Girl Online

Girl Online is the debut novel by English author and internet celebrity Zoe Sugg. The romance and drama novel, released on 25 November 2014 through Penguin Books, is aimed at a teen audience and focuses on a fifteen-year-old anonymous blogger and what happens when her blog goes viral. The novel is a New York Times Best Seller in the Young Adult category. The book was the fastest selling book of 2014 and it broke the record for highest first-week sales for a debut author since records began.

Girl Online
UK first edition
AuthorZoe Sugg
Audio read byHannah Tointon
CountryUnited Kingdom
SeriesGirl Online
GenreRomance / Drama
Media typePrint (Hardback) & eBook
Followed byGirl Online: On Tour 


The novel surrounds Penny Porter, a 15 year old living with her parents in Brighton. Penny starts blogging about her problems, such as school drama, friends, family, boys and the panic attacks she has been having. When things in her life go from bad to worse her family travels to New York City where her mother is organizing a wedding. Attending the wedding, Penny meets a musician, Noah, with whom she falls in love, resulting in her blog going viral. Penny then faces some unexpected challenges.


While based around similar experiences, Sugg has stated that the book is "in no way autobiographical".[1][2][3] The book was listed before release by pop culture website ANDPOP as one of "10 Books by Celebrities that are Worth Reading".[4]


Penguin stated that "Sugg did not write Girl Online on her own", stating that she "has worked with an expert editorial team to help her bring to life her characters and experiences in a heartwarming and compelling story".[5][6] It has been reported that young-adult novelist Siobhan Curham was a ghostwriter for the novel, although this has not been confirmed by Sugg, Curham, or Penguin.[5][6][7][8][9] Penguin stated that Curham was an "editorial consultant" for the novel.[6][10]

Publication history

Girl Online was officially released on 25 November 2014, though Penguin stated that due to high demand "every bookseller broke the embargo on its sale" before this date.[2][11] The book was in the "Top 100 Best Seller" list for 67 days prior to release, reaching third position, based on pre-sales alone.[12][13][14] The novel entered The New York Times Best Seller list for young adult fiction in position 9 for the week ending 14 December, dropping to 13 the following week.[15][16] Sugg went on a book signing tour in the UK to promote the release of the novel.[17] The sessions were held at secret locations and ticketed for health and safety concerns, due to the exceptional demand.[12][17]

The UK and US covers feature different images provided by Sugg's fans, selected via a competition hosted on Instagram.[18]


Girl Online broke the record for the highest ever first-week sales for a debut author since records began in 1998, selling a total of 78,109 copies, making it the fastest selling book of 2014.[19][20][21] As of April 2015 343,562 copies have been sold.[22]

  • 2014, UK, Penguin Books ISBN 978-0-1413-5727-0, pub date 25 Nov 2014, Hardback[23][24]
  • 2014, USA, Atria ISBN 978-1-4767-9745-8, pub date 25 Nov 2014, Hardback[23][24]
  • 2014, Penguin Books, pub date 25 Nov 2014, Audiobook


A sequel entitled Girl Online: On Tour was released on 20 October 2015.[25][26][27]

Third book

A third book, Girl Online: Going Solo was confirmed by Sugg on 8 July 2016 and published on 17 November 2016.


Girl Online received a mixed review from Anita Singh for The Daily Telegraph, who awarded it a score of three out of five. Singh found the romance to be unrealistic and stated that "the teenagers in this book bear no resemblance to any I have ever met", while also acknowledging that she is "not Zoella's target market" and that "times must have changed". She further states that while the book itself is "sugary as a frosted cupcake", "so is Zoella and six million YouTube subscribers love her that way" and that "Sugg has tapped into a truth"; "growing up doesn't have to mean leaving childish stuff behind."[28]

The novel was well received by Daisy Wyatt, for The Independent, who found the novel "difficult to fault", calling it "fun and easy to relate to, while also having a positive message". Wyatt found, however, that "while Girl Online does teach sound advice to teenagers about being cautious of their online activity", Sugg has "found fame and fortune in sharing personal details on the internet" and felt that her fans are more likely to copy her than the fictional Penny.[29] The novel was well received in The Guardian with reviewer 'lilybelle' stating "I could relate so much to everything" and that "This book inspired me... I literally feel as though I've changed overnight". She also found that Sugg "made Penny a bit too similar to herself", making it "confusing at times", but described the novel overall as "special and inspiring."[30]


  1. Adejobi, Alicia (2014-06-17). "YouTube Sensation Zoe 'Zoella' Sugg To Become Novelist After Signing Two-Book Deal". EntertainmentWise. Archived from the original on 2014-07-24. Retrieved 2014-06-23.
  2. Wyatt, Daisy (2014-11-25). "Zoella: YouTube sensation Zoe Sugg's debut novel set to become overnight bestseller". The Independent. Retrieved 2014-11-26.
  3. "Zoella's Girl Online Launch". Vogue. 2014-11-25. Retrieved 2014-11-26.
  4. Rodrigues, Brittany Goldfield (2014-10-01). "10 Books By Celebrities That Are Worth Reading". AndPOP. Retrieved 2014-10-02.
  5. Gibson, Megan (2014-12-08). "Fashion Blogger Zoella Admits She Did Not Write Girl Online On Her Own". Time. Retrieved 2014-12-09.
  6. Flood, Alison; Ellis-Petersen, Hannah (2014-12-08). "YouTube star takes online break as she admits novel was 'not written alone'". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-12-09.
  7. Butterly, Amelia (2014-12-08). "Zoella admits Girl Online, her debut novel, was written with 'help'". Newsbeat. Retrieved 2014-12-09.
  8. Runcie, Charlotte (7 December 2014). "Zoella's publishers confirm that Girl Online was ghostwritten". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  9. Scholes, Lucy (2014-12-11). "Meet Zoella—The Newbie Author Whose Book Sales Topped J.K. Rowling". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2014-12-12.
  10. Eyre, Charlotte (2014-12-08). "Penguin: "Zoella had help with Girl Online"". The Bookseller. Retrieved 2014-12-11.
  11. Powell, Emma (2014-11-25). "Zoella joined by Tanya Burr and Jamie Oliver at launch of debut novel Girl Online - which is set to become a UK bestseller". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 2014-11-26.
  12. Pells, Rachael (2014-11-26). "Zoella book launch: Teens, tears and tissues as YouTube star hits Waterstones". The Independent. Retrieved 2014-11-27.
  13. James, Richard (2014-10-31). "YouTube Star Zoella's Book Is Already A Bestseller And It Isn't Out For Another Month". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 2014-11-27.
  14. "Youtuber News: Zoella Will Turn Into A Bestselling Author After New YA Book Releases; Tops Pre-order Sales". Franchise Herald (Press release). 2014-01-01. Retrieved 2014-11-27.
  15. "Best Sellers - Young Adult: December 14, 2014". The New York Times. 2014-12-08. Retrieved 2014-12-09.
  16. "Best Sellers - Young Adult: December 21, 2014". The New York Times. 2014-12-15. Retrieved 2014-12-16.
  17. Cicurel, Deborah (2014-11-27). "Hundreds of teens cry at Zoella "Girl Online" book signing". Glamour. Retrieved 2014-11-27.
  18. McGuire, Tony (2014-11-24). "Beauty vlogger and Youtube hit Zoella launches debut book, Girl Online, at glitzy London bash". Daily Record. Retrieved 2014-11-26.
  19. Gibson, Megan (2014-12-03). "Meet The 24-Year-Old Blogger Who Just Smashed Sales Records With Her Debut Novel". Time. Retrieved 2014-12-04.
  20. Singh, Anita (2 December 2014). "Zoella breaks record for first-week book sales". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2014-12-03.
  21. Drabble, Emily (2014-12-03). "Zoe Sugg's Girl Online is fastest selling book of the year". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-12-03.
  22. Drabble, Emily (2015-04-27). "Zoella goes it alone with Girl Online 2". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-05-13.
  23. Flood, Alison (2014-06-17). "Zoe Sugg's YouTube success wins her two-book deal for novels". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-11-27.
  24. Eyre, Charlotte (2010-07-20). "Penguin Children's signs vlogger Zoella". The Bookseller. Retrieved 2014-06-23.
  25. "A second Zoella novel is coming in November". The Guardian. London. 19 March 2015. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
  26. Bayley, Leanne (2015-07-31). "Zoella Second Book: Girl Online: On Tour Release Date & Cover photo". Glamour. Retrieved 2015-08-21.
  27. Turner, Laura Jane (2015-08-05). "Girl Online: On Tour - Zoella Reveals Her New Book Cover". Look. Retrieved 2015-08-21.
  28. Singh, Anita (26 November 2014). "Zoella, Girl Online, review: 'sugary as a frosted cupcake'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 November 2014.
  29. Wyatt, Daisy (2014-12-19). "Book review: Zoe Suggs' Girl Online novel is hard to fault". The Independent. Retrieved 2014-12-19.
  30. lilybelle (2015-01-10). "Girl Online by Zoe Sugg - review". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-01-12.
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