I am taking a deep, deep breath before I start this.
Mostly because it is no secret that Girl Online is probably one of my favourite book series of all time. (Written by Zoe Sugg, aka YouTube sensation Zoella)
It always seems to appear just when something super awesome is happening in my life (like getting engaged, like getting married, like my wedding anniversary.) In addition to this it is generally released in November, so it is close to Christmas too feel good times.
Girl Online, while being super overly sweet and to the non-believers ‘shallow’, is everything I love in a book.
It is an escape.
It doesn’t try to make me think about anything, or feel a certain way, or change my mind about something. It is just a nice book to dive into tucked up on your sofa in your pajamas.
It is not just me either. I read Girl Online aloud to my husband while we were on our Honeymoon (the TV was rubbish…) and he loved it too!
I won’t lie to you, I wanted the third Girl Online ASAP after I finished the second one. This is was because it didn’t end too well for those on #Team NoahandPenny.
Basically after a total disaster tour with Noah, Penny decided she really needed to figure out who she was on her own. While Noah begged her to get back together and that she was his ‘forever girl’ Penny turned down his affections because she felt like their dreams were not compatible.
For a Devout follower of the ‘Happy Ending’ like myself there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth (as well as lots of googling afterwards for spoilers on the third book and whether Noah and Penny get back together)
Penny Porter (wedding planner parents, previously dated music sensation Noah Flynn, has her own hugely successful blog which was anonymous and the secret is out) is trying to get over Noah – who she broke up with a few months back.
She is also trying to find her ‘unique’ style with her photography.
Trying to get in a fresh headspace she heads up to visit her friend turned enemy turned friend again’s flash music and creative arts school. There she gets totally used by this friend turned enemy turned friend again, but meets a cute boy called Callum and a stage fright afflicted actress/singer named Posey.
Dates and meeting famous people happen, and a wedding in Scotland happens, and while this Callum guy is kind of a jerk (in my opinion) Penny seems sure of herself… that is until Noah steps back into the picture.
I am not going to spoil anything more, but that’s the over all story direction.
So what did I think of it?
It was lovely and charming – but not in the same way as the first and second books.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not a bad thing. It felt more grown up. We’ve seen Penny develop from a total push over into someone who isn’t afraid to call someone out on something when they’ve crossed a line (We’re looking at YOU Meagan!)
Going Solo felt more grown up, the characters were more grown up, the themes were more developed (looking at the positives of social media in a world where people disapprove of it a lot… like I do sometimes…)
I guess part of it was that this story was about what it states in the title: going solo, so the whole Noah and Penny thing was not the crown jewel here, it was not the beautiful and adorable, and romantic gestured centre piece of the table. As much as I would have wanted more of the Penny and Noah cuteness, I understand (given the core idea of the book) why we looked a lot at Penny as a person and a lot of the other relationships in her life.
I would give it a solid 3 and a half stars out of five. That’s just because I could have a little more Noah and Penny cuteness (please!?)
The writing is strong – Zoella is obviously finding her stride in this book, and I think it is probably some of her best in terms of writing skill.
The storyline is evenly paced, it doesn’t drag, although at times you want to scream at Penny to not be so trusting… gosh!
Something else that I absolutely love, and honestly if I ever met Zoella in person I would totally tell her, is that she obviously knows and cares about her characters inside out.
Zoe knows their secret hiding places, what they want to shake them from a super deep funk, what their core fears and aspirations are.
I have massive respect for authors who have that depth of connection and care for their characters.
I have said it a million times before but I will say it again.
If you haven’t read Girl Online – Christmas break is coming up, get a copy, tuck yourself away and bite into it. It is the literary equivalent of a ginger bread cookie.
You will NOT regret it.