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.
Okay, so here goes. They Both Die at the End is one of my favourite books of the year, if not one of my all-time favourites. I’m obsessed with everything Adam Silvera writes — and does — so there was never any question as to whether I’d pick up his latest novel. The first book I read by him was History is All You Left Me, which was released earlier this year, and then I proceeded to read More Happy Than Not. Both were phenomenal, to say the least.
I don’t know if this review is going to be able to encapsulate all my thoughts and feelings about They Both Die at the End, simply because I have a lot of them. Plus, I’m struggling to put them into words that accurately describe my emotions. I cried when I first touched a copy of this book, when I read the introduction by Adam Silvera, and all the way through. I was just one great big sobbing mess throughout, and I don’t apologise for that. I do, however, kind of hate Adam Silerva. Me being a blubbering mess and in a book hangover for a month afterwards was all his fault.
While it’s near impossible to choose my favourite book by Adam Silvera, I think that I preferred More Happy Than Not just a tad more than History is All You Left Me because I loved the speculative fiction element to it — whereby the characters lived in a world where they could undertake a procedure to erase memories. In They Both Die at the End, Adam again explores a world similar to the one we live in, but with one different (or speculative) element. Everyone receives a phone call alerting them on the day they die that they will die sometime in the next 24 hours or less.
I knew this was going to be an emotional read from when I first heard about it, but I was optimistic. Naïvely so. I wasn’t expecting things to end the way that they did and so I spent the whole book expecting the protagonists to survive their ordeals, which I think made my reading experience all the more painful. I’ve spoken to a few other people who read They Both Die at the End and didn’t connect with the protagonists because they felt they knew what would happen in the end and they didn’t want to get attached. Alas, I fell in love with both Rufus and Mateo and I still haven’t recovered. I’m not sure I ever will.
So the premise of They Both Die at the End is something I’ve always been interested in and have wanted to read about. So much so that Adam Silvera’s latest book is almost exactly the same as a manuscript I wrote last year. I mean, great minds do think alike, but it also goes to show that a lot of us think about the same issues — not knowing when we’re going to die or if we’re living our lives in a way we’re happy with or how we’ll make our mark on the world. These are big topics, and Adam tackled them in a way that left me feeling inspired and as though I need to make the most of every day. It may be a cliché, but I do think we should try to live our lives like today could be our last. At the end of the day, none of us know how much time we have left. It’s up to us to live in a way that we’re proud of and satisfied with.
I absolutely loved how this book was written and the distinct voices of both Mateo and Rufus. Both protagonists were rounded and flawed and complex, and it was so beautiful and so crushing to get to know them both and experience the last day on this world with them. They’re such different people, but the way they came together on their End Day and formed such a strong friendship in less than 24 hours was really touching. Rufus helped Mateo realise that he had to start living in the time he had before he died, and Mateo allowed Rufus to see that one mistake didn’t define who he was. These two characters were just so pure and so precious and they deserved so much longer on this Earth than the time they were given.
The insertion of chapters from the point of view of other minor characters was also really interesting to read. It was similar to The Sun is Also a Star in that aspect, and I found that they really added to the story and allowed us to see the bigger picture, rather than just an insular view into this world by reading from Mateo and Rufus’s POV. It was fascinating to see how all their stories intertwined, and while I didn’t fully understand how each character came into play when reading it for the first time, my second read was a lot more satisfying. I’ve read They Both Die at the End seven times so far, and I can guarantee it doesn’t get any less heartbreaking the more you read it.
I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface on why this book is so amazing and what made me fall in love with it in the way that I did, but if you haven’t picked up a copy yet, I urge you to do so. It’s such a phenomenal and quick read that will crush your soul in the best way possible. Rufus and Mateo deserved better and I don’t think I’ll ever forgive Adam Silvera for the way he messed with my emotions, but I will never stop recommending this novel. Just read it.
Have you read They Both Die at the End yet? Have you read any other books by Adam Silvera? Did you enjoy them? Which one is your favourite? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
We Are the Ants • The Sun is Also a Star • Aristotle & Dante