Title: They Both Die at the End
Author: Adam Silvera
Category: YA Contemporary (LGBTQIAP+)
Publisher/Date: Harperteen/5 September 2017
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 and to live a lifetime in a single day.
If you’re letting the title of this book prevent you from reading it because it’s too “spoilery” for you, then you are missing out.
They Both Die at the End actually made me contemplate how I would spend my final day if I knew it was my last. Part of the reason I adored it so much is because I saw a lot of myself in Mateo – I’d be that kid who was afraid to leave the house and who would (let’s be honest here) turn to the Internet to find someone to talk to before my day had ended. And then I probably would have let someone like Rufus convince me to go have some fun. That anxiety struck a chord with me like few books do. Maybe it’s because we are alike. Maybe it’s because I’m literally afraid of death. Either way, this felt real to me, and I appreciate this representation in the book.
I identified a bit less with Rufus, but the explicit bisexual representation with his character was something I most certainly welcomed. I loved how open and comfortable he was with his sexuality as well. He’s someone who feels comfortable taking risks and going out on limbs and it’s just a wonderful contrast to Mateo’s character, and the way in which Silvera manages to keep the two of them in sync despite their differences worked beautifully.
One kind of weird thing about this book is that it switches perspectives between characters every chapter, and for any chapter that isn’t from Mateo or Rufus’s perspective, they’re written in the third person. It’s a little strange to get used to, but for me it works because the two first-person characters we’re reading about are the ones we’re forming attachments to, and while we don’t really need to get attached to the third-person side characters their perspectives do add another layer to the story. Like with the spoiler title, every time we meet a new perspective character we’re immediately told whether or not they’re going to die later that day, and every single character impacted Mateo and Rufus’s day somehow. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I really enjoyed it.
The lack of explanation of Death-Cast and how they know that people are going to die when they do is a little frustrating, but the thing is it’s frustrating for everyone, including all of the characters in the book (even the ones who are making the calls). Though you’ll genuinely want to know why this is a thing by the end of the book, you have to keep in mind that this book isn’t meant to be a mystery. It’s meant to be a love story (a tragic, Silvera-eque love story). Something this large in this society isn’t something that’s likely going to be figured by two teenagers within 24 hours, especially ones who know that they’re going to die and want to spend their last day not solving that mystery. It’s frustrating, but I get it. If it were your last day, would you spend the whole day trying to figure out how they knew to call you? I wouldn’t.
I don’t cry while reading very often, but this book definitely had me shedding a few tears. This book is a sad book – something that you can figure out from the title alone – but it’s one that’s filled with love and excitement and thrills. It’s one that made me question what I’m doing in life. It’s one that’s worth a few teardrops to read.
Final rating: 5 of 5 stars