Eh, I don’t know how I feel about this one…
They Both Die At The End was the unanimously voted Book of the Month for @TheBookishTravellers book club for April. Due to timezones (the entire inspiration for our name by the way), we weren’t able to meet up and discuss it, but I have so so many thoughts on it that I need to release!
Goodreads Summary On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio 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—to live a lifetime in a single day.
Let me preface this by saying that this is the first novel I am reading by Adam Silvera. I am trying not to base my view on his works on this one novel, nor what other people say of his works, but I am aware this is his most popular novel and as I said, I have lots of thoughts on it.
★ Rating ★
I rated this book ★★★☆☆ (3.5/5 stars). I have so so many conflicting emotions while reading, taking everything in with an analytical mind and only sparse relaxed enjoyment. I both disliked and was completely indifferent about the story as there were some things that felt off but other things where I was like, “well, that’s kinda cool”.
I went into this novel as I usually do; without reading the blurb a.k.a knowing completely nothing about the novel (aside from the fact that they die at the end of course), but also with the added bonus of a meh/slightly negative perspective.
I don’t know where on the bookish side of the interwebs I read it, but somewhere in me had the predetermination of negativity going into this novel and although I tried to ignore it… I couldn’t.
As I said earlier, I read the novel with an analytical eye, knowing that I was writing this review. If you’re unaware, the story is told from two alternate perspectives, the anxious, introverted Mateo and the rebellious Rufus. We follow the two boys as they receive the call from DeathCast, telling them that they will die within the next 24 hours and how they choose to spend those next 24 hours.
Obviously and inevitably, the two boys cross paths and within a few hours of their life, we bare witness to the development of their characters as their death looms ever-closer.
The story was so full of stereotypes that just seemed so jarring, wrong, like they didn’t belong to those characters. Here’s where my mixed feelings come in. I wanted to love our stereotypical rebel orphan Rufus and our cute boi introvert trying to live his life, Mateo, but I really got the impression that the story was made for Mateo, written all and only about Mateo with Rufus just thrown in there to be the supporting character with whom there is sexual tension.
Now I know what you’re thinking, and that is, “damn Bree that was one stupidly long sentence, was that necessary?” Yes, yes it was necessary because in a novel where there are two characters and two main storylines but one feels of lesser importance than the other and that is the one of the stereotypically rough black orphan… Yeh, I didn’t like that.
The entire novel is about both boys breaking out of their shells, escaping stereotypes and trying to live before their inevitable and unpredictable deaths. But in living, both of them just become opposites of themselves, telling the reader that they were not happy with their life – and by all means it is completely okay to change yourself if you don’t like who you are, if it didn’t feel so forced.
I may sound like I’m being a super harsh critic, but aside from the stereotyping and character bias, there was a slight tell instead of show aspect to Silvera’s writing. This mostly occurred when either of the boys tried to convince the reader that they were not actually the person that they were the stereotype that they had been introduced as.
To end on a happy note, I loved the concept and I enjoyed the story to the point where I was happy enough to read the entire novel. Just because I do speak negatively about the story it doesn’t mean I hated the story, just certain aspects irked me to a point where I needed to discuss them.
There were heartwarming moments, some funny parts and just an overall cute relationship blooming between the two boys that ended in (obviously) inevitable tragedy. Wierdly enough I read the death scene for Mateo and had the strangest feeling like I’d read this scene before. Like clear as day I have a full ass memory of that scene but cannot for the life of me remember why, since I’d never read this dang book before.
But anyways. Let me know what you thought of this novel in the comments below and also if you maybe agree/disagree with anything I’ve said in this review.
As always, I love you, stay happy, healthy and have a lovely day, week, month and year!
See you back here on Monday’s (book reviews), Wednesday’s (storytime/ writing updates) and Saturday’s (other bookish content).