[Canadian 🇨🇦 Audiobook Talk] Optimists Die First by Susin Neilsen

Audiobook Details:

Format: Hardcover & Audiobook
Source: Won & Borrowed
Narrator: Julia Whelan
Length: 4 hours 58 minutes
Read: May 2017


Life ahead: Proceed with caution.

Sixteen-year-old Petula De Wilde is anything but wild. A family tragedy has made her shut herself off from the world. Once a crafting fiend with a happy life, Petula now sees danger in everything, from airplanes to ground beef.

The worst part of her week is her comically lame mandatory art therapy class. She has nothing in common with this small band of teenage misfits, except that they all carry their own burden of guilt.

When Jacob joins their ranks, he seems so normal and confident. Petula wants nothing to do with him, or his prosthetic arm. But when they’re forced to collaborate on a unique school project, she slowly opens up, and he inspires her to face her fears.

Until a hidden truth threatens to derail everything.

My Thoughts

This book was okay, though probably not one I would’ve picked up on my own. I had won it from an Indigo Twitter contest and it was very short, AND my library had the audiobook so I dove in. It really wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. Based on the cover, one would almost think it was middle grade, but it was definitely YA content. The subject matter was a bit intense and one that scared me so much, reading it as a mother.

One thing that really worked for me in this book was the relationship between Petula and her parents. I once griped about how the parents are never there in YA books and in this kind of a book the parents were necessary. They had issues to work out, along with Petula, and it was really important to the story that they have that emotional connection about what happened that led to Petula’s anxiety. I really liked how their relationship was portrayed.

I think what didn’t work for me in this book was the fact that it’s very serious in most respects, but there’s this note of comedy that’s added throughout that just didn’t fit with the story. Not only that, but there just had to be a romantic angle thrown in and even though I love romance in my books, I could’ve done without it in this book. Especially the message that problems might go away once you find a guy. I also didn’t quite connect with any of the characters and I much prefer books where I connect with at least one of the characters. I think in the end, this book just wasn’t for me – it’s not that it was bad, because it wasn’t, I just wish it had been longer, more fleshed out, and just paced a bit slower.

I wouldn’t write off any other Susin Neilsen books – I saw another reviewer say she’s like the Canadian Sarah Dessen and I can kind of see why. However, Sarah’s books have more of a likability about them, something that connects to readers right off the bat, whereas this book tended to work for affection. I’m definitely interested in checking out more of Susin’s titles, though, to see if anything else grabs my eye.

Audiobook Notes: 

I wasn’t the biggest fan of the narration. One of the things I prefer when reading YA books is for someone who actually sounds like a young adult to read – in this case, the narrator sounded a lot older, so it just didn’t work for me.

But don’t take my word for it … read some other reviews! 

Lost In A Story
Book Princess Reviews
The Bookavid


3 thoughts on “[Canadian 🇨🇦 Audiobook Talk] Optimists Die First by Susin Neilsen

  1. Pingback: Month of Canada for #Canada150 Wrap Up & Giveaway! | Reading In Winter

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