Title: They Both Die At The End
Author: Adam Silvera
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary/magical realism(?)
Publication date: September 5th, 2017
On September 5, a little after midnight, DeathCast 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.
In They Both Die At The End, Adam Silvera reminds us that life cannot exist without death, and love cannot exist without pain.
The book is set in a contemporary New York City in 2017. However: one element is different from this world compared to our own. The existence of DeathCast, an organisation that figured out when people are going to die and calls them on their ‘End Day’ to let them know.
The story opens with Mateo, that gets the infamous call. Almost instantly you feel sorry for him, because Mateo understandably doesn’t feel like his life is finished, as he’s still a teenager. Mateo doesn’t have much of a social life and downloads the Last Friend app. He gets a few messages from people that are up to no good – I liked that Silvera took the time to explore the sociocultural constructions of society and life around his alternate reality. There were a lot of things available for consumption around the Death-Cast app which made it feel that much more realistic.
Then the story then starts switching POV’s when Rufus comes in the picture. By the way, I haven’t seen many people talk about this but Rufus says a lot of ‘yo’ and ‘we out’ in this book, which I guess is to make him sound more ‘hood’? It felt forced and stereotypical. Mateo and Rufus meet up and start hanging out, knowing that for the both of them, this is their last chance to do what they want, say goodbye to loved ones and tie loose ends together.
“Maybe it’s better to have gotten it right and been happy for one day instead of living a lifetime of wrongs.”
This book doesn’t have a plot, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t much depth. While reading, you witness the relationship between the two boys grow and evolve from a friendship into a romance. Although I didn’t think the romance was super convincing, I did enjoy the dynamic between our two empathetic heroes. Each individual character also develops, especially Mateo. However, I found his character development over the top and unrealistic. At the beginning of the day he is a shy boy with no social life and at the end of the day he’s dancing around with strangers.
Then there were the random chapters from side character that didn’t have a point. Seriously, even in the last third of the book we were introduced to new characters with stories that were never resolved nor had anything to do with the basic plotline. I’m still not sure what the point of Delilah’s storyline was.
So, in the end, there were things I liked and things I disliked. I liked how fleshed out and complex our main characters were and how there was bisexual/gay representation as well as people of color. I’m also a sucker for books that show the sensitive side of male characters. I liked Mateo and Rufus’ dynamic but I wasn’t sold on the way their relationship developed. I enjoyed reading the book, but I never connected enough with the characters to really feel empathetic to what was happening to them.