Monday, September 15, 2014

Review: FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS by Leigh Ann Kopans

Title: First World Problems
Author: Leigh Ann Kopans
Published: September 2nd, 2014
Genre: YA / NA contemporary
POV: 1st person
Pages: 300
Publisher: Self-published
Format: eARC
Source: Author
Rating: The Royal Library, Bottom Shelf

Sofia's had a really rough year - busted for cheating at prep school, dumped for the first time ever, and her new non-profit working stepmother is turning out to be an uppity bitch.

She deserves to treat herself. But when she throws herself a birthday party with 20 of her closest friends in Paris and (accidentally!) maxes out her dad's credit card in the process, he’s had enough of her attitude. As punishment, he switches her planned gap year touring Europe to one doing community service work with the evil stepmother’s relief organization in Guyana.

The rural village of Dabu needs help in every area from education to getting safe drinking water. But Sofia’s more concerned about her roommate Callum, the gardening expert, who calls Sofia "Princess" and scoffs at her distaste for sweaty, muddy, iguana-eating, outhouse-using life in Guyana.

Eventually, life on the equator, her work in the village, and especially Callum - with his brooding eyes and bewitching New Zealand accent - start to grow on Sofia. Life is rough in Guyana, but it’s roughest on the girls, whose families are too poor to send only the most promising boys in school. They’re trapped in a cycle that will keep them from ever making a better life for themselves, or for the village. Worse, Callum doesn’t seem to think any of the changes Sofia envisions are actually necessary.

Determined to change the girls’ futures, she comes up with a strategy to help them and, ultimately, the village. But what starts out as a plan to convince Callum and her father that she’s fallen in love with Guyana, turns into the realization that maybe she’s falling for Callum, too. And that by changing these girls’ lives, she might also be changing her own.

Sofia is the girl who has it all - or that's at least what she wants everyone to think. After her father misses her birthday and she spends a ridiculous some of money on an even more ridiculous party, Sofia finds herself being shipped off to Guyana to give back through community service. From sleeping in a hammock to completing unpleasant tasks, Sofia has a lot to do to convince her parents that she's truly changed so she can go home....Charming and hilarious, First World Problems is a wonderfully entertaining story to read.

It's obvious from page one that Sofia isn't the type of girl most people would like, and Kopans doesn't shy away from revealing all of Sofia's flaws and putting them on display. She's privileged, knows it, and doesn't hesitate to do whatever it takes to get what she wants. But, somehow, Sofia grows into a character you want to root for. And, I eventually found myself appreciating her brand of humor, intelligence, and newly acquired outlook on life. The lush, descriptive Guyana setting and variety of characters make First World Problems an engaging story. The story builds at a slow pace, but there's never a dull moment. A humorous novel with a wonderful message, First World Problems is entertaining from start to finish. 

Highlights: Sofia's development is gradual, realistic, and in the end, she becomes a better version of herself. This story is about coming of age, learning to appreciate what you have, and giving back, and Kopans portrays every theme perfectly. The romance is very slowly developed into something sweet, but there are a few realistic bumps in the road. The setting is incredibly easy to visualize, and Kopans brings the village and its inhabitants to life with every word. The side characters are fantastic, I only wish a few had been featured more. While the storyline is easy to predict, the characters and setting make this novel unique and a pleasure to read. 

Lowlights: A bit predictable, with few overly dramatic moments (but I think the latter is to be expected with a character like Sofia).

Rating: The Royal Library, Bottom Shelf (low 4 out of 5)First World Problems is great and worth reading, and it earns a spot on the bottom shelves of the royal library. I enjoyed it enough to want to read it more than once, but I do have some issues with the story that I cannot ignore. Regardless, a vivid setting, diverse characters, and fun writing make First World Problems an incredibly enjoyable read. 

I received an advanced copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review. 
This is no way affected my opinion of this novel.


  1. Like the sound of her gradual character growth, I haven't heard of this one but sounds good

  2. I think the concept sounds good. There aren't a lot of YA books set in third world countries especially those featuring "first world" teens (Sea by Heidi Kling is one that comes to mind). I don't read self-published books but this does sound interesting.

  3. I was thinking about reading her book Solving for Ex, but heard it wasn't all that great. This book seems to be a lot better and something I might consider reading. I like the fact that Sofia is flawed but does change as the book goes along. And the fact that the relationship is slow building with realistic problems is even better. Nothing is worse than a perfect insta-love! Great review!