Girl Online by Zoe Sugg
Girl Online is about Penny, a sixteen-year-old girl from Brighton living with her wedding planner parents and brother Tom. Penny is the awkward red-headed misfit at her school, with fake friends and an embarrassing video under her belt but when her parents need to fly to New York over Christmas for work, Penny and her next-door-neighbour/best friend go along for the trip and Penny meets a boy who may change her view on a lot of things.
The book was absolutely chock full of cliche's. If you want an original literary masterpiece, this book isn't for you. That isn't a criticism, however, I really enjoyed it. The book is aimed at Zoe's Youtube audience (pre-teens and young teens) so this does need to be kept in mind when reading this book. The content was so appropriate and a lot of teenagers (myself included) have felt like they can never do anything right and that their life is one embarrassing moment after another and possibly even that their friends aren't as genuine as they first thought. Whilst the book did feature a strong case of insta-love (characters who very quickly claim to have feelings for one another and be 'in love') I felt as though it just added to the coziness of the book. The romance was swoon-worthy and it will undoubtedly have teenagers all over the world pining after a romance like this. I can confidently say that if I had read this book when I was entering my teen years, it may have saved me a few heartbreaks and moments where I thought fake-friends should still be treated as friends and that it's acceptable for boys to treat you as anything other than a princess. (It's not, FYI - you should always be treated like a princess, by friends and by love interests!)
The book handled a topic very close to Zoe's heart - panic attacks, and helpfully offered some advice to those who may suffer. Whilst being subtle enough to fit in with the book, I think Zoe added those bits to help and comfort readers who may have panic attacks as well. One of my favourite bits was towards the end where she included (as a blog post by Penny) the words:
"Every time you post something online you have a choice. "
The message is so strong and I'm glad that Zoe included it in the book since I know her, amongst other Youtubers, are struggling with negative comments from their viewers and many have breached this topic in recent videos - Zoe even using those exact same words. It's such a strong message that all internet users need to remember when posting anything, younger ones in particular.
The writing in Girl Online was so clear and descriptive - I really felt as though I was there alongside Penny. The one slightly negative thing I feel after reading this book is that it was set at Christmas time - and with it only being 26th November, it made me want it to be Christmas!
All joking aside, I really enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would and whilst I continue to support Zoe in everything she does, I really do hope she writes more books like this. Overall, I suppose, this book serves as my plea - to everybody who thinks they are too old for books like this, please read it. You will be pleasantly surprised.