Zoe Sugg is an inspiration of mine for many reasons, one being her love of books and releasing her own series.
Girl Online is a trilogy, with 2 sequels following, tilted Girl Online: On Tour, and Girl Online: Going Solo. I obviously can’t talk too much about the plot as it develops, without ruining the whole series, so I’ll just give you a synopsis of the first book.
This is the story of Penny, who runs a blog under the secret name ‘GirlOnline’. Penny is a sufferer of anxiety and panic attacks, and uses her online platform as a place of comfort and support. Due to her mother’s wedding planning business, Penny and her family travel to New York, where she meets a gorgeous musician called Noah.
I wish I wrote about the books when I originally read them, the first one being published in 2014, as the story isn’t as fresh. Yet, I have just finished reading the third book in the series, so I’m writing a post about the trilogy overall.
Firstly, I did feel that this book was aimed at a younger YA audience, in both writing style and story line, maybe high school age. However, I don’t mean that in a negative way. I’m 23 years old, and young adult books are my favourite style. Sometimes I prefer to read books that are less complicated, and I can just enjoy as a nice story. Despite it being a simpler read, the series still contained twists in the plot, important story lines, and was overall a engaging read.
I soon became very invested in this story, and struggled to put it down. I found mysef wanting to stop my everyday activities just to find out what happens next, and read the first one in just over a week I think. In fact, I think Zoe did this quite well. I remember the first book finished in a way that made me so frustrated (in a good way) because I needed to know what was going to happen next! For me, that makes a really good book.
Something that I really loved about the books, is that it tapped into a younger version of myself. I felt the emotions that Penny would have been feeling about Noah. I got excited from the adventures they went on, and got warm and fuzzy when Noah did something sweet for her. Not gonna lie, I would totally date Noah 😛 It’s definitely the kind of love story I would have dreamed of happening to me as a teenager!
Parts of the story even made me smile or laugh out loud.
Additionally, the mental health aspect of the books was something I could easily relate to. I think it was really great that Zoe incorporated something that she suffers with in her everyday life, as a part of her fictional work, and showed ways in which Penny would learn to deal with her anxiety and panic attacks.
This was one of the first novels I read that spoke about mental health, such as anxiety, and it was comforting to know that the way I felt was normal, even if that was through a fictional character.
Other themes that I thought we really good in the series, is how it touched on content that most teenagers would be experiencing – family drama, friendship, and school.
I also appreciate how Zoe portrayed the ‘internet generation’. How a lot of the older generation may look at young people always being anti-social on their phones and computers, when there is so much more to it. We can use the internet to socialize, share our thoughts and feelings, and learn.
Lastly, the importance of doing things for yourself. Throughout the series, Penny learns to put herself first and focus on her own happiness. Of course, you should be supportive of your friends and family, but you need to remember that your health and happiness is important too.
I think the main thin that helped make everything better was choosing to work on me before anyone else. How can you be truly happy with someone else when you aren’t in the best place you can be for you?
Penny – Girl Online: Going Solo
I also want to mention how this series was part of the motivation to try writing again. All my life I have loved reading, and always felt a bit lost if I didn’t have a book on the go. One of my dreams was also to publish my own book one day, and I was often writing my own stories at home or for class. After knowing that Zoe had the same dream, and seeing her work hard and achieve it, I regained that goal.
Zoe shows such a passion for reading and writing, and I think it’s really great that as such a big online personality, she is advocating how great reading is! She even has her own Book Club through WH Smith, which you can find out more about here and here.
As such a big fan of her, I was also very happy when I got a singed edition Girl Online: Going Solo. You can read about the little fangirl moment I had in the bookshop here!
I really enjoyed reading the Girl Online series. I do wish it was around when I was a teenager, as I think it would have been really helpful for me, however I appreciate it just as much. Overall, would give each book a rating of:
Girl Online ★★★★
Girl Online: On Tour ★★★
Girl Online: Going Solo ★★★☆
Have you read this series? What were your thoughts of it? Let me know in the comments, I would love to chat with other fans of the books 🙂
I actually started writing about my views on the controversy surrounding this book being written by a YouTuber and that Zoe got help writing it, but decided to delete it. Everyone is going to have a different opinion, and at the end of the day that stuff really didn’t bother me. I enjoyed the book, and that’s what my post is about 🙂