Before ever watching any video put out by the YouTuber Zoella, I had come across her book on Amazon and the plot of the story drew me in (basically, girl with blog meets cute boy). I picked up a copy of the book from The Strand and I quickly moved it to the top of my TBR pile. About halfway through I came across articles about Zoella and the controversy surrounding the book I was currently in the middle of reading. It turns out that Girl Online was actually written by a ghostwriter (Siobhan Curham) and people were getting very upset about it.
It’s nothing new for publishing houses to employ ghostwriters to pen the books that most celebrities slap their names on but something about this felt different. It led me to think long and hard about why I had such an off feeling about something I’ve accepted so easily in the past until I drew this conclusion: It’s different for a person who develops all of their own content to pass something off as their own original work. Despite the amount of involvement Zoella may have had in the initial brainstorming process, she didn’t put the proverbial pen to page and write the finished product. This leads to dangerous territory because Zoella will inevitably lose some credibility with her YouTube fans.
Girl Online was the first book published by Keywords Press, a division of Simon & Schuster created solely to publish books written by people with influential online persona’s. This also leads me to wonder if Keywords will be hiring ghostwriters for all of the books they’re going to publish in the future or if they’ll take the Zoella catastrophe into consideration when making future decisions.
Overall, I struggle to admit that I enjoyed aspects of Girl Online. It was by no means a favorite of mine, but it was one of those quick and easy reads that I need every once in a while. I found myself actively acknowledging that the writing is poor and the story is predictable yet I somehow managed to form an attachment to the main character? The story was FULL of common character tropes, cliched plot elements, and current pop culture references that will not date well. But I did enjoy the New York City adventure, the cute Brooklyn boy, and the blogging portion (despite the overly cheesiness of it). I honestly think I would be too embarrassed to recommend this book to anyone because of all the issues I recognize within it despite my ability to like it.
What are your feelings on ghostwriters? Does your opinion also differ since this time it involves a YouTube star?
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. (via Goodreads)