Book Review – They Both Die at the End

Author: Adam Silvera

Publication Date: September 5, 2017

Length: 373 pages

Read Date(s): June 18, 2021 – June 22, 2021

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Goodreads Synopsis

Adam Silvera reminds us that there’s no life without death and no love without loss in this devastating yet uplifting story about two people whose lives change over the course of one unforgettable day.

New York Times bestseller * 4 starred reviews * A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year * A Kirkus Best Book of the Year * A Booklist Editors’ Choice of 2017 * A Bustle Best YA Novel of 2017 * A Paste Magazine Best YA Book of 2017 * A Book Riot Best Queer Book of 2017 * A Buzzfeed Best YA Book of the Year * A BookPage Best YA Book of the Year

On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today.

Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.

In the tradition of Before I Fall and If I Stay, They Both Die at the End is a tour de force from acclaimed author Adam Silvera, whose debut, More Happy Than Not, the New York Times called “profound.”

My Review

This is such a beautiful book. I was hooked from the title when I saw it in the store because it shocked me to see the supposed ending right there on the cover of the book. The story turned out to be exactly what I needed to read in this moment, and it left me an emotional wreck once it was over. It was a truly cathartic experience that made me question some things about my own life. It also reminded me that, regardless of how different our stories may be, we all end up at the same destination – dead at the end.

The premise of the book was actually pretty simple. In the near future, a company figures out how to predict when people will die and gives them a courtesy call on their last day to let them know of their impending demise. Two teenage boys get the call and decide to use the Last Friend app to find someone with whom to enjoy their last day instead of spending it alone. The first quarter of the book shows them finding out about their death and connecting on the app. The rest of the book just follows them for the remainder of the day. It is almost poignant in its simplicity, but I’m sure some people will probably be bored with nothing but following the boys around all day. However, I loved it.

The reading experience really simulated the existential dread of knowing about my own imminent death. As I read through the story, I found myself anxious because I kept waiting for the death of the characters to be right around the corner. I’m already a pretty anxious person, and this book capitalized on it in a big way by throwing twists in to keep me constantly wondering how the boys would die. There were several times I thought I had it figured out, but then the story pulled the rug out from under me. It also illustrated clearly how close we all are to death at any given moment.

He’s right. I am doing this to myself. I’m holding myself back. I’ve spent years living safely to secure a longer life, and look where that’s gotten me. I’m at the finish line, but I never ran the race.

They Both Die at the End, pg. 136

Perhaps more importantly, the book demonstrated how precious life is and how experiences and connection are important to having a full life. The relationship development between Mateo and Rufus was beautiful to read, and I enjoyed how they pushed each other to be better versions of themselves. Although, I didn’t really get a romantic vibe from the connection between them despite some little hints dropped throughout. I definitely saw how a romance could have developed between them if they had more time, but it just felt a bit forced into the narrative toward the end. I identified with Mateo more than Rufus because of his struggles with anxiety, and I loved seeing how his connection with Rufus helped him grow so much and make the most of his last day. Rufus was a great character too, though, and seeing him come to terms with his grief over previous loss was also a highlight of the book. All in all, I quickly grew to love the main characters and learning their outcomes in the end was a truly heartbreaking experience.

I guess I could call this energy freedom. No one will be around to judge me tomorrow. No one will send messages to friends about the lame kid who had no rhythm. And in this moment, how stupid it was to care hits me like a punch to the face.

I wasted time and missed fun because I cared about the wrong things.

They Both Die at the End, pg. 303

Overall, I really loved almost everything about this book, especially the way the author created feelings in me that mimicked the journey of the characters. After seeing their story, I don’t think I would want to know when I will die, but I was reminded that each day could be my last. Living in fear is no way to live, but reflecting on how it could all come to an end today reinforced my motivation to live life to its fullest every single day. Based on the feelings this book produced and the amount of time I’ve spent thinking about it since finishing it, I’ve got to rate this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Have you read They Both Die at the End? What did you think? Does it sound like something you would enjoy reading?

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