They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
I appreciate the boldness of an author who will straight up tell the reader what to expect from his book right on the cover - They Both Die at the End. Guess what? Both main characters, Mateo and Rufus do, indeed, die at the end of this book. But they do a lot of living before that end.
When both Mateo and Rufus get the call from Death-Cast telling them they will die before the day is over, for different reasons, they both decide to reach out to the Last Friend app. Rufus gathered his “family” together at their shared home they call Pluto and held a funeral for himself. It was everything he wanted until the cops showed up. Now, Rufus is on the run after a rushed goodbye to those closest to him. He reaches out to the Last Friend app to find someone to spend his last day with since his friends are no longer an option. Mateo rarely leaves his bedroom, suffers from anxiety, and his father is hospitalized, in a coma. Any living Mateo does is mostly through his X-Box. He decides that lying in bed all day playing X-Box would be a pretty pathetic way to spend the last day of his life so he pulls up the Last Friend app. Rufus and Mateo find each other and agree that they need to cut through the BS, find a connection, and have the best last day possible. They do. The two have instant chemistry and talk deeply, visit people and places that need to be visited, seek out adventurous experiences, and, finally, find love in each other.
Like he did in More Happy Than Not, author, Adam Silvera uses a speculative fiction device (in MHTN it was a drug that would make you forget previous experiences) to explore human nature and, in this novel, our fear of death. I loved how, although death seemed to be the central theme of the book, the actual focus was living. I see what you did there, Adam Silvera. Mateo and Rufus are lovable characters. The POVs of the side characters who know Rufus and Mateo give the reader a full picture of their personalities. The POVs of characters unrelated to Mateo and Rufus but have interactions with them on this last day (either directly or indirectly) through Death-Cast, the Last Friend app, and other Decker services (Deckers are those that received the call from Death-Cast), give the reader a more complete picture of the themes of life and death. They Both Die in the End is one of those everything-happens-in-one-day kind of books which works perfectly for this storyline. Although you’ve braced yourself for the end, you’re still not prepared for the painful close of the lives of these characters you’ve grown to love over 370 pages.
Favorite descriptive detail: When Rufus starts posting his Instagram photos in color instead of his trademark black and white <3.
I’m excited to hear Adam Silvera speak at the ALAN Workshop in St. Louis next week! Maybe I’ll get a pic with him to add to the blog. Fingers crossed.