Spoiler-Free Review: Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen
Title - Optimists Die First
Author - Susin Nielsen
Genres - YA, Contemporary, Romance
Synopsis - Petula has avoided friendship and happiness ever since tragedy struck her family and took her beloved younger sister Maxine. Worse, Petula blames herself. If only she'd kept an eye on her sister, if only she'd sewn the button Maxine choked on better, if only...
Now her anxiety is getting out of control, she is forced to attend the world’s most hopeless art therapy class. But one day, in walks the Bionic Man: a charming, amazingly tall newcomer called Jacob, who is also an amputee. Petula's ready to freeze him out, just like she did with her former best friend, but when she’s paired with Jacob for a class project, there’s no denying they have brilliant ideas together – ideas like remaking Wuthering Heights with cats.
But Petula and Jacob each have desperately painful secrets in their pasts – and when the truth comes out, there’s no way Petula is ready for it.
*I was sent a copy of this book in trade for an honest review via Netgalley*
I'm just going to start this off by saying this book was a lot shorter than I expected. I received a copy for review via Netgalley and I believe it's coming out in the UK at the start of March. I decided that I wanted to get ahead of my review books and make sure that I have the reviews up in time for the book release dates. I started this one first as I was expecting the book to be quite long, but it turned out to be under 300 pages.
I only meant to read the first couple of pages, but I ended up reading a good chunk of the book in one sitting. I loved it. I loved the concept and enjoyed the story and the characters, but I did have a few issues.
The main character, Petula, is described as having anxiety. I can definitely see that in the character, but I've heard other people say she is more paranoid. I agree with that, but I think that's what sets her anxiety off, so I think the whole idea of her paranoia and anxiety works well together in the book. The one issue I have with it is that it seems a boy is the thing that "cures" her anxiety. In other books I've read, it's always been a boy who magically cures the person. There's no cure to anxiety, only ways to help deal with it. However, I understand that this is a contemporary romance, so I sort of expected that to happen, so I'm not going to go too much about that, but I thought I should mention it incase you'd rather avoid books of that type.
However, there is a lot more to the "boy", Jacob, in this story and his relationship with Petula is a big feature of the book. It's not as straightforward as he "cures" her as they have their problems (some big), but he does help her to do things she's never been able to do before.
The storyline was really intriguing and I loved how each character had their own secrets that played a part in why they act like they do. I also liked the progression you can see in some of the characters throughout the book as they overcome their problems.
I found myself whizzing through this book and not just because of its length, but also due to the writing. I really liked the writing and thought it fitted well with the plot and Susin Nielsen did a great job of keeping the book moving.
Another thing I liked about this story was some of the smaller details mentioned, like Petula's mums' cat obsession and how they were named after different book characters and how Jacob and Petula make the cat video. Small things like that really added to the story and gave me moments to laugh at.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and am definitely happy that authors are starting to include issues like anxiety, addiction etc into YA literature as they are subjects that are sometimes avoided, so even though Optimists Die First included one or two common YA tropes in anxiety books, I still really enjoyed it.
Rate - 4/5
GR - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30335388-optimists-die-first?from_search=true
BD - https://www.bookdepository.com/Optimists-Die-First/9781783445585
Hi! I see you've stumbled across my blog.