Book Review: “They Both Die at the End”

Alyssa Vick, Reporter

Spoiler alert: In Adam Silvera’s newest novel “They Both Die at the End”, readers are forced to evaluate their own decisions as the main characters’ mortality catches up to them.

Right from the beginning, there is no holding back. The book opens up with the main characters, Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio, receiving calls from the Death-Cast shortly after midnight. The Death-Cast (a company that lets people know when it is their last day) informs them they are both dying, and they have at most 24 hours to live their lives before they are gone.

Not wanting to be alone on their “End Day,” they meet through an app. The app called Last Friend is a way for Deckers (people who are dying) to connect with other Deckers for company on their last day.

Despite the impending doom, the book remains hopeful. Mateo and Rufus may only have 24 hours to live, but they’re going to make the most of it with the help of each other.

There’s no escaping the fact that they’re going to die. However, the book manages to remain hopeful, as if Mateo and Rufus have forever to fall in love. After all, it’s hard to imagine both of the main characters, who are crucial to the plot of the story, dying.

Nevertheless, Mateo and Rufus are overly aware of their fate.  

“It’s all going away, everyone and everything is dying,” Rufus says during a conversation about the past and future with Mateo. “Humans suck, man. We think we’re so damn indestructible and infinite because we can think and take care of ourselves, unlike pay phones or books, but I bet the dinosaurs thought they’d rule forever too.”

Much like the dinosaurs, Mateo and Rufus don’t get to rule forever, but that doesn’t hold them back. Instead, it motivates them to step outside of their comfort zones while they still can.

Silvera’s style expertly changes to reflect the point of view he’s writing from. He manages to create unique voices for each of his characters that lend to a beautifully, hopelessly hopeful story. There’s a reason Kirkus Reviews calls it “engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.”

This story alternates between Mateo’s and Rufus’ point of view, with seemingly random third person points of view mixed in. However, as the story unfolds, Silvera manages to surprise the reader–something that doesn’t seem possible with a title that gives the ending away–and shows just how interconnected everyone’s lives are.

Even so, the story is not without faults.

How the Death-Cast works is never truly explained, and minor plot holes are glossed over very briefly. For example, heralds, who are tasked with delivering the news, make calls until 3 a.m. at which point they stop for the day. This means that not every Decker receives a call, but if someone doesn’t receive a call, they assume that they are safe no matter what.

However, this isn’t crucial to the story line. By skimming over these parts, Silvera is able to focus more on the development of Mateo’s and Rufus’ storyline.

While this story does use cliches–such as love at first meeting–Silvera uses these to craft a unique story that is unlike anything else on the market. Much like the book description says, this book truly does remind readers “there’s no life without death–no love without loss.”

“They Both Die at the End” is currently available for $17.99 and is worth every penny. I would give it four out of five stars. Even with its flaws, it is a beautifully haunting tale that reminds us to make the most of our lives because unlike the characters in the book, we don’t know when our last day is. Therefore, I urge everyone to pick this book up today and give it a chance right now because you might not have a tomorrow.