Monday, June 13, 2016

June Book Review: Girl Online

Hey, guys!

This month I'm reviewing two books, Girl Online and Girl Online: On Tour, both by the famous British YouTuber Zoe Sugg, also known as Zoella.

I've been watching Zoella's videos for quite a while, and I finally decided to go ahead and check out her books as e-books from the library and read them while I was on vacation. If you don't know much about Zoe, she's a lifestyle and beauty blogger and YouTuber from Brighton, England. It's certainly not her defining feature, but she also has struggled with anxiety and panic attacks and has been helpful and honest about it in some of her videos. (For more info about her, I'll link to some of her videos below!)

I honestly expected her books to be more autobiography style, especially considering the fact that Zoe is certainly a girl online. Instead, her two books would better be called young adult fiction, although if you've seen her videos, it's fairly clear that she has included many personal experiences in her writing.

The books follow a fifteen-- nearly sixteen-- year old blogger and photographer from Brighton named Penny Porter, also known as GirlOnline, and her best friend, Elliot, and their adventures and misadventures. I won't summarize the second book, Girl Online: On Tour because it would spoil the end of book one, so I'll just say that you should definitely pick it up when you pick up the first.

One of the best things about these books was the very real way they handle some very real problems. Penny deals with severe anxiety and panic attacks, internet bullying, and has a friend-turned-frenemy to worry about, and Elliot has parent problems and issues concerning his sexuality. There's plenty of friend drama and boy drama in there as well, which, as petty as it sounds, can be quite common with teenagers.

As a teenage blogger with anxiety myself, I'm sure my ability to relate to Penny certainly contributed to how much I liked these books. You could tell that it was written by someone who really understood anxiety, and it actually included a lot of solid advice about handling panic attacks.

That said, there was plenty more to love about these books if you don't have anxiety. I could see how someone could call some of the romance cheesy and predictable (then again, most YA romance novels are), but it was enjoyable to read nonetheless. All of Penny's experiences certainly built up an emotional roller coaster, and it was really easy to slip into her world. I honestly could not put them down, and ended up reading both in a day, and then wishing I had more to read. I'm definitely hoping to own real copies of both books soon! (And her third book, when it eventually comes out...)

If you've struggled with anxiety or panic attacks, I would strongly recommend reading these books because it was so refreshing to read something by someone who really understood, and finding little bits of advice scattered about was really helpful. Even if you're just looking for a fun young adult romance novel, I would still recommend giving these a chance.

Side note to my readers-- while I may not have the huge supportive group of blog readers Penny had, I'm also thankful not to have experienced the ugly side of the internet, like she did. Thank you for your support and kind comments.

If you've read these books, want to read them, or have any other book recommendations for me, feel free to let me know in comments below!

Zoella's YouTube channel
Zoella's blog (and her two posts about anxiety here and here)
Zoella's video about her anxiety and her anxiety Q&A video
Zoella's book club video (aka my new books-to-read list!)

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