I recently went on a road trip which required ten hours of travel in total and as a way of relieving any boredom on board my coach I bought a few books to keep me company, one of them being Girl Online by Zoe Sugg a.k.a Zoella.

Considering the book was only on sale in November, it became the fastest selling book of 2014. Written by YouTube sensation Zoella, although the true identity of the author has been debated, the novel seems to be part biographical, with the protagonist being a blogger, like Zoe, and suffers from panic attacks which Zoe is often very open about.

Without giving away any spoilers the narrative centers on the life of Penny, a young girl who blogs under the alias, Girl Online. She has a bitch of a best friend and a neighbour who she shares a secret knock with. Penny, when faced with cute boys like Ollie, often faces embarrassment moments. When her mum; a wedding planner, gets the job of a lifetime to work in New York over Christmas, an exciting incident begins for Penny when she meets Noah, a cool, guitar playing Brooklyn Boy. However, Noah isn’t all that he seems to be and for a brief period, Penny is left wishing she had never met him.


One thing I really enjoyed about Girl Online is the fact that anxiety and panic attacks are included in the narrative. The book is aimed at a relatively young audience and I think, as someone who’s suffered from these things in the past, it’s great to see that a book as mainstream as this normalises anxiety and its effects to a readership that may include teenagers who suffer from anxiety and feel a little out of place in the world. Another thing I liked about the narrative is the way it weaves in current and on trend things such as The Fault in Our Stars and the abilities of social media, which I think positively comments on the society we live in.

Now to the negative. This isn’t going to be some massive rant about how much I hated the book, far from it actually. Whilst I didn’t get bored with the narrative and related to the character of Penny at times, I felt that the book was probably aimed at a younger audience, which I found a little odd given that most of my friends my age and older are fans of Zoe. I think it might be to do with the creative writing side of my degree but at times I felt like there were certain phrases that just didn’t need to be there, and I distinctly remember the word ‘dejected’ being used twice. The only other thing that I was less heart eye emoji over is the end of the book. For the most part I had been rooting for Penny, and I don’t want to give the end of the story away but I just didn’t want what happened to happen!

Overall I thought the book was enjoyable and to be honest, it could probably turn into a series for Zoe, I guess it could even work as a TV series like Gossip Girl for a new generation. I would recommend reading Girl Online, and seeing what your opinions of the book are.

Aimée Costa


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