Review Optimists Die First.

Award-winning author Susin Nielsen has written a laugh-out-loud and heartrending novel for fans of Robyn Schneider’s Extraordinary Means and Cammie McGovern’s Say What You Will.

Beware: Life ahead.

Sixteen-year-old Petula de Wilde is anything but wild. A former crafting fiend with a happy life, Petula shut herself off from the world after a family tragedy. She sees danger in all the ordinary things, like crossing the street, a bug bite, or a germy handshake. She knows: life is out to get you.

The worst part of her week is her comically lame mandatory art therapy class with a small group of fellow misfits. Then a new boy, Jacob, appears at school and in her therapy group. He seems so normal and confident, though he has a prosthetic arm; and soon he teams up with Petula on a hilarious project, gradually inspiring her to let go of some of her fears. But as the two grow closer, a hidden truth behind why he’s in the group could derail them, unless Petula takes a huge risk. . .

Title. Optimists Die First
Author. Susin Nielsen
Publisher. Penguin Random House/ Andersen
Release Date. March 2nd 2017
Standalone/Series. Standalone
Pages. 272
Genre. Young Adult – Contemporary Romance

I received this novel through NetGalley from the publisher. This has in no way influenced my review.

When I noticed this book on NetGalley I was interested right away. I liked the cover and it already had a lot of positive reviews on Goodreads. It is always a surprise whether or not I get it in the end, but I would see. So when I got mail that I was approved I send it to my Kindle right away, because I was in the mood for this book. Or so I thought…

It might sound a bit weird, but I was glad we got to know her secret to her unhappiness after a couple of chapters. I know it adds to the suspense and makes it more mysterious when they wait until the book is almost over before they release the “big secret”, but I’m getting a bit sick of that. It is easier to relate to someone when you know what happened to them.

Related to that I also liked that the main character and her love interest more or less told each other the truth at give or take 30%. At some point you just have to trust each other, otherwise it won’t work anyway. (Of course we all knew he did not tell the entire truth, a lot of signs pointed it that direction.. but our main character was a bit naïve like that). Still, it was refreshing that she spilled everything instead of having big trust issues like almost every other book in this genre.

Yes it was all quite standard in the romance compartment, but I liked it. They liked each other almost right away, but they took their time to get to know each other and their relationship developed rather gradual. I don’t like insta-love much, and luckily for me this wasn’t. It was sweet and adorable.

I liked the whole YAFT group and how they helped each other deal with their problems. They relied on each other and you noticed all of them grow throughout the novel.
I’m a little annoyed lately by how most contemporary novels only bother with the two main characters and the other ones a just side characters, and have no depth or are unable to grow. In this one she focuses on the main characters, but also on the ones close to them. Her friends from the YAFT group and her parents go through things as well and you see them develop too.
AND !! All of that within 300 pages !!

Petula was an interesting character and I related to her easily. It is very logically how the death of her little sister transformed her and made it so she got scared of everything. I loved how (with help) she grew stronger and braver.

I really disliked how this book was subscribed a something full of laughter, but I found it not funny at all. This whole subject isn’t funny, and that is alright, but don’t make it out to be something that it is not. Because of this I was rather disappointed when I started to cry instead of laugh-out-loud.

Overall, I really liked this book. It was beautiful and moving. Petula was easy to relate to and it had its heart-quenching moments. It might not be what I expected it to be, but it was effortless to get through this story and I finished it in no time. It also shows that living with guilt is sometimes just as hard as being one of the victims. Great novel, 4.5 stars !!



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