tend to write what they know, but writing about yourself? It’s basically a Fictional autobiography…
When it came to the topic of anxiety, I was very interested in how Zoe would portray the subject. To my surprise, it was written well – not the best but the basics were there. The panic attacks seemed to be a couple of sentences long and then they were over. What about the people in the real world who suffer from attacks which last an hour? I don’t think an awful lot of research
was done in regards to writing about anxiety.
When the plot moved to New York City, I was drawn into Penny’s life a lot more. A new setting gave the book a whole new perspective. But what I found to be very annoying was that Penny is a nervous person, she’s the laughing stock of the school and after surviving on an eight hour flight to NYC, she’s randomly running errands with a complete stranger. Let me break this down for you: She’s in a strange city that she’s never been to before with a strange person and to my absolute surprise, her own Mum didn’t seem to care that she’d just gone off with some lad called Noah. It was all a bit too unrealistic and that’s what really spoilt the plot for me.
I really enjoy watching Zoe’s YouTube channels, but I think she ought to stick to vlogging rather than writing books. She claims to have talked about being a HUGE reading fan several times but I’ve only noticed once. Taking the ghost writing malarkey into consideration, I really didn’t enjoy the book one bit and I’m quite disappointed.
Twitter: @ZozeeBo and @SiobhanCurham