Thursday, March 12, 2015

Girl Online | Zoe Sugg

I had no idea GirlOnline would take off the way it has - I can't believe I now have 5432 followers, thanks so much! - and the thought of opening up to you all about this is terrifying, but here goes...

Penny has a secret.

Under the alias GirlOnline, she blogs about school dramas, boys, her mad, whirlwind family - and the panic attacks she's suffered from lately. When things go from bad to worse, her family whisks her away to New York, where she meets the gorgeous, guitar-strumming Noah. 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.

Before I even begin to discuss the book and how conflicted I am, I want to spend a little time talking about the author and the "scandal" that surrounded this book. Apparently, Zoella, YouTube beauty vlogger, decided to write and publish a book, a YA fiction book at that, and with over a million subscribers, she did just that. Girl Online has had record sales in its first week, comparable to those of Harry Potter, but of course there's a catch. This book was ghostwritten, meaning that while Zoe might have had the idea, there was a person (or a group of people) behind the scenes actually putting the words together. To be quite honest, I didn't know ghost writing was a frequented route for many authors, but it only makes sense when so many celebrities have their own book. I admit, I was hesitant to read her book. The plot seemed uninteresting, and the fact that Zoe didn't write the book herself yet took credit anyways is oddly unnerving. 

I will also admit that after reading this book I am pleasantly surprised. I think this would make a good coming of age book for girls between the ages of 11 and 15, anyone younger may not understand the "coming of age" aspect of this book, and anyone older might see through the plot and characters, finding the glaring gaps between the story and reality.

Even as I type this, I'm still conflicted about how I feel. Whilst I read it, emotions of giddiness and adorableness bubbled up inside me, due to the romance BUT the sharp deviations from reality really brought the book down for me. Do I recommend it? I have no idea. It's definitely not a bad read, but the lack of realism may be a turn off for some people.

Spoiler-Filled Discussion

Plus Points: 

1. The Cute Romance 
There is not one person who can say that Noah wasn't the perfect boyfriend. Ok, disregard the part where he lied about being a famous rock star. 

Reasons why Noah was perfect: 
  • He is hot 
  • He's a musician and wrote Penny a song
  • He built Penny a fort 
  • He does dumb things so Penny doesn't feel insecure about her clumsiness
  • He has an adorable little sister 
  • He took Penny on a picnic 
The fact that Noah doesn't actually exist, at least not in my world, is quite upsetting. 

Minus Points: 

1. The Lack of Realism 

Penny's blog went from 0 to over 5000 subscribers in under a year. That's not an easy feat to accomplish. People don't just stumble upon your blog. The Internet is a big place. Take if from someone who has been blogging for over a year. 

The romance, while cute, took a turn for the worst when words like "soulmate" and "love" became frequent. For me, "soulmate" is such a turn off. As soon as any character even begins to think that word, the relationship becomes unbearable. And in this particular case, it was insta-love. A week into knowing each other they were spouting all sorts of nonsense like "I like you so much it might be love."

Let me know if this is just my family, but if my family and I went to a different country for the holidays, there is no way in hell I would be allowed out with a stranger through the streets. Did we also seem to forget that unless you have roaming data, cellphones aren't international? That doesn't really seem to fit in with the fact that Penny's family isn't exactly wealthy. 

Also, what magical stroke of luck just allowed Penny and her family to stay in New York for an extra week all expenses paid? I'm not sure if Zoe is aware of this, but Americans aren't made of money. And OF COURSE they would stay with Noah, because things always work out this perfectly in real life, don't they?

Was anyone else slightly disturbed that Penny was 15 and Noah was 18. I find this slightly disconcerting. But then of course guess who also has a three year gap between them, yup no other than Zoella and Alfie... thought this was supposed to be a fictitious book?

2. Lack of Blog Posts 

Tell me if I'm wrong, but this book is about a girl with a blog right? Throughout the entire story we see maybe four of her blog posts. With over 5000 followers, you would think she would blog more, but nope. The story was mostly a love story with a side plot of a blog that exploded near the end of the book.

3. Elliot

Elliot was great for the first 50 pages of the book, and then he became the jealous boyfriend that nobody likes. The one that sulks the second he is not completely "in the loop". I don't completely blame him, but he was just way too insecure for my taste. 

4. Megan and Ollie 

Need I say more?

I know I probably sound ridiculously harsh, but false expectations of reality in movies and books are one of my biggest pet peeve. If everything was supposed to work out perfectly then life would be boring, so conflict is good. 

Since I'm done (mostly) with my commentary on the book, there are few things I want to give my opinion on. 

This whole blogging business. I really like the idea of using some place to write about people and things that bother you, but while I like venting about annoying people as much as the next person, I, personally, try to keep my personal life off of the Internet. I don't know whose reading this, and there's no need for me to spread my negativity about a certain person or thing on the Internet. While ideally it's a great idea, and I've always wanted to implement it on this blog, I know that some of the people I would talk about frequently read my blog and having people know how I actually feel is something I don't want. I'm a stuffer. If I can't feel it, it's not there. That being said, I'm actually going to be trying some new things on this blog. For example, one of the classes I'm taking is ethics and there are some really interesting arguments and discussions I want to be able to express. 

My second opinion relates to the entire "coming of age" aspect of this book. While Penny did grow a lot during this book, my main problem was that she changed because of a boy. She got more confident because Noah told her she was beautiful and sweet and kind. And this irks me. I want to make one thing very VERY clear. You DO NOT need a boy to become a confident person, in fact you really don't need anyone, all you need is yourself. People do stupid things all the time, and in fact no one is judging you as hard as you're judging yourself. I know this is easier said than done, but if someone isn't willing to let go one embarrassing thing you've done, then they aren't worth your time, much like Megan in this book. Why keep people in your life if all they do is bring you down? 

If anyone has made it this far, share with me some of the life lessons you've picked up along the way in the comments below!