Top positive review
Simple yet Elegant
Reviewed in India on 31 December 2017
For a book dealing with topics such as death, this was neither as depressing nor as deep as I'd thought it would be. Then well, this book wasn't anything I'd expected. The story follows Mateo and Rufus who are called by Death-Cast 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.
“But no matter what choices we make - solo or together - our finish line remains the same … No matter how we choose to live, we both die at the end.”
It sounded like an extremely powerful read and yet They Both Die At The End had far less of an emotional impact on me unlike Silvera's debut novel More Happy Than Not. While that book had me gripped with emotion, huge chunks of this book were very slow.
Even though, this was such a great concept and idea, I felt that if more work was put into it, it could've been way better. I loved all the characters who were carefully weaved and how they were dealing with their own deaths and lives yet I think that there could've been so much more. We are already spoiled by the blurb about the start of the book and the title further spoils the ending for us. Very little actually happens that we don't know before starting the book.
The main characters, Rufus and Mateo are polar opposites and yet similar. This was one aspect of the book I really liked. As always Adam's characters actually sound like teens which is a knack many authors in YA genre lack (Rufus in me: that rhymes). Rufus was a character who excelled in maintaining the correct balance between depth and comedy. He was definitely my personal favorite. Mateo is a small precious little bean who deserves to be wrapped in bubble wrap and preserved. But well, as you have been spoiled from the title he dies (Rufus's dark humor is affecting me).
The writing style of the book also reminded me of one of my favorites from 2017: Sun Is Also A Star. This was the inclusion of random chapters from other characters' perspectives. In between Mateo's and Rufus's story, we get a brief glimpse into the lives of many other characters. There's something about this that I love - the suggestion that no character is throwaway, that even though some characters are not central to the story being told, they all have their own lives and stories going on. It also gave us a lot of insight into how Death-Cast has affected others.
World-building was my one real issue. I would have liked more explanation or building around Death-Cast and how it works. The concept was incredibly interesting and unique, and I would have loved to see it expanded on. However, this aside I did like the culture and ideas around the idea of End-Days, and I felt it was incredibly realistic of what it would be like if this was real. The way that society is dealing with the burden gave the story another layer of depth, and I really liked the way that all the individual storylines within the book all intertwined throughout the world.
To reiterate, I'd say that this book was definitely a one time read and it's worth giving it a chance if you like LGBT+ books or want to start reading it. And Adam Silvera, of course, is a genius and a GREAT writer. His writing is raw and rich and it'll grab you by the heartstrings from page one, and then won't let go- not even when you close the book.