Title: They Both Die at the End
Author: Adam Silvera
Length: 8.5 hours
Narrator: Michael Crouch, Robbie Daymond, Bahni Turpin
Original Publication Date: 2017
Genre(s): Young adult, LGBT, Contemporary
“No matter how we decide to live, we both die at the end.”
Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio both receive a call from Death-Cast early into September 5. Death-Cast notifies them they will both die within the next 24 hours, and encourage them to live their last day to the fullest. Mateo is alone at home, too afraid to take a step outside into the world that’s going to kill him today; Rufus, on the other hand, is already out and about, but for all the wrong reasons. Today, both boys want to make a change, and they can help each other do that. Though strangers, there’s an app to connect Deckers (people who receive the Death-Cast call) with someone—a Last Friend on their End Day. And this is how Mateo and Rufus meet, become friends, and spend their last day.
If you know me, you know I do all my audiobook listening at work. I left yesterday with about 3 hours left in the book, and decided to finish it at home. I had this crazy premonition that the book was going to end sadly. Super weird, right? Well, anyway, it’s a good thing I finished it at home, because I legit sobbed the last hour. My girlfriend definitely thinks I’m crazy…
Basically, the premise of the story is this: there is a mysterious company called Death-Cast that, somehow, knows when everyone will die. They don’t know (or claim not to know) the hows or whys, but they do know the when within a 24-hour time frame. So, every day, Death-Cast calls the unlucky people between midnight and 3AM notifying them of their impending doom. And then those people try to cram a lifetime within the few hours they have left.
The story is told in third-person omniscient and mainly follows Mateo and Rufus on their End Day. The story does occasionally switch to various other characters in the same city as the MCs, kind of giving us a “whole picture” look at the world. These segments are usually very short, and though I disliked the multiple perspectives at first, I actually grew to love them in a way. Everything was interconnected and mind-blowing. Every character had a purpose. And the further into the story—the closer we get to Mateo and Rufus’s death—the more anxiety-inducing these other perspectives become.
Mostly, though, the story is about Mateo and Rufus, two of the very best characters in literature (in my opinion). Mateo is so me… He’s a book nerd, a video game lover, and a messy ball of anxiety. When he gets the call from Death-Cast, he’s asleep, and the call wakes him. Though I think he fears missing out, his fear of dying, or embarrassing himself, or any number of things, causes him to stay away from everything and everyone. In fact, he almost spends his last day on Earth inside his bedroom. Comfortable, but underwhelming. Especially for an End Day.
Rufus is quite the opposite. When he gets the Death-Cast call, he’s in the middle of…some shady business, which causes me to instantly dislike him. But the kid has had it rough, and he makes a mistake, one that will haunt him all day long. But Rufus isn’t afraid of death, because he hasn’t been afraid to live. And slowly, I start to fall in love with Rufus, too.
The two meet up after signing up for an app called Last Friend. Mateo needs someone to break him out of his shell (and his room); Rufus needs someone to keep him company, since his funeral he planned for himself kind of fell apart and, oh yeah, the cops are kind of after him.
So the story is about death, but it’s also about living. And I think it’s not only an interesting concept for a book, but also a fascinating look at the reader, too. Like, the book literally gives the ending way: both Rufus and Mateo will die at the end of the book. Got it. Okay. Then the entire story is literally about the boys getting the call, accepting the outcome, and trying to spend their last hours as best they can. Okay. Still dying. Got it. And yet… And yet the entire time I was reading, I kept thinking, Nah, they got this, they’re going to be okay. They won’t die at the end. Like ?????????????? HE JUST TOLD US A THOUSAND TIMES THEY DIE AT THE END. But my poor little heart kept hoping until the very last page.
“When someone puts their journey out there for you to watch, you pay attention, even if you know they’ll die at the end.”
So not only am I hoping they survive even though I know they don’t, I was also ridiculously anxious about the how. Because death isn’t pretty, or painless, or romantic. Death sucks. And I loved these characters with all my heart, and I didn’t want them to die horrific, tragic deaths, and with each chapter I became more and more anxious. It was awful. And I’m not kidding when I said I sobbed for the entire last hour of the book. Seriously, do not finish this book in public.
So yeah, I loved this book. A lot. I couldn’t sleep because I finished it right before bed and was too sad to sleep. Then I woke up today sad because I remembered it. And now I’m sad writing this because it’s over and I’m still sad and craving more. I highly recommend this book to everyone on the planet. It really gets you thinking about your own mortality and, if you’re like me, your deep dark fear about missing out but also your fear of living.
If anyone needs me, I’ll be hiding in my room like Mateo, crying for fictional characters that truly touched my heart. Sorry this review is a mess. I am a mess.
–“You may be born into a family, but you walk into friendships. Some you’ll discover you should put behind you. Others are worth every risk.”
–“No one goes on, but what we leave behind keeps us alive for someone else.”
–“Yes, we live, or we’re given the chance to, at least, but sometimes living is hard and complicated because of fear.”