Penny has a secret. Under the alias Girl Online, Penny blogs her hidden feelings about friendship, boys, her crazy family, and the panic attacks that have begun to take over her life. When things go from bad to worse, her family whisks her away to New York, where she meets Noah: a gorgeous, guitar-strumming American. Suddenly Penny is falling in love – and capturing every moment of it on her blog. But Noah has a secret, too, one that threatens to ruin Penny’s cover – and her closest friendship – forever.
To be honest, when I first heard this was coming out last year, I didn’t want to read it because I thought it’d be really bad. Not because there was claims that it was ghostwritten – it was just that I didn’t really believe that the quality of the writing would be great. I actually did pick this up late last year and instantly I didn’t like it. For me, it was the writing at first. So when I picked it up again the other day I was pleasantly surprised at how much I ended up enjoying it because I didn’t expect to. Maybe because I’m in the middle of Wuthering Heights which is quite dense, but nevertheless, that’s not the point.
So Girl Online was a very enjoyable read; however, there were quite a few things I found extremely unrealistic within the story. For starters, not very much happens plot wise in the first 200 pages or so of the book, and in the last 50 pages, everything suddenly occurs and it seems rather unbelievable. The plot was also quite predictable, and some phrases used were also clichéd and easy to guess, but it was a cute story that was really easy to follow. There’s a lot of relevant themes to today’s society; the two standing out to me most being mental illness and cyber bullying.
Our main character, Penny suffers from anxiety/panic attacks. I’m not exactly sure how credible the way she deals with the panic attacks is since I don’t really know much about the topic, but the way it dealt with the mental illness was very respectable. The theme of online negativity is also something I think was portrayed rather well. I thought Penny was overreacting when she receives all the negative comments, because the way she reacts is quite childish. Her reaction to a few other events in the book were also quite childish. Penny is a sixteen year old, but the way the story is written, it sounds like she’s twelve.
The relationships in this book however, were very fairytale-esque, and by that I mean that they were extremely cliché and unrealistic. There wasn’t really a love-triangle, but there was love a first sight. I’d honestly take an extremely chessy love-triangle over that, honestly. I found myself almost pulling my hair out because it was so frustrating to read about that. Although the romance was cute, I had a hard time believe it was true because it moved too quickly, was extremely cheesy and just cringeworthy. To me, most of the book just ended up being centred on the romance aspect of the novel, and not everything going on around it.
The actual prose is very straightforward and simplistic. The narrator’s voice was childish at times, and there were also times when things was just told when it could’ve been shown (you know, show don’t tell) and that was a huge let down because it reduces the sophistication of the writing. The straightforward writing does make the plot quite easy to follow, so I would suggest it was for younger readers (probably around 12-13).The blog posts weren’t really that necessary as they didn’t really move the plot forward, but they were a nice touch.
If you’re in the mood for something light, fluffy and easy to read, I would suggest you read Girl Online. However, I did feel like this book would be suited to younger audiences, as I found it extremely unrealistic at times, but younger readers may enjoy it more.