One of the only things about KO that I dislike is I almost never have time to read anymore. Throughout elementary and middle school, I read three to five books a week. Coming to KO my freshman year was a shock to me, because I found myself only being able to read the books assigned for school and the occasional quick read for fun when I had time.
So when summer came around, I was excited to finally get the opportunity to read again. My favorite author in the entire world is Becky Albertalli. I’ve read every single one of her books, and I got and finished her most recent, “Leah on the Offbeat” the day it came out. She’s best known for “Simon vs. The Homosapiens Agenda,” the book that inspired “Love, Simon.” When I found out that she and author Adam Silvera were releasing a book called “What if it’s Us?” on October 9, I dedicated myself wholeheartedly to reading all of Mr. Silvera’s books too. So when I knew I was traveling to Montana, which required two 14 hour travel days, I decided that was when I was going to read all three of them.
Mr. Silvera was an author who I had heard about a lot for his book “History Is All You Left Me,” a heart wrenching story that alternates between the past and the present after one of the main characters dies.
Before I get into the review of his third book, “They Both Die at the End,” I want to say that I love depressing stories. I like to get a good cry at the end of the book, and I figured with a title like this book had, I’d be crying a lot throughout it.
I was right. It was a depressing read. The book starts off with an explanation. It tells readers that every day, before two in the morning, people who were supposed to die that day would get a call telling them just that. There’s nothing they can do to stop their death, and they don’t know the time at which they are going to die.
The theme of the book as a whole is genuinely just really sad. Multiple times throughout the story I had to put it down just to think, which is something I haven’t had to do before with a book that wasn’t for school. It brought unique stories and a strange question, at least to me: if it was my last day on Earth, what would I do?
And honestly, I don’t know. We as humans in today’s day and age don’t have the ability to tell when we are going to die. That’s why readers of this book, knowingly or not, live the day vicariously through the two main characters, even though we don’t have the same experiences as them. It’s interesting to see how they choose to spend their End Day compared to how we would spend ours.
Overall, I really liked the idea of being able to say goodbye to your family. It’s a perspective that I’ve never had regarding death. Your family’s last chance to say goodbye in our world is after you are already dead. When and where this story takes place, you can say goodbye to your family before you die, which is unique and brings tinges of happiness to a day that is pretty much destined to be sad.
The story follows Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio, two 18 year old boys who have been faced with an untimely death. Both boys had friends but were loners. Mateo had only his dying dad and his best friend, Lidia. Rufus had his three friends from his foster home and no family.
That almost makes the story as a whole sadder. They both almost had no one to remember them when they died, until they met each other, but then again, they’re both dying on the same day.
When you are what’s called a “Decker,” the people who’s End Day it is, you have the opportunity to download the “Last Friend” app, a way to talk to other Deckers when you have no one else to spend your last day with. That’s how Rufus and Mateo met.
This whole idea of spending your last day with someone you’ve never met before weirds me out a little, but I figured that if you were as lonely as these two people were, it would be almost a last resort. Mr. Silvera did a nice job of having them meet, as two Deckers the same age in New York City would never really meet unless it was through this app. He almost emphasized the awkwardness that the two characters were facing, making an inorganic meeting seem at least a little more natural and relatable in a world that is based around social media.
The book for the most part alternated chapters between Rufus’s and Mateo’s point of view. They were so vastly different, which is why the alternating point of view was so important. Mateo was an overly cautious high schooler, who never had more than one friend or a real relationship. Rufus, on the other hand, was a problematic teenager who readers learned to love. Even though they were so different, when you hear the story from both boys’ point of view, you learn why and how they became friends. The two boys, who were each so unique, let the readers into their relationship. The idea of switching point of views is common and almost cliche, but Mr. Silvera did it better than, in my opinion, any other author has.
One thing I didn’t like about this book was that, occasionally, you would have a single chapter in the point of view of another character, such as Rufus’s ex-girlfriend, her current boyfriend, or one of the Heralds (the people who tell Deckers that it is their End Day). These chapters almost always came at a weird time, and half of the characters were minor characters who were only mentioned once or twice throughout the book after their chapter, if at all.
There was a love story written into the book, which I thought was unnecessary, but it was a nice touch. The romance of the two characters, while only developing in one day, didn’t seem like it was forced or going too fast, one thing that is common in books aimed at teenage girls. It was cute, yes, but it wasn’t like an overly cliche Sarah Dessen novel that you see all over Barnes and Noble.
As I mentioned before, I like depressing books, but I hate cheesy books. I’ll admit that the idea of this book sounds like a poorly written Tumblr fanfiction, most likely with two of the members of One Direction, but I promise that Mr. Silvera takes a slightly cheesy idea into a real story that’s both entertaining and heartbreaking to read. The way he develops characters, storylines, and emotion is unrivaled by any young adult author today. The idea for the story was written so that it was no longer cheesy, but instead well-developed and clever.
I spent the entire book hoping that somehow Rufus and Mateo would override the system and that they wouldn’t die, even though I knew it was unlikely. Between both the title and the fact that no Decker has ever changed their fate, I knew that Rufus and Mateo didn’t have a large chance of surviving the day.
Even though the title spoils the end of the book, it’s still a great read that I recommend to anyone, no matter the books you like to read. You’ll fall in love with the storyline that “They Both Die at the End” introduces.