I’ve never had a problem with spoilers. Whether I find out the big twist or the ending of something before the fact or as I’m consuming it, I still react emotionally when I get there. This is part of the reason why I’m so intrigued by Adam Silvera’s They Both Die at the End. I mean, he gives away the ending in the title. There is no way a book with a title like that has a happy ending, and yet I wanted to read it anyway. So I kept my tissues close and dove in.
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.
Well, this book hit me right in the feels. I laughed, I cried…and I gasped more than once.
The first thing I’m going to speak to is the fact that the title is a big, fat spoiler. I knew from the get-go that the main characters were going to die, and yet when the inevitable happened, I was still shocked. It’s almost as though Silvera upped the stakes by telling everyone how the book was going to end, because, as a reader, you’re constantly wondering if this is going to be the thing that ends their lives. It’s horribly depressing, but utterly brilliant, too.
Not only was it refreshing to have the main characters be LGBTQ and minorities (and have no one make a big deal about it), but it was such a believable, touching love story—though truncated, obviously. Both Matteo and Rufus are adorable (I just want to hug them and assure them that everything will be okay), and I saw a lot of myself in Matteo’s innocence and selflessness (okay, maybe I saw a lot of the person I want to be… ha!) Getting both points of view throughout the story really showed the reader how these two fell for each other and how they were good for one another and changed for the better. I read that originally the whole story was told from Matteo’s POV, but I’m glad Silvera changed his mind—Rufus’ thoughts were an integral part of the story. And I enjoyed the intermittent chapters featuring secondary characters. It really made the ending something I hadn’t seen before.
Silvera built the perfect world around this unbelievable advancement in technology (it’s literally not possible) but made it convincing. His teenaged characters are believable, flawed teenagers (they’re not especially eloquent or naive, which I find some writers tend to lean on when writing younger characters) and they act the way a lot of teenagers would if they found out it was their last day on Earth. And it made me question what I would do if I knew, for certain, that I was spending my last day alive. This quick YA read really wraps itself in some deep thought, for sure.
Food for thought
I’m going to keep this one short and sweet (well, maybe more like short and depressing). What would you do on your last day, if you knew for certain it had arrived?
“Twelve hours ago I received the phone call telling me I’m going to die today, and I’m more alive now than I was then.” —Adam Silvera, They Both Die at the End
Thank you to Aron Visuals on Unsplash for the featured photo of time running out.