Hello, Bookish Buddies, and welcome to my review of Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen. I received an ARC of this book via Random House Children’s on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. As you know if you regularly read my posts, I like going into books mostly blind, so I physically couldn’t overlook a book titled Optimists Die First. It sounded like it was my kind of humor, so I was sold. For those of you who are interested the synopsis of Optimists Die First, here it is:
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. . .
To be completely honest, I found that the beginning dumps a lot of information on the reader right as they get into the story. I was a little disappointed by this, however I was still intrigued by the main character, Petula, so I went on reading, still hopeful. And then Optimists Die First blew me away.
Optimists Die First is a rather heavy read in my opinion, but it is still short enough and moves fast enough that it can be read in one sitting. Although the story dealt with a lot of heavy topics, it has just the appropriate amount of humor to balance it out.
One thing I was really scared of was the development romantic relationship, which I felt would be better of platonic throughout the first half of the book, but I was pleasantly surprise. The romantic relationship was integrated really nicely and it flowed well with the story.
Adding onto that, I think all of the relationships, romantic, platonic, and familial alike, were very well done. I loved seeing how all of the friendships formed and evolved throughout the story. They all felt really genuine and it was really nice to see how everyone supported each other and showed affection in their own ways.
Overall, I gave Optimists Die First 4/5 stars.