They Both Die at the End
by Adam Silvera
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Length: 384 pages
Obtained Via: I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for consideration of an honest review.
View at the Traffic light:
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.
Adam Silvera is an auto-read author for me, so I feel confident when I say They Both Die at the End is Silvera’s best book. I thoroughly liked More Happy Than Not and History is All You Left of Me, but THIS BOOK. Did it destroy me? A little. Even though you know something horrible is going to happen to these characters, it’s impossible to put this book down.
When someone puts their journey out there for you to watch, you pay attention — even if you know they’ll die at the end.
On September 5th, Mateo Torrez learns that he’s going to die. Mateo is a very lonely individual. His dad is in a coma, and his best friend is busy taking care of her infant. Mateo isn’t one to take chances. But when he already knows he’s going to die, he downloads the Last Friends app and meets up with Rufus, a guy who’s rather fearless in comparison. In fact, when Rufus gets the Death-Cast call, he’s in a fight with his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend. Rufus is an orphan, but has made his own family before he learns he’s going to die. Mateo and Rufus aren’t very alike, but they manage to find each other anyway.
I could write about what happens in They Both Die at the End, but I could never do this book justice. On the surface, the plot is rather. . . episodic. I could write about how Mateo and Rufus go here, and then there, and then somewhere else, which they do all day. They Both Die at the End takes place entirely on September 5th, Mateo and Rufus’ death day, but Silvera crams so much poignant emotion into one day. The appeal of They Both Die at the End is not about what actually happens, but how Mateo and Rufus come to relate to each other and live so fully in their last day.
And yes, there is romance in this book, but there’s something so bittersweet about it. Mateo and Rufus obviously start with friendship, but there’s a desperation to their entire relationship. They’ve only known each other for a day, and their time is incredibly limited — what could have happened if they had more time? I don’t want to downplay their romance, because it is there and it’s important, but it’s almost secondary to how they relate to each other. It’s very, very hard for me to describe the relationship Silvera writes in this book — it’s a relationship found out of desperation and luck, and it borders familial, platonic, and romantic at different times. I think that’s one of the genius parts of this book, because it’s so easy to imagine what it would be like to get to know somebody in just one day if you were brave enough to strip all the shallow, surface things we focus on away.
I also feel like I have to say how amazing I found all of the secondary characters in They Both Die at the End. Even though I’ve loved Adam Silvera’s previous books, I feel like characters have, up until this point, been his weak point. His books are emotional and important, but I find the characters normally very easy to forget about after I’m done reading the book. Not so with They Both Die at the End. I was so enthralled by every single character’s story, even the POV from the random side characters, which annoyed me at first but I came to appreciate as the story went on. This book was populated with characters that felt like real, living people I could meet on the streets, whether they were living their last day or not.
They Both Die at the End is a beautiful, moving book that quickly became my favorite book by Adam Silvera. All the praise this book has received is well-deserved, and I’m so glad I read this book. It’s not going to be for everyone–there’s so much about grief and loss–but also about family and relationships and bravery. 5/5 cupcakes.