Title // They Both Die at the End
Author // Adam Silvera
Publication Date // 2017
Publisher // Simon and Schuster
Readership // Young Adult
Genre // Speculative Fiction
Rating // ✭✭✭
When Mateo receives the dreaded call from Death-Cast, informing him that today will be his last, he doesn’t know where to begin. Quiet and shy, Mateo is devastated at the thought of leaving behind his hospitalised father, and his best friend and her baby girl. But he knows that he has to make the most of this day, it’s his last chance to get out there and make an impression.
Rufus is busy beating up his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend when he gets the call. Having lost his entire family, Rufus is no stranger to Death-Cast. Not that it makes it any easier. With bridges to mend, the police searching for him and the angry new boyfriend on his tail, it’s time to run.
Isolated and scared, the boys reach out to each other, and what follows is a day of living life to the full. Though neither of them had expected that this would involve falling in love…
Another beautiful, heartbreaking and life-affirming book from the brilliant Adam Silvera, author of More Happy Than Not and History Is All You Left Me.
Adam Silvera is a much loved young adult author and They Both Die at the End is the first of his books that I’ve read. It’s one of those books that had so much hype built up around it prior to release that it was easy to get swept up by the energy. I had no plans to read the book, except it was The YA Room’s book of the month and I like that the book club challenges me to read books I might not otherwise read.
It’s a good book, but it’s not a favourite of mine, and I’m going to try and explain why.
The first place is the title: They Both Die at the End.
How’s it going to end? We’ve been told that and as such, connecting with any of the main characters became a really difficult, because I’m trying to connect with characters that the title has told me will (most likely) die at the end of the story. I found it really challenging to become emotionally invested in the characters as a result, and possibly a lot more interested in all the side-characters that we meet, especially the friends and family of main characters Mateo and Rufus.
I understand that my reaction is not the same as others; plenty of people connected with Mateo and Rufus and had their emotions put through the ringer as a result. Perhaps it speaks to the kind of reader I am and the kinds of stories I prefer? Either way, it’s not the fault of the author, but more a reaction to how I am a reader, which is completely fine.
The story itself is set-up in much the same way as The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon, and reading They Both Die at the End I couldn’t help making comparisons, especially from the ‘all-in-one-day’ time frame (which does lend a sense of urgency to the plot) and the inclusion of POVs from smaller characters to build the world around the two boys.
I was also fascinated by DeathCast. (Not to be confused with wanting to live in a world where DeathCast exists, because I really don’t.) There’s little information given about DeathCast, except that it exists and people accept its’ existence. This is mostly a writing style choice – the story is told in first person, so we only know what the characters know – and there’s a simplicity in simply accepting something.
(It’s when you try and pick it apart that you start to see the holes, but that’s an entirely different discussion. To have fully fleshed out DeathCast, Silvera would have had to have written a completely different book.)
My own personal disconnect from the emotional connection I was supposed to form as a reader made this one of those books that I’ll shelve as good book, good read but won’t make it up there on my favourites. The writing is great, Silvera has a great way with characters and relationships and I can see why other people really enjoyed this book.
Overall, I rated They Both Die at the End 3 out of 5 stars.