Penny turns to blogging to say the things she’s too afraid to say in person. Her thoughts about boys, friendship and family is all documented online.
But when her family goes to New York for a week, she meets a boy who changes things. He threatens her anonymous online status but she only finds out when it is too late. Though little does she know he has secrets of his own.
Can her blog followers help her deal with reality? Or is the online world exactly that, only online?
It took me a while to get into the book but once I got into Girl Online I was consumed by the story and the characters.
Storyline: I enjoyed the way the story is set up. Instead of explaining characters the reader sees how Penny and her friends interact and that’s how get to know the characters, best friends and the flaky friendships alike. As the reader you witness events through Penny’s perspective, knowing where she’s coming from and then seeing how others perceive and treat her. The story carefully works through how friendships fall apart and shows the poison of jealous friends. Penny is a blogger, and all her blog posts, comments and text messages are included in the novel. LOVE! The alternation between standard narration and blog post was a refreshing reading experience. (I’m thinking I should start a #hashtag for my love of unconventional story narration #TeamUnconventionalNarration maybe? Thoughts?)
Writing: The writing is wishy washy. The book employs various techniques. The one is dialogue between friends. Without having to tell the reader, just through the dialogue, the reader is able to see how shady some of Penny’s friends are, the catty and snide ones. The book doesn’t have to tell the reader, it shows. The next is narration. At one point Penny is talking to Bella, the younger sister of Penny’s love interest. Bella gives Penny some inside information about how her brother acts around Penny and how Bella thinks he might love Penny. This sounds simple enough, but it makes for a more interesting read that Penny finding out this information through eavesdropping (cliché) or having the love interest tell her himself (cliché). I also really love the descriptions. I always silently applaud writers when they avoid similes. Similes get the job done but I appreciate other forms of descriptions, putting in the effort to describe something without being verbose. Online Girl puts in the work.
“The huge pendulum seems to be tick-tocking in time with my pounding heart”
The downer was that some parts of the novel read as if they were written by someone else completely. Apparently Girl Online was ghost written, so maybe that could be the reason. Some parts having been written by the ghost writer and others by Zoe.
Characters: I both loved and hated Penny. But then I remembered that she’s a young teenager so I forgave her. She has so many cringe worthy moments is hardly believable. But then she finds a way to overcome it, or to move past what has happened and you can’t help but admire her.
“Sometimes you have to face up to your fears to realize that they aren’t actually real.”
Relatability: There were large sections that were relatable, and then there were large sections that were unrelatable. I cannot relate to someone who falls over her shoe lace, on stage, in front of a room of 300 people. Shouldn’t you always check your feet before you move? It’s one of my weird fetishes. But I can relate to jealous friends and catty behaviour.
“But then I wandered if sometimes our friendships are a bit like clothes and when they start feeling uncomfortable it’s not because we’ve done anything wrong. It just means that we’ve outgrown them.”
Girl Online is one of those books that disappoints in one area, but then makes up for it in another area. So it’s kinda hard to hate, even though I want to. #MixedEmotions
The ending: I fell completely into the story. I was reading, came to the end of one chapter, turned the page and was met with the heading “Acknowledgements”. WHAT? I threw my book across my room, then had to get up, bend down to pick it up just to double check that I saw right. Before I knew it the book was over and I wanted more.
Will I read the second book? mmm, not too sure. Maybe if it’s a gift.
I would recommend Girl Online to anyone looking for a reminder that it’s okay to be clumsy. One day, some day, someone is going to find your awkward qualities, your greatest feature. But if you’re in your 20’s and rely on relatibitly to make a book a good read then rather put this one down, or gift it to your younger sister.
“I’ve found that life’s a whole lot better if you get a little crazy sometimes.”