My Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
When I read, “A love story for cynics,” at the cover I clicked the request button on Netgalley so fast. As someone who always sees a half-empty glass of water, I was really excited to read this one because cynics and pessimists are my kind of people. But did I got what I wanted? Well, not quite.
Petula is this quirky and crafty girl, she’s living with serious anxiety ever since her little sister died. She shuts down everyone including her ex-bestfriend, she can’t deal with things most of the time because her anxiety just eats her up. Some readers may find her character quite immature, but what do you expect from a 16-year old girl?
Jacob, on the other hand, is this boy she met at art therapy class. He’s an amputee, so plus points for representation here, and generally cute and likable. Oh yeah, he also likes films and he directs videos which made the story more interesting.
The thing is, for a promised “cynic love story” it came out pretty optimistic. There was no insta-love, the development of Petula and Jacob’s relationship was well-paced, but it unfortunately became a “love-can-overcome-everything story”. Petula’s anxiety was portrayed poorly in here, it appeared and disappeared when Jacob came in the story.
Let’s be reminded that love or any boy cannot cure mental illnesses, portraying it as so is both unrealistic and harmful.
With that out, I actually liked the rest of the story. Despite being a character-driven book, the plot holds something to watch out for and it does throw some revelations toward the end. The writing style also worked for me, it was a delight to read and I basically finished this in one sitting.
And oh! This has A LOT of cats in it, YES CATS! Petula’s mom is a cat-lady and there were so many adorable scenes with her purr-y friends. This includes making a remake of Wuthering Heights with cats as the characters—best idea ever, just genius.
I’ve put off writing this review for quite some time, and I initially gave this 4-stars but after some weeks plus some reevaluation I decided to take one star off. The reason behind this, is that I cannot remember enough details about it after some time which makes it not deserve 4-stars. Basically what I’m saying is that, it’s not remarkable.
It’s a fun and quirky read but it does not leave a lasting impression. It’s something you’ve read before but with some different quirks.
Optimists Die First is a good quick read if you enjoy character-driven books with a lots of cats. It can possibly make you slightly less pessimistic after the last page. Do I recommend this? Sure, if you want something light to read during your past time but if you’re looking for books that deal with mental illnesses that has a realistic approach well, this one isn’t it.
Thank you so much Netgalley and the publisher for giving me an eARC of this book.