My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Penny, aka GirlOnline, blogs about her life and the panic attacks she suffers from. Following a chain of circumstance, she ends up spending Christmas in New York with her family. Whilst there she meets Noah and the two of them fall in love. Penny blogs, Penny falls in love. But Noah’s got a secret …
I’ve kept an eye on Girl Online ever since it was published and the saga around it’s authorship became public. Whilst I’m not interested in a review about the nature of ghostwriters nor parsing the nature of this text for traces of that experience, I am interested in what this book is and I’m interested in why, always, I see it on reservation for people. It’s being read. Immensely. And I can’t deny the relevance of that nor of Zoella herself.
So. Girl Online is rather lovely. It’s not Dostoyevksy (nor should it be and if you think it should be then we need to talk) but what it is is a novel which wears its heart on its sleeve in a rather wonderful manner. I genuinely enjoyed it.
Where it shines is in its relateability. It read a little younger than I thought it would, but there’s something rather delightful in how overt and emphatic it is. It doesn’t hold back from itself nor the tone of that; it’s very intense, very lovely and delightful. There’s a hint of innocence about it that’s also oddly intriguing; it’s not a book that dwells in the darkness. Conflict is introduced, resolved, and the happy ending is reached. There is space in the world for books like this, and this is so emphatically determined to reach a happy ending that I can’t deny it, I can’t.
Girl Online is a genuine, intense, innocent (I wonder if it’s almost naive at points?), sugary and rather lovely in a very particular sort of way book. It’s hard to resist. And whether I credit that to Curham, Sugg, or both, I don’t know. What I do know is that this book surprised me. And I like that, I like that a lot.