Book Review: They Both Die at the End


Cover of the novel

Ashley Park

Adam Silvera’s They Both Die at the End is a realistic fiction novel that, although was released on September 5, 2017, went viral on TikTok, a popular social media platform, in recent months.
The story follows two, late teens Mateo and Rufus, who had been leading very different lives up until one fateful night. They receive identical alerts from Death Cast, a program responsible for informing people of their deaths within 24 hours. Mateo, a homebody, and Rufus, who had found himself running from the police on his last day to live, both alone, downloaded an app called “Last Friends.” Through this app, they were able to connect with other Deckers- a term that refers to those who got their Death Cast calls and had less than 24 hours to live- and more importantly, had found each other. The boys spent every remaining moment of their End Day together, and although they had several near-death experiences, one in particular including a gang and a gun, they were able to connect with each other in a way they never have with others.
Silvera was clearly going for an “opposites attract” theme for the two protagonists of this story, which I think was incorporated well into their characters. They balanced each other out and allowed for the other to explore out of his comfort zone for the day. Mateo experienced a handful of adventures thanks to Rufus, meanwhile Rufus was able to open up to Mateo about tragedies from his past and got some closure as a result. Their relationship was very easy to follow and watching them grow closer and even develop feelings for the other made their expected fate all the more devastating.
The book recently blew up on TikTok, an application through which videos made by people of any ages (with a heavy emphasis on teenagers) circulate, and gained a lot of traction. While looking through “BookTok,” the hashtag on TikTok that contains book recommendations and reviews, I noticed that They Both Die at the End was very frequently mentioned, despite its release being in 2017. I personally discovered this book through the promotions of several TikTok creators, and I found that a handful of my friends had as well.
Silvera’s novel was absolutely an enjoyable and entertaining read. It has such a unique concept that hasn’t been explored or experimented with as much. However, a handful of people found that some scenes went on for a little longer than they had to- an opinion that I could honestly agree with. It took forty pages for Mateo to even leave his bedroom in the beginning chapters, which caused me to not have as much liking nor interest in Part One of the book. I strongly agree with this review left by a reader with the name Hailey on Goodreads: “I found that it did drag a little bit at times, definitely more of a slow going read but it was such an interesting concept and I think it was very well executed.”
The formatting for the chapters of They Both Die at the End had the narrative jump from different characters. For example, one chapter would be written from Mateo’s perspective, another would be Rufus’ point of view, and the next would be some key, background character’s. Although this kind of book organization can be hard to follow and too confusing for many people, Silvera was able to maintain and write in this format without losing the audience. In fact, I believe that, due to the fact that the book was written in this way, more readers can stay engaged with the story and pick up important details scattered throughout the different chapters.
Silvera wove a tale that connected well until the end, and I definitely find They Both Die at the End to be a quick and fun novel that I had found my nose buried in. He took a more original approach and turned it into a story that included many moments of laughter and tears with beautiful emotions in between.