Format: Hardback, 368 pages
My rating: 4/5
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.
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.
I really set myself up with this one.
“When someone puts their journey out there for you to watch, you pay attention—even if you know they’ll die at the end.”
I have to admit that They Both Die at the End made me nervous. Not because of the suggestion made by the title, but because I was scared that Adam Silvera’s work would fall flat. See, I read More Happy Than Not last year, and I didn’t feel like it quite lived up to the hype. It was an enjoyable read (I even rated it four stars), but something about it fell a little flat for me. Also, books set within a twenty-four hour time period seem to be a huge hit or miss.
I ended up liking They Both Die at the End way more than anticipated. First off, I was a huge fan of the world building. Other reviewers have critiqued the lack of information put into expelling Death-Cast, and I see this as a completely valid point. In the end, there are still unexplained aspects in the world Adam built, but I felt like this method actually worked best for the book. The concept of living in a world in which you know the day you’ll die is also an incredibly thought provoking concept.
Also, the characters? I loved them. All the characters and (most of ) their relationships felt so authentic. Of course I loved our beautiful cinnamon roll, Mateo Torrez. Rufus took more warming up to, but as the novel progressed and you became more familiar with him it was easy to care for him. I could not believe how well developed each of the boys’ voices were. From the very first sentences of their perspectives, I could tell that Adam masterfully crafted completely individual characters. Not only did I love the two protagonists, but their friends and family really helped drive the book forward.
“Yo, Mateo is too good. But I’m mad shocked to meet someone so . . . pure?”
Okay, I just complimented the character design, but I do have a nitpick about Mateo and Rufus. Their character designs almost felt a little to convenient for me. Mateo is this good heartfelt kid while Rufus spent his morning beating someone to a bloody pulp? It just felt very simplistic that these two opposite boys would match together to be friends on their End Days. I suppose that’s part of the charm.
One really unique aspect of this book is the multitude perspectives. There are several chapters throughout the book that are told from an offhand character that doesn’t seem relevant to the story. However, all the details form these chapters intertwine in the end to really add depth to the narrative. I was super surprised by how well all these perspectives worked in the novel’s favor.
Overall, They Both Die at the End was a very enjoyable novel. Although it is in some ways a story about death, it’s far more a story about living your life to the fullest and forming meaningful relationships during your time alive.