They Both Die at the End Paperback – 7 Sep 2017
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Mateo lives a quiet life, too afraid of stepping out of his comfort zone to have done much living when he gets the call saying he's going to die. With his father in a coma and his best friend being a single mum to his goddaughter, Mateo feels alone and turns to Last Friend in the hope of finding someone to help him live his life in twenty-four hours.
Rufus on the other hand lives the opposite of a quiet life, we meet him in the middle of beating up his ex girlfriend's current boyfriend and then he gets the call. It isn't the way Rufus saw things going, he'd already lost his parents and older sister to the Death-Cast, now it was his turn. As events unfold Rufus finds himself on the run from the police and separated from his friends, so Rufus also finds himself on Last Friend.
"No matter how we choose to live, we both die at the end."
I was really intrigued by the idea of Death-Cast, is life better when you know that you'll get a call on your End Day? Does it eliminate fear and encourage you to make the most of life? For Mateo it didn't, he spent his days indoors playing video games and following the last moments of others who got the call. Rufus says that it doesn't matter and that he and Mateo just need to accept what is happening and live.
"...I think you should post your life in colour."
Rufus and Mateo share their final hours together through Rufus' Instagram (so Gen Z, so relatable), sharing new experiences, getting to know each other and living as full a life as you possibly can in a day. For such an upsetting book there was some really touching moments that I don't want to ruin for any potential readers, but Mateo and his lego house made me very warm and fuzzy.
"Twelve hours ago I received the phone call telling me I'm going to die today, and I'm more alive now than I was then."
Throughout the book there are stories from other characters, one of those characters is Deidre Clayton, who goes through a tough time dealing with the whole premise of the Death-Cast and has suicidal thoughts because of it. Honestly one of my first thoughts about the subject when I read about it was how could anyone deal with the knowledge that one day their phone will ring and there's nothing you can do to change things? In life you like to think that death can be avoided, if you get in an accident that you could be helped, you can get treatment for illness and get better. The call is a unavoidable death sentence, and that's scary.
"You can't go around telling people you wanna be a tree and expect them to take you seriously."
Something I really liked about the book is the different conversations and opinions about the afterlife. For someone who is afraid of death, yes that's me -and I'm reading a book about so much death, it was really comforting for me to think about what could happen after death, some things I've never thought about. Death is so uncertain and there's no way to ever know what really happens, so we can choose to believe whatever we want if it helps us to navigate the world. It does help, or at least it does for me.
"I will make it so easy for you to find me. Neon signs. Marching bands."
Mateo and Rufus really were the most perfect characters to lead me through this story. Of course it's a curse that they didn't meet sooner but the time they did have together was made so special by their willingness to go all out and just be themselves. The two of them lived out what would have been months of a new friendship, in a single day, and it was beautiful.
I could go on and on about this book, there's characters I haven't covered who are amazing but I want to leave something for anyone reading this who is going to pick up the book. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes YA/LGBTQ+ reads, obviously there is some sensitive topics in this book so please read at your own discretion and do so in the comfort of your own home with a partner or pet or stuffed animal nearby for all the cuddles -you're going to need a lot.
Despite the title. this book is all about LIVING, and making the most of your life. It's thought-provoking, tear-jerking and incredibly well-written. While some people consider the start of the book a little slow in pacing, I found the concept so interesting that I kept reading. I read it in one sitting so I highly recommend.
They Both Die at the End is told from the alternating first person perspectives of two boys, both informed that they are going to die today. Knowing nothing about one another, Rufus and Mateo help one another out of their shells and encourage each other to live their final day to the fullest.
This book is all about the characters. Their personalities are so different and it comes through strongly in their voices. Often multiple perspective books can go wrong because it's hard to tell the characters apart, but that wasn't the case here. They were instantly distinct and I found them genuinely relatable. Mateo and Rufus felt like real teenagers with lives I could picture vividly. They had real problems and anxieties and interacted with the world and technology in a way real teenagers would, and I'm glad I got to fall in love with them and their relationships.
"You may be born into a family, but you walk into friendships. Some you'll discover you should put behind you. Others are worth every risk."
The book is also about a bunch of small and beautiful things:
- It's about coming out of your shell, but not dramatically. You can be brave in small ways and can still find fulfilment in them.
- It's about small kindnesses for the sake of being kind. Being a selfless and good person regardless of karma or reward.
- It's about everything in life being connected together in small ways. A single interaction can cause a whole chain of reactions, and every person you pass is someone of value.
"My Last Message would be to find your people. And to treat each day like a lifetime."
Reading this book comes with a simultaneous happiness and heart ache. I reached the final segment shaking, my whole existence croaking sounds of 'no'. I had no idea how things would end, but I finished the book with a sense of completion knowing that, live or die, it ended right.
This is by no means a light book, but there is so much light that shines through it. Full of captivating characters and small, beautiful things, They Both Die at the End is an enchanting story of love and life that I hope everyone gets the chance to have their heart broken by.
An ebook copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.
Diversity Note: Protagonist who is Puerto Rican and gay, and protagonist who is Cuban and bisexual
Warnings: death, parent in coma, hospitals, physical violence, drowning, burning, car accident, death of family members, death of animal, discussion of suicide, attempted suicide, explosives, guns
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