Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Teen/YA Review: They Both Die At the End

I've been hearing rave reviews of the teen/YA novel They Both Die At the End by Adam Silvera since its release last fall, so I was glad to have a chance to listen to it on audio last week. This warm, moving, original story lived up to all its hype.

In the near-future, people are informed by Death-Cast, calling between midnight and 3 am, that they will die that day. This has given rise to a whole new vernacular, with Deckers being those who've been informed, a Twitter-like social media site called CountDowners, and an app called Last Friend. At the start of this novel that takes place in a 24-hour period, both Mateo and Rufus get the call from Death-Cast. For various reasons, they are each separated from their friends and family and reach out on Last Friend, where they find each other (after some humorous mismatches on both parts). The two boys, both 18 or nearly so, meet up in the early morning hours and spend their last day together wandering around New York City together. Along the way, they have some necessary stops to make - at the hospital to visit Mateo's dad, for instance - but they both also want to make this last day count. Rufus has lived a pretty good life, though his past year has been filled with personal tragedy, but Mateo is a shy, introverted guy who feels like this is his last chance to really live - and Rufus is happy to help him. The two young men form a surprisingly strong connection in that day, for two people who started out as strangers.

I know this premise sounds incredibly depressing - and it is sad to witness two young lives cut short - but the story is also uplifting, moving, and sometimes even funny. Witnessing this close bond form between Mateo and Rufus in such a short time is heartwarming, as if they both find exactly what they need in the other. Their day together is a mix of tying up loose ends and saying good-bye with living for the moment and enjoying their last hours. Chapters alternate between their two viewpoints, but other perspectives are also woven into the story - some other Deckers informed that day and some people who will cross paths with Mateo and Rufus in unexpected ways. It was wonderful on audio, with different first-person narrators for the two boys helping to immerse you in the story. I came to love Rufus and Mateo and root for them to make the most of their last day in this compelling and wholly unique novel about life, love, and loss.

384 pages, HarperTeen

Listen to a sample of the audio from the beginning of the novel, starting with Mateo's narration.

Purchase They Both Die At the End from an indie bookstore:
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit

Or order They Both Die At the End from Book Depository, with free shipping worldwide.


  1. I keep hearing good things about this book so I have got to read it. There are just too many wonderful books out there.

    1. Yes, I know!! I can never get to all the books I WANT to read. I definitely recommend this one - totally unique.