Bookish Wednesday: They Both Die at the End


What if, one day at midnight, you get a call with the following message:

“I regret to inform you that sometime in the next twenty-four hours you’ll be meeting an untimely death.”

Twenty-four hours to achieve everything you ever wanted in life. Twenty-four hours to figure out who you are and become yourself. Twenty-four hours to live all the dreams you ever had, to make good memories, and feel satisfied with your existence.

It sounds awful, right?

This is exactly the idea behind They Both Die at the End, a young-adult novel by New York Times bestselling author, Adam Silvera. What brought my attention to this book was its interesting title. While reading it, I kept hoping that the title wasn’t actually true, but the end was exactly as expected. That doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt any less.

Set in an alternate universe, the story begins when Puerto Rican Mateo Torrez and Cuban-American Rufus Emeterio receive a call from Death-Cast. Death-Cast is a company that warns you about your death, so you and your friends and family can prepare for it, and enjoy your last day alive while you wait for the inevitable. You get the chance to plan your funeral and even decide what would you like written on your tombstone. For Mateo and Rufus, both teenagers, this means their lives are over before they have begun.

They come together through the Last Friend app, which connects you with another user and you get to spend your last day on Earth with a friend. When they meet, Mateo and Rufus share an instant connection—any moment during the day they will both die. They decide to fit in a whole lifetime of experiences in just 24 hours and to truly live to the fullest on their last day.

Mateo is a sweet and innocent character who is used to staying in the background of things and out of trouble most of the time. He barely has any friends, and his only family member, his father, is in a coma. He realizes that all his life leading up to that moment has been a series of wasted opportunities, and now he has less than a day to make valuable memories. On the other hand, there’s Rufus, an orphan with a sad past who’s part of a gang. He’s a bit rough around the edges, and harder to connect with. But, as their friendship develops, you get attached to their youthful hopefulness in midst of an unfortunate situation.

Not only does the reader learn about Mateo and Rufus’ experiences, there are more characters who receive the call on the same day, and we learn their stories along the way. One fault that the book has is that it doesn’t explain the mystery behind Death-Cast, and how they get the information on people’s death day. But, I believe is this way because we are supposed to be more focused on the characters’ relationships than the world-building.

Not only does this book have an interesting premise, but it features queer characters from diverse backgrounds. The ending, even though you’re aware of it from the start, still grips at your heart, and you can’t help but desperately cry for these two boys.

Images acquired from Goodreads and Amazon.