Published: November 26th 2014 by Penguin
Format: Paperback, 346 pages
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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.
Girl Online is a light and fluffy story about a teen girl with an anonymous online blog. I was attracted to it because I ALSO HAVE A BLOG, and I thought there’d be all these amazing moments of connection with Penny. However, Girl Online has a very slow and shaky beginning, and although it does improve eventually, it’s not really the kind of book that I enjoy.
My main issue with this book is that it just felt too juvenile. I can’t really put my finger on one thing, so I’ll list a few things to try to describe it. Penny and her friends felt like caricatures of teenagers to me rather than real teenagers – they each fit too comfortably into their designated pigeon holes and didn’t have any depth to them. It took about three-quarters of the book to convince me that Penny had some dimensionality, and I never felt Noah was anything but the perfect, ultra-amazing, dream boat of a boy.
The characters could have been redeemed by great plotting, but Girl Online is simply too predictable and syrupy sweet for my liking. Everything that happened to Penny was super dramatic and she completely melted down at the weirdest things, and although I know that as a teenager it feels like it’s the end of the world, but when I read this book I wasn’t in the frame of mind to indulge that kind of thinking. I just kept thinking how in three years she’s going to realise how absurd she was about almost everything (although, the Unicorn Underwear incident was a special kind of horrible. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone).
Finally, I understand that the Let Us All Go To New York thing was meant to be a way to get Penny away from all the weirdness and introduce a new world where dream-boats like Noah exist, but I was super freaked out by Penny’s parents and how they didn’t care that she was spending all her time with Noah. He was a strange boy! They went on picnics on the roof and held hands at the dinner table after 48 hours of knowing each-other. Perfectly normal behaviour.
Also, we used the L-word way too early in this book.
Girl Online is probably a really cute story that most people would like, but I obviously wasn’t in the mood for its brand of drama and serendipity. I really did think I’d like it. It just ended up annoying more than making me smile.Blogging Outside the Box is a feature at Speculating on SpecFic, where books outside the SFF banner are reviewed. It is intended to highlight some of the non speculative fiction titles I am reading and share my thoughts with readers.