ARC/Book Review: They Both Die at the End – Adam Silvera

Title: They Both Die at the End (2017)
Author: Adam Silvera
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Extent: 384 pages
Release Date: September 5, 2017
Rating: ★★★★☆

Goodreads Description

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.

Review

I should’ve known what I was getting into with this book. I mean, with a title like They Both Die at the End, what else can you expect but to be thrown right into Heartbreak Central? As it turns out, however, there’s quite a little bit more in the story rather than tears and sadness — I think it’s what Adam Silvera does best. 😉

They Both Die at the End takes place over one day where Mateo and Rufus, two complete strangers, spend their last hours alive together. As each other’s Last Friend, they take turns doing whatever they can to make their last day meaningful. They say goodbyes to their family and friends. They travel the world and go skydiving in virtual reality. They eat their last meals. You know it: it’s pretty damn sad. And morbid. But mostly sad.

“Death is inevitable for everyone and it’s absolute for me today.”

For a book that happens in the span of a day, They Both Die really takes its time in picking up the pace. It took me a while to get into the story or to feel connected to the characters, but this was not an issue at all — the premise alone was interesting enough to keep me going and asks tough questions about life and death. What would you do if you know for sure you’re going to die? What does it mean to really live? 🤔

I was somewhat worried that one day is too little space for any realistic, believable character development to happen, but I honestly shouldn’t have worried. Mateo and Rufus are characters I’ve never encountered before but I’m immediately familiar with, and reading their interactions throughout the day, grief-filled as they are, was so worth it. They’ve got such distinctive personalities, but they each got something out of their time together.

“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.”

One of my major gripes with They Both Die is in the world-building… in that it lacks it, in my opinion. I personally love thinking about the different ways death could be dealt with in the future (see: Neal Shusterman’s Scythe), and this book is so centred on the internal emotions and thoughts that I found it lacking setting-wise. We never found out how, when or why Death-Cast does things this way, and that would’ve been such an interesting angle to take.

The other reason why this book didn’t get the full five stars for me is that despite how creative I think the premise is and how interesting it was to read from different characters’ perspectives (not just Mateo’s or Rufus’s), the multi-POV approach more often than not takes away from my reading experience. I didn’t feel connected to any of these peripheral characters and reading their chapters gave me an unneeded ‘break’ from the main storyline. No matter how sad everything is, my emotions never really reached a climax and consequently, the ending felt rushed. 🙈

“Here’s my version of Utopia: a world without violence and tragedies, where everyone lives forever, or until they’ve led fulfilling and happy lived and decide themselves that they want to check out whatever’s next for us.”

They Both Die at the End is the kind of book that I read to really put myself in the characters’ shoes, mostly because of the intriguing premise. This is the kind of book that got me thinking and reflecting about my own life, wondering what I would do in a world like Mateo and Rufus’s. It’s the kind of book that I would recommend for that experience alone, because while books are a plenty, not all books can do that. 💙

* I received an ARC of THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END from the publisher via NetGalley.

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11 thoughts on “ARC/Book Review: They Both Die at the End – Adam Silvera

  1. Such a lovely review, Reg ❤ I'm really glad to hear you ended up loving this book, despite the lack of world-building. It could have been very interesting to explore this more, I agree! I'm really impatient to read this book;..someday, when I'm ready for all of the emotions, obviously 🙂

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  2. I was not surprised to read that setting-wise the book was lacking, because Adam Silvera truly shines at emotions and the characters themselves. Still, it’s a shame, but I do believe that probably was his intention. I really want to read this, but I’m not prepared yet 😛
    Great review as always 😉

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    • So true! I probably should’ve had less specific expectations in regards to the setting… but to be honest, characterisation was pitch perfect as could be, and this is definitely the kind of book you read for the characters rather than everything else. 😉

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  3. I skimmed through most of this review Reg. I haven’t read They Both Die at the End yet but it’s one of my most anticipated releases so I want to go into it blind, with no expectations whatsoever. 🙂
    I am glad to see you enjoyed this book though, it sounds amazing and as it’s by Adam Silvera I know it’s going to be the kind of book that breaks my heart. Once I’ve finished this book I’ll come back and read your review properly, I’m sure it’s a great review though. 😀

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    • Thank you, Beth. ❤

      And yeees, for sure. I skipped History is All You Left Me because that sounds even sadder, but Silvera does characterisation and heartbreaking stuff really well, so I have faith that you'll like it, expectations or no. I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts after you read it!

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      • That’s all right. 🙂
        Well I can’t say for sure but of the two Adam Silvera books I’ve read History is All You Left Me was definitely safer, but at the same time it had a more hopeful ending. Well this is one I certainly hope I enjoy, thanks Reg. 🙂

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  4. The title of the book is enough to intimidate me but I’m glad to know that it’s not all doom and gloom. It’s a shame that the setting wasn’t as fleshed out as it could have been and while I love exploring the emotional component I think that having an understanding of the world would have heightened those emotions. I definitely plan on giving this book a chance, I’ll just have to prepare myself for all the emotions.

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    • It’s definitely not all doom and gloom. I’m not going to lie, there is doom and there is gloom… but I really enjoyed the concept and how it all came around in the end. Can’t wait for you to read it, tbh. The emotions are worth it, I promise. ❤

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