Will Zoella break more book records with Girl Online on Tour?

Social media megastar's second book is more authentic, if only she had something better to say


Lifestyle vlogger and teen fiction sensation Zoella has released a follow-up to her bestselling novel Girl Online, prompting commentators to ask: is it any good, did she actually write it, and why should we care?

Zoella, whose real name is Zoe Sugg, is a 25-year-old English YouTube megastar and one of the most high-profile members of her generation of vloggers, who also include Michelle Phan and Tyler Oakley. She vlogs about everything from cat-flick eyeliner to cupcake decorating and her boyfriend, fellow vlogger Alfie Deyes, to her nine million odd subscribers.

Zoella's first novel, Girl Online, released in November 2014, broke the record for highest first-week sales of a first-time novelist, and went on to become the fastest selling book of the year. It tells the story of an anonymous teen blogger who dates a pop star and whose life changes when her blog goes viral.

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It was billed by her publisher, Penguin, as touching on many issues Zoe talks about in her videos and blogs – such as "dealing with panic attacks and juggling separate online and offline lives" in "Zoe's relatable, fresh and engaging voice".

But the publication sparked controversy and an outcry from fans when it was revealed that the book was ghost written with the help of young-adult novelist Siobhan Curham, reports The Guardian. Zoella took a break from the internet and was forced to release a statement admitting she received help from Penguin's editorial team.

However, Zoella claims to have taken a more hands-on approach with her new book, Girl Online on Tour and says she wrote the majority of the novel herself with the assistance of editor Amy Alward, says the International Business Times. In a YouTube video, Zoella said: "With Girl Online I also had an editorial consultant who helped me get everything down on the page and as it was my first novel it was all very daunting and very scary but I feel as though I'm learning as I go along so now it's just me and Amy for book two."

Girl Online on Tour sees blogger, Penny, pining after her "rock star extraordinaire" boyfriend Noah Flynn, but when she decides to join him on tour, she finds the touring lifestyle isn't as glamorous as it's cracked up to be.

Early reviews about the book have been positive.

Girl Online on Tour "doesn't read as much like a ghosted novel", says Charlotte Runcie in the Daily Telegraph. Though still set firmly in teen-fantasyville, it feels like a more grown-up book, says Runcie.

She adds that elements of Sugg's own experiences, her chirpy way of speaking and her genuine interest in mental health "shine through with greater authenticity here, and it's all the more endearing for that".

But while Zoella's new book is predicted to be a smash hit, not everyone is a fan of her position as a teen role model.

Chloe Hamilton, writing in The Independent, says Zoella's brand of "sickly sweet girl power" brings her out in hives. Zoella says she wants young girls to worry less about their appearance, says Hamilton, but she unwittingly exacerbates their body anxiety by rabbiting on about "perfect festival hair".

The sad thing is, Zoe's devotees hold her in such high esteem that "she could make a credible difference to their lives", says Hamilton, adding, if only she did away with beauty tutorials altogether and instead "used her soapbox solely to speak out about the pressure girls are under to look pretty all the time".

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