Penny is a schoolgirl in the seaside town of Brighton, friends with 'weirdo' Elliot, Megan and Ollie. She is subject to a fair few embarrassing incidents involving her school, but the one thing she doesn't want to be discovered is her online identity. Girl Online, her blog, her one true place where she feels herself. Only Elliot knows about it. Then her parents, who run a wedding planning shop in Brighton, are contacted by two wealthy clients, who want to put on a Downton Abbey themed wedding at the Waldorf Astoria in New York. That trip to New York she takes will change her life. Her world. Her online world. Because she may not stay Girl Online much longer.
Published on November 25th last year, Girl online went on to break numerous sales records, and has proven to be a very successful book. It's a fiction book, aimed at 12 to 16 year olds, and it is the first in a two book deal by penguin. However, despite its successes, Girl Online has also seen countless criticisms; be it about how anxiety is portrayed, ghost writing, or Zoe Sugg herself. I'm here to tell you what I think about Zoella, and the ghost writing 'scandal' and I think we're just going to chat a bit about Girl online the book itself, because I'm sure I'm not the only one who loves it!
Shortly after the book's release, Zoella, who has over 2 million followers on twitter, declared that "It's such an amazing feeling/ I'm so grateful to everyone who has bought a copy of Girl Online. I love that so many of my viewers are enjoying the book! This year has been so exciting and this for sure is the icing on the cake"
I have been following Zoe for about two years now, and have mentioned her a few times in my previous posts. Personally I think it's amazing that she is able to release a book under her name, and it's been really lovely to be able to witness her growth into the 'celebrity' status she has today.
Girl Online, is exactly the type of novel that I enjoy reading; fluffy, romantic, and relatable. So without taking into consideration other factors that come in around the book, I would just like to point out that I like this book. I think that it is well written, and portrays the daily struggles that girls all over the world face, even though the storyline is somewhat unrealistic.
However, there is one criticism which I strongly agree with; 'Girl Online' does not portray anxiety as the mental illness that it is. In the novel the main character has anxiety, and quite frankly this novel romanticises the issue and illustrates it as some kind of cute, shyness that occasionally makes people cry. A review by the guardian puts it this way; "I hate the fact that the mental illnesses in this book are glossed over. Sugar coated to fit the stereotypes, and made to seem logical. They aren't logical. That's the point"
The ghost writing scandal only adds more to the heap of criticisms that Sugg has faced over Girl Online. In case you don't know, when you write a book and you finish it, the book then goes to an editor. Editors edit books. They make them better, they make them coherent, they make the plot make sense, they clear up any little inconsistencies... A ghost writer on the other hand, is a professional writer who gets paid to write books but not take credit for them. That sounds a bit strange, I know what you're thinking, however they sign contracts that essentially say that you're getting paid to write this book, you don't seek credit.
So lots of people had suspected that Zoe's book was ghost written simply because the turnaround for a 300 page novel was so fast; it appeared on shelves so quickly, and she documents a lot of her life, she had been very busy over the summer with her beauty product range, and so people realised that there is no way she had time to write a book, because writing books takes a really long time, especially when you haven't done it before! But now that it's been confirmed that the book was ghost written or at least partially ghost written, people cannot stop talking about it.
Soon the second instalment of this two part deal will be added, which you can read more about here, but for now; here's a few 10 word reviews from those of you on twitter who have read the book!
- "It's a relatable book even if you don't have anxiety" -@BeccaBoo199xoxo
- "Cute, creative, full of feelings and inspiration. BEST NOVEL EVER" -@cliffordbleach_
- "I think Girl Online is a great book for teens" -anonymous
- "Especially good for kids with anxiety and going through alot" -@ZalfieBasically
- "Cheery, cute, but unrealistic, and doesn't portray anxiety very well" -anonymous