If you had one day to live, what would you do? This story is an honest and unafraid portrayal of two teens who had to make that decision — and all I can say is wow! They Both Die At The End is one of the most amazing books I’ve read this year — maybe ever. I knew from the title that this book was going to hurt my heart — and it did. As I listened to the audiobook, at one point, I found myself standing in the middle of the kitchen with tears streaming down my face. But the ride was so worth it.
The blurb is as follows:
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—to live a lifetime in a single day.
Image, if you will, a world in the not-so-distant future in which everyone knows the day they are going to die. A public service called “Death-Cast” is charged with telephoning anyone — between the hours of midnight and 3:00 — who is going to die within the next 24 hours. No details are given except that each person is encouraged to live out their last day the best they can.
Such is the setting for “They Both Die At The End.” Shortly after midnight, two teens, Mateo and Rufus, each receive the dreaded Death-Cast phone call telling them that within the next 24 hours, they are going to die. What follows is how they decide to live their last day on earth.
The Last Friend App
There is an app available called “The Last Friend App” in which Deckers (the name given to those who’ve received their Death-Cast call) can find each other and if they so choose, opt to spend their last day together. Though both Mateo and Rufus have loved ones, outside circumstances intervene to keep them apart, so instead they reach out to each other via the app. Once they meet in person, they make the decision to spend their last hours with each other and help each other to face their fears and say goodbye.
As the two get to know each other, we learn more about their past and what brought them to this particular point in their lives. Rufus is a tough street-kid whose entire family drowned. Mateo lost his mother early in life, and his father is currently in the hospital in a coma. It’s also worth mentioning that Mateo appears to be afraid of the world, perhaps suffering from social anxiety and does his best not to leave the safety of his apartment.
What I loved most about these two characters is how they bring out the best in each other and support each other when situations or emotions become challenging.
The One Day
Though each other, they discover parts of themselves they thought they’d lost and this realization encourages them even more to live their last day to the fullest. The story isn’t simply a day in the life of two Deckers; rather, it is a progression as each boy learns to truly savor life perhaps for the first time ever – and in the process, they come together in the most beautiful way.
In the one day that they found each other, they experience joy, sadness, loss, a couple of terrifying near-death situations and love; and in so doing, these two boys experience a profound connection to the world around them and each other.
The Other Stories
There are several minor characters that connect (or nearly connect) with Mateo and Rufus during their day together, outlining nicely how we’re connected to others and how they, in turn, are connected to us. Silvera does an excellent job of weaving these intertwining stories together and demonstrating the importance and significance of even the minor events and interactions in our lives.
Yes, this book is heartbreaking and you’ll most likely tear up (if not ugly cry) in several places throughout the book. They Both Die At The End is a haunting book and will stay with you for awhile. It’s been over a week since I’ve read it and I’ve thought about it every day since then. I think that this is one of those life-changing stories that after reading it, can make you view the world differently. In this way, it’s a hopeful book that makes you want to get out there and drink as much as you can from the cup of life while you still can.
Regardless of the title, this isn’t the story of how two boys die, but about how they live once they find each other; so in this way, it’s not about dying but rather about living. It’s a gentle reminder that no matter what we do, we’re all going to “die at the end” so why not make the most of the life we are experiencing now?
I thought the premise of this story was brilliant. The creative and original character-driven plot kept me interested each step along with way and I couldn’t help but hope that somehow, Rufus and Mateo would escape their fate and NOT both die at the end of their 24-hour adventure (but you’ll have to read it to find out).
This bittersweet story is so beautifully written that I’m still amazed by the effect that it had on me. I laughed in places; I cried in others. And the endearing, honest characters of Rufus and Mateo pulled me in and held me fast until the very end. I could relate to both of them in several different ways, sometimes uncomfortably so. Through Rufus and Mateo, we receive lessons about courage, growth, friendship and daring to take chances. You can’t help but fall in love with both of them. I know I did.
After this novel, Adam Silver is definitely on my “insta-buy” list (I also loved his book “History Is All You Left Me”, another emotional rollercoaster ride) as this book is a definite 5-star read for me. So I thank you, Adam Silvera, for this beautiful heartfelt story. Recommended!!
You can check out “They Both Die At The End” HERE