Review: Girl Online by Zoe Sugg with Siobhan Curham

Girl Online by Girl OnlineZoe Sugg
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Published By: Penguin
Pages: 352
Format: E-Book
Rating: ★
Where to Find: 
Goodreads | Amazon

‘Girl Online’ and the ghost writing scandal surrounding ‘Zoella’ has been one of the biggest things buzzing around the internet over the last couple of days. I’m not going to write about the ghostwriting in this review, simply the story and what I thought of the delivery, even though the fact Zoe Sugg didn’t write the book ‘entirely by herself’ is an important factor to how I received it.

Instead of giving my rating at the end of the review, I feel the need to preface my opinions. I only gave ‘Girl Online’ 1 star. There have been a lot of mixed reviews about this one, from one star to five stars, but there aren’t very many reasons why these ratings were given. Here are mine.

Firstly, the plot was not what I was expecting. Sugg seems to have followed the idea of ‘write what you know’, creating a fictional persona, rather than a character because of the vast similarities between herself and Penny. However, seeing as Sugg has over 6 million subscribers, I was surprised that this part of her life wasn’t utilised in the novel. It’s called ‘Girl Online’ because it’s meant to be about a girl who blogs anonymously online, but this only acted as a mere subplot. I was expecting Penny’s status as a blogger to play a much bigger role in the storyline, rather than to just be something quirky she did. Also, the panic attacks element to Penny’s character was not explained well, which left me feeling very confused whenever they occurred.

Secondly, the romance was ridiculous. Noah, her love interest, is introduced on the first day Penny is in New York and within about six hours, they’ve fallen in love. They’re sharing secrets they’ve never told anyone else, they’re sharing family traditions with each other, though they’re practically strangers. Noah was 18 and Penny was only 15, yet her parents were more than happy for her to run about a foreign city with a guy she just met. Hmm.

Along with the insta-love romance, everything just seemed a bit too convenient. Of course this rich American couple are going to pay for her family to have Christmas in New York to plan a wedding. Of course Penny’s allowed to bring her best friend with her. It’s so realistic that the Porter family got to stay in the states for another week, so Penny could spend more time with Noah(!).

This book was definitely split into distinct parts. The first part, which lasted for about 30% of the novel, was the most banal reading experience ever. Penny told, and didn’t show, the reader about her life, family and friends. Some horrific video was posted of her stumbling on stage onto the Internet, so she jetted off to New York to escape it all. New York took up the next 50%, which was probably the best bit, which isn’t saying much. Although the romance was so instant and made me roll my eyes too many times, it was still sweet. It had a ‘Just One Day’ feel to it. As soon as Penny returned home from NYC, the last 20% of the novel was devoted to revealing the promised ‘big secret’ of the blurb that Noah was hiding. This was interesting, as I’m sure Sugg has experienced online hate, so you could tell Penny’s feelings about it were genuine.

I did find it incredibly ironic that once the ghostwriting thing was revealed to the world, Sugg did exactly what Penny did and hid from the online world. Although, it seems Penny had more guts than she did, and overtly, with no shame, told the world her side of the story.

As I said, this book received 1 star. The inserted blog posts from ‘Girl Online’ were mediocre, the plot was average and predictable. What I thought would be delivered was not. This was generally a ‘young adult’ novel that only stood out because of the author, not because of the content (and even then, she didn’t write it all herself.) For me, this novel faded into the background and was a disappointing read.

Review: Shipwrecked by Siobhan Curham

Shipwrecked bshipwreckedy Siobhan Curham
Genre: Supernatural, Romance, Contemporary
Published By: Electric Monkey
Pages: 342
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★★
Where to Find: Goodreads | Amazon
This was book I picked up from the library, for no other reason than it was new. I was the first to get it out (always an achievement) so now, I’ll share my opinion.

The book is blurbed to be about a group of dancers that get shipwrecked on a deserted island, which definitely means it isn’t really deserted, and their struggle to be rescued. The fact that they are dancers is almost (or completely) irrelevant to the plot and the books is also described as Gossip Girl meets Lost. Having watcher neither of these shows, I found it super helpful. I can guess that Gossip Girl is about superficial Barbie girls and Lost is about getting stranded on a not-s0-deserted island.

The only character I really liked in the book was Grace, the protagonist, which I guess is lucky since I couldn’t escape her point of view like I can escape Jason’s in the Heroes of Olympus. She was very witty to begin with and I could relate to her on some level, unlike the rest of the characters who seemed very self absorbed.

I don’t really understand how timid girls are always best friends with the party girls in books. It seems completely unrealistic to have a best friend that you have so little in common with, and then get upset when you don’t stay friends forever because you’re so different. That was definitely something that bothered me, and I couldn’t have been more happy when Grace decided to befriend the less annoying people she was shipwrecked with.

On that note, I did like the romance between the Spanish tour guide, Cruz, and Grace. It was very sweet, especially when it turned out Cruz could speak English and they could communicate with something other than sign language. I’m pleased that Grace found her dream boy on the freaky island – at least someone was happy.

Creepy things kept happening to the shipwrecked dancers, that were very anticlimactic in my opinion, but hinted at the existent of a supernatural force (no doubt it was evil.) It certainly managed to scare the two girls Jenna and Cariss, and their lapdogs Todd and Ron into leaving the island with no survival back up plan.

I felt like a lot of what was happening on the island could have been told definitely within 300 pages. All the events felt quite repetitive and drawn out which made the book feel like it was going on forever when, really, the dancers were only stranded for around four days.

There is a sequel, which I will read if my school library gets it, because these aren’t books that I’d invest in myself. Everything started to come together a bit at the end, but had the similar anticlimactic feel as the rest of the book. Overall, I’d give this book 3 stars as it was enjoyable but not really something I’d normally pay attention to. There’s a lot that could be done with the sequel, so I look forward to seeing what happens next….on the island. (There’s a lot of dramatic chapter endings, of course.)