Book Review: They Both Die at the End

In an alternate present-day New York City, Mateo and Rufus both receive the same call from Death-Cast in the early morning hours, letting them know they’ll be dead by midnight. The two teens have never met, but when they connect on the Last Friend app, they set out to help each other pack the experiences of a lifetime into one last day and form a deep bond that soon goes beyond friendship.

Adam Silvera, bestselling author of More Happy Than Not and History Is All You Left Me, delivers a thought-provoking story about two boys who seize one final opportunity to change their lives. The premise—that we should embrace every day because we don’t know many we’ve got left—may be trite, but Silvera’s take on the cliché is anything but. He renders every moment of their last day with such honesty that readers will feel as though they’re experiencing the same terror, anger and even joy Mateo and Rufus feel as they prowl the city together.

It’s a risky move, letting the reader know from the get-go that the main characters won’t make it. But these protagonists are impossible to hold at arm’s length; Mateo’s crippling shyness and Rufus’ temper are sure to resonate with readers. Both boys are hyperaware of their own shortcomings, but they’re also bound and determined to overcome their insecurities and live as their ideal selves during their final hours. They Both Die at the End is impossible to put down, and it’s sure to inspire readers to think about the people they want to be.

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This article was originally published in the September 2017 issue of BookPage.

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