Of all the young adult novels I have read in my life, this one obviously provides the most spoilers in the title. So yes, we have two main characters who both die at the end. Why keep on reading then? Maybe because, as a very popular meme across the internet says, one day we all die, but on all the other days, we will live.
Unfortunately, Mateo and Rufus do not get ‘all the other days’ to live, they only get one. Their last. Adam Silvera’s novel is a dystopia, in which everyone gets a phone call 24 hours before they die. If this sounds familiar from horror movies, know that it does not follow the same plot. You don’t get some monster chasing you after the phone call, you just know you’ll hit the bucket at some point in the next 24 hours, no idea how, no idea when, exactly.
Since the title is already enough of a spoiler, I will not concentrate on specific actions or much of the plot because yes, there is an app allowing you to find one last friend, and yes, both friends have sad life stories and yes, there is no happy ending, but that’s not of utmost importance. What really makes a difference is how reading this book makes you feel.
Do you have a bucket list? Have you ever wondered what you would do if you knew today was your last day? That there are no doctors that can cure you, no rabbit that you can pull out of the hat, no kung-fu move that could save you from death? This is what the novel is about.
It’s about introverts facing their fears, about people looking for the adrenaline rush they have always wanted to experience, about protecting their loved ones, about sharing and caring, about trusting somebody whom you’ve only just met.
There is no tomorrow so you do see a lot of regrets, obviously. This is about two teenagers who will never grow into adult life. One will never be an architect and the other one will never be a travel blogger and they both can’t help but wonder how that would be like.
We’re humans and we’re always planning ahead. Always worrying about how work will stress us out tomorrow, how our kids need money for school, how we have to strive harder if we want that brand new car, how next summer is definitely going to be better because we will finally go on that trip we’ve always dreamt of. But the truth is, tomorrow is not granted and Mateo and Rufus act as a wake-up call to the reader. Whatever you want to do, do it now, live now, because the present moment is all you ever have. This is the strongest message and be it only for this, ‘They Both Die at the End’ is definitely a good read.
P.S. One last spoiler: For a work of fiction, the Instagram account mentioned at the end of the book seems real enough.