Staff Review – They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

I’d heard about this book for quite some time, but was never quite sure of the plot. The title is quite literal, so I had a good feeling it had something to do with death. “They Both Die at the End” by Adam Silvera follows two teenaged boys, Matteo and Rufus, who are both informed by Death-Cast that they are going to die by the end of the day. In this fictional world, Death Cast is a service that calls people just after midnight to inform them that sometime in the next 24 hours, they will die. They don’t tell them where, when or how, but the people they call (known as Deckers) have less than 24 hours to say their goodbyes, tie up any loose strings, and do anything they’d like to on their last day, or as it is known here, their End Day. Matteo and Rufus are complete strangers who meet using the Last Friend app – designed for people looking for someone to spend their End Day with. Together, they share a lifetime of secrets, stories and memories on their first and last day together.

This novel, as mentioned, heavily focuses on death and how you live your life. Matteo was too scared to do almost anything, and lived an incredibly sheltered and enclosed life. His mother died when he was born, and his father has been in a coma for the last two weeks. Rufus’ family died in a car accident with him present, and he has been in foster care ever since. The tragedy of his family’s passing has left a significant mark on him, as to be expected. These boys are quite opposite in how they lived their lives, but they both push each other in different ways while they share their End Day together.

The concept of Death-Cast is definitely something that readers can think pretty heavily on. Would you want to live in a world that tells you when your last day alive is? Would you take more risks in your life before that day, since you would know for sure that it wouldn’t be your last? It’s definitely a philosophical question for readers to think about as they enjoy the novel. “They Both Die at the End” also brings up questions of fate and free will. They are multiple stories in the novel of people who have received the Death-Cast call and taken specific actions because of it (ex. driving back home to be with a love one before they died) that actually are the event that ultimately kills them. If they hadn’t received the call, they wouldn’t have driven down that road, and, one would think, wouldn’t have died. There’s a lot to think about with this YA novel!

I loved the diversity in this novel! Matteo Torrez is an 18 year old Puerto Rican boy who is scared to admit things about himself, and Rufus Emeterio is a 17 year old bisexual Cuban foster child. While they are the main characters in the story, there are plenty of interesting side characters too, such as Tagoe, Rufus’s friend with a tic; Lydia, Matteo’s best friend with a new baby; Aimee, Rufus’ ex-girlfriend with a large birthmark covering much of her face, and more. It is refreshing to see so many different people in the story and how subtly their stories are weaved into the plot.

This is a beautiful story of love, loss, friendship, and the impact our lives can have on other people. It makes you want to hug your loved ones close and live everyday to the fullest. The novel is even going to become a series on HBO! If you haven’t already, pick up Adam Silvera’s “They Both Die at the End” today!

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