Genre: Young adult, contemporary
Publisher: Atria / Keywords Press
Publication Date: November 25, 2014
352 pages, hardcover
Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.
Penny is a blogger, writing online anonymously as GirlOnline. She blogs about her friends, drama, boys, her family, and her horrible anxiety. After a horribly embarrassing fall, her family is lucky enough to go to New York for the holidays, where she meets Noah, who has some secrets of his own.
Alright, so everyone is kind of freaking out because Girl Online MIGHT have been ghostwritten. I honestly don’t really care either way, but I’m going to mention it here for a sec. First, who reads a book written by a celebrity who has little to no writing experience and expects it to be AMAZING? Hopefully, no one. Second, do you guys know how many books by celebrities are at least partly ghostwritten? A lot of them are. So, basically, calm your tits are read the book if it sounds like something you’d like and don’t if it doesn’t. Geez.
As for the book, it’s probably what you’d expect from the synopsis. It’s fluffy and cheesy and predictable. It’s full of clichés in characters and plot. The events in the story are somewhat implausible and unlikely.
BUT it is actually pretty enjoyable. The story, while predictable and unlikely, is adorable and fun to read. Penny is a klutz, clumsy to the extreme, awkward, and a little weird. When she meets Noah (cliché gorgeous love interest), she is able to accept herself and begin to overcome her anxiety. There’s a fight with her best friend and a horrible bully/girl best friend. It has everything you want in a fluffy contemporary, and I don’t know about you, but I like that sometimes. Fair warning though: the “twist” was so predictable as to make it a little annoying.
Now for the deep part to the book: the anxiety and panic attacks. Zoe actually suffers from anxiety, so the parts of the book in which Penny is dealing with it or having a panic attack felt real. I, too, have anxiety – not quite to the level of Zoe or Penny but I have panic attacks as well – and I could relate to this pretty well. The way the panic attacks are described was just right, just how a panic attack feels. So even if a ghost writer wrote this, you can tell Zoe had a say. You can tell that she described it.
The bottom line: Okay, I did not go into Girl Online expecting to like it as much as I did. I thought it might be poorly written or cheesy, but I thought the synopsis sounded interesting. I’m glad I checked it out. I enjoyed it. It is definitely predictable and clichéd in parts, which was annoying [but you should keep in mind it was written for teens and young girls], but it was cute and fun and dealt with things like anxiety, family issues, cyber bullying, homosexuality, all things teens need books to be about.
Rating: 6.5 – between Good, but not great and Pretty good