"Girl Online": My Review!
For those of you who aren't avid followers of Youtube or the news in fact, Zoe Sugg or Zoella is a 24 year old Youtube sensation who has just launched her first book!! I could tell you more but it's nothing that you can't find from Googling it or on Wikipedia - a super reliable source!
I almost didn't buy this book, but it's probably one of the best £5 I've ever spent, and I haven't even finished it yet! I was about to say: 'warning, there are some personal things mentioned in this so if you're just looking for a standard review: go elsewhere' but it's my blog and it's my thoughts! So grin and bare it (or don't) but just like the character, I'm being completely myself on here, even if in the real world I'm only just beginning to be. Well, really being me, not withholding anything like I did for so long!
To begin with, I have to say that even though the protagonist is a fifteen year old and I’m a couple of years older than her, the protagonist is super relatable! She may in school and not gone through the stress of final GCSEs, A Levels and university, but I actually feel like the characters mindset was mine at the age and if I’m honest, sometimes now too!
Although I most certainly can’t relate to the horrors of being in a car accident, I would say that I was – and still am on several occasions – an anxious person, and some of the characters thoughts are exactly how I used to think and occasionally still do (in moments of self-doubt). Putting myself down for the smallest of things and beating myself up internally, making a big deal out of a small deal and such like. Even the character says, it makes me so happy I’m not the only one out there with these thoughts, and if I’m honest, it’s made me feel the same! I’m not the only one who put herself down as a teen.
I have to say, I was a scared teen. I’d just moved back from Spain in a sticky period of teenhood along with my mum and stepdad splitting up. Culture shock aside it wasn’t easy mentally for me to make that adjustment. I know I gave my mum grief but of course I couldn’t really ever explain myself! You probably could’ve put it down to hormones and mood swings. But these things do have a knock on your identity. I had a lot of fear for a good five years and I disguised it as anger.
Along with other things like having time on my year abroad to finally process my feelings, I think Girl Online has reassured me in myself and what I can and want to achieve. Again, even though the book is based around a fifteen year old girl and there are some bits I think of as being a bit too good to be true, it has made me laugh out loud and the message behind it is sterling! There’s no other word for it!
It feels great to finally read about a protagonist that actually has problems! But relatable ones like social anxiety, rather than the standard “ugh why did I say that, I sound so silly #socialdisaster” and “what do I wear?! #firstworldproblems.” Ok sure, they are sort of problems in their own way, but definitely not on such a scale that is detrimental to a plot – or in a real person’s case their health. I feel like I’m not explaining it properly but I wouldn’t be surprised if this book was unique to every reader’s case. And especially after the week I’ve had. It’s been an eye-opening one: in a very very good way! And (I can hear my primary school English teachers cry in my head every time I start a sentence with ‘and’) even the things Penny – the protagonist – writes about on her blog like outgrowing people and situations, have related to things in my life at the moment! Not saying that I’ve had major fall outs or anything, no no! Just that I’ve begun seeing who is really there for me as a real friend, who I want to make an effort for, and who is worth my time. All in positive ways!
It’s the same with boys and crushes. I almost started explaining but then stopped: back to the topic Talb! Maybe I could make this into another post… Dear Diary style, haha…!
What’s funny is that I definitely wouldn’t have thought to buy this book if I hadn’t been watching her videos for a year and a half (when she was still on about 500,000 Youtube subscribers) and hadn’t watched her video when she went to go see a batch of her books being printed. It’s been amazing and so inspiring to watch someone grow like she has! Watching her video quality improve, her confidence boost and then all the opportunities it’s opened up for her. And all at the age of 24! Her whole journey gives me hope that I could start from where she did and grow within a short space of time too if I wanted. I’m not saying that I want her life exactly, but I am a fan of writing and always have been. I went home this weekend and found a bunch of notebooks with stories I'd written when I was about seven along with with diaries I'd written on a couple of trips I went on! Stay tuned in the next couple of weeks!
I would be over the moon if I could get a full time job that allowed me to blog, vlog and take photos! So it’s amazing to know that it is possible and there are opportunities available! :D
Back to Zoe’s book, I haven’t even finished it yet but for a final year university student with lots to do, it’s only taken me about three days to get two thirds of the way through: what does THAT tell you! It’s a real page turner and super easy to read! Before I knew it, I was at Chapter 29, which you’ll know if you watch Zoe’s vlogs, is the chapter Alfie Deyes mentions. I was on the train back to uni at the time and it made me smile because it’s like you’re sharing a moment with these Youtubers! Although I haven’t taken a picture of me sniffing it like Alfie said…
In reading this book I felt like I was supporting a friend or one of my sisters. It wasn’t the usual reading a creation of a celebrity, well-known and/or long dead classic writer. Zoe has been through the anxiety so she can get right in and give you the not so pleasant details and finally it feels relatable! She knows what she’s talking about so we know her writing is legit!
At first I found it confusing trying to picture an auburn-haired, Brighton-born school girl telling this story because it’s written in such a way that you can imagine Zoe talking about it in one of her main channel Youtube videos. I know she said it wasn’t based on her experience but there is a part of you that thinks of her the further you read on. Again, there’s something comforting in the character the further you read on because she doesn’t miraculously get over her panic attacks. It’s not like other teen girl fiction where the character is magically ‘cured’ of her fears. Instead she – like a normal every day human being – learns to accept it, becomes in control of it, and I know I feel comforted!
Even the man crush in the book is great! I must admit when Noah was first introduced I was preparing myself to get annoyed at him. The ‘effortlessly cool and confident man’ cliché is becoming so tiring! It’s just not realistic! I can’t think of one guy I know who doesn’t have some kind of insecurity no matter how well he tries to carry it off! Not that the protagonist shouldn’t have a dashing beau, but it did make me super happy when I read on that he also got flustered in her presence and thought of her all the time J
This is probably going to sound weird too, but I’m so happy her best friend is gay and not in an over the top fabulous, above everyone way. I’d say he reminds me of one of my closest friends, minus the vintage clothing obsession. The character still wants the goss but is still a human being with real feelings at the core (ie. when he has to go home early from New York).
Before this becomes an essay, I’ll finish here. So far it has been a wonderful read and I’d thoroughly recommend to all Zoella fans!! Even the plot twist is relatable and I cannot wait to find out how it ends. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was one tale I end up reading a couple times more, even just for a pick me up.
It’s a hardback as well which is what gave me that final urge to buy it! There’s something nice about buying a hardback. You treat it with care and it looks way better on the bookshelf.
Anyway: definitely recommend this book for some inspiration, no matter what age you are! I’ve now got another hour of train journey and a novel to finish.
In the words of Penny:
Girl Online, going offline xxx.