There are books that make you laugh.
There are books that make you cry.
Then there are books that throw you into an existential angst, leaving you gripped by a great and terrible fear of your own mortality.
Or maybe that only happens to paranoid shut-ins like me, I’m not sure. In any case, it’s been a long time since I’ve been as moved by a book as I was by They Both Die at the End. Silvera introduces us to two young men (boys, really), Mateo and Rufus, who have both learned through the service called DeathCast that their next 24 hours will be their last. First thought: whose terrible idea was this, and why isn’t there a way to opt out? But never mind that. The boys meet through an app called Last Friend, both of them facing their ends alone for different reasons.
The story that follows is, quite simply, beautiful. The boys live their final day taking risks they’ve never taken before, though Mateo adamantly refuses to risk hopping on Rufus’s bike. Along the way we meet a cast of characters, doomed and not, who the boys encounter throughout the day. Each has their own approach to death that forces you to think about things in ways you might not have before. What does it mean to face your own end? How has your life affected those around you? Do you live this day like any other, or do you paint the town red?
Knowing that both Mateo and Rufus will die at the end (it’s in the title, after all) doesn’t affect the suspense at all. How will it happen? When will it happen? Will it come as a surprise, or will they have time to compose themselves and face it down? Will they go together, or separately? When the time comes it manages to pack a punch, leaving you screaming “SWEET CINNAMON ROLL, NO!” Or maybe, again, that was just me.
I cried like a baby. Not just at The End, either. There were so many profound moments scattered throughout the novel. There was so much love, and all kinds of love, all of it beautiful in its own way. Silvera crafted something really amazing here.
In all likelihood, I’ll look at They Both Die at the End the same way I looked at the film Pan’s Labyrinth – it was an enchanting, wild ride, but dear god don’t make me do it again. I made the mistake of reading the final pages of the book first thing in the morning and spent the rest of the day terrified by the myriad ways I could accidentally kill myself. Get into a car accident? Choke on a cookie? Trip over my cat and bust my head open? Said cat would probably eat me before they found me, too. He’s ungrateful like that.
So unless you’re a paranoid shut-in like me, please, please check out They Both Die at the End. I promise, you won’t regret it!