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They Both Die at the End5/5

They Both Die at the End

Adam Silvera

Review

Mateo Torrez is a quiet, scared and lonely 18-year-old whose mother is dead and father is in a coma. Rufus Emeterio is a recently orphaned, angry but big-hearted 17-year-old in trouble with the police.

Shortly after midnight on 5th September 2017, Mateo and Rufus receive a call from Death-Cast - a mysterious organisation that not only knows when people will die, it calls them on the morning of their death day to tell them. Now Mateo and Rufus have one last chance to do some living. For their own reasons, they choose to connect with someone new on their last day, and they find each other through the -Last Friend- app.

Death-Cast has been around for 7 years, and it is never wrong. We are left to make up our own minds as to whether having this knowledge is a good thing or not. It was interesting to see how Silvera imagined what effect this would have on human psyches, interactions and societies.

The story is told in alternating first-person chapters (with the occasional side step to peripheral characters), so you see Matteo and Rufus developing as people from their own and each other's perspective. The book does well on the diversity front, too - Mateo is Puerto Rican-American, Rufus is Cuban-American and openly bisexual.

This was not an easy book to read - a constant reminder of my own mortality - but it was powerful and affecting. What would I do if I found out that today was to be my last day? Who would I see? Would I tell them? Where would I go? What would I do? Would I cope?

This book has the potential to have a huge impact on teen readers - on how they see the world, their friends and family, and themselves. It is profound, sad and moving but also funny, joyous and life affirming. Oh, and spoiler alert, they both die at the end.

368 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Daniel Katz, school librarian.

Reviewed by: Daniel Katz