“They Both Die at the End”: A Story of Life, Love, and Death in 24 Hours

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“They Both Die at the End” is a novel published in 2017 by New York Times bestselling author Adam Silvera.

“I regret to inform you that sometime in the next twenty-four hours you’ll be meeting an untimely death.” 

In an alternate reality from Adam Silvera’s  They Both Die at the End, the company Death-Cast calls Deckers (people who will die within the next day) to notify them of their approaching fates. On September 5, a little past midnight, the dreaded call comes for two teenagers in New York City: Cuban American foster kid Rufus and Puerto Rican Mateo. Rufus and Mateo don’t know how or exactly when they’ll die, only that they will in twenty-four hours. 

Rufus needs company. He’s on the run after a violent act lands the police on his tail and his friends in jail. 

Mateo needs excitement. He wants a chance to really live after a lifetime of being shy and playing it safe. 

The two meet through Last Friend, a social media app designed to connect lonely Deckers on their End Day. Determined to seize their final hours, Mateo and Rufus set off across the city together, during which their growing friendship deepens into something more. The book mainly features brief, time-stamped chapters narrated first-person by Mateo and Rufus, but also includes short third-person chapters from side characters that they encounter along the way.

Like Mateo and Rufus, you become entirely caught up in their adventures and blooming relationship, and in the process, you end up completely forgetting that it’s their End Day. And that’s part of what makes this story so heartbreaking yet captivating at the same time: we know exactly how this book will end, the title tells readers what to expect. Yet when the ending arrives, it does so unexpectedly, though we knew how it would end all along.

They Both Die At The End isn’t just an ordinary bucket list for two. It’s a tale of two teenage boys faced with an inevitable fate, embarking on one final adventure together and daring to fall in love. The book is as beautiful and contemplative as it is heart-wrenching, Silvera masterfully wrestling with complex questions about mortality and the meaning of truly living. 

Being alive doesn’t really mean living. You can live your whole entire life alive without knowing what it means to live. If there is one thing I have learned from reading They Both Die At the End, it is to live today as if there are no more tomorrows. To take all of the chances and opportunities you were too scared to before. To catch every moment as it passes by, no matter how fleeting or small. Because as Silvera quotes from Oscar Wilde at the very beginning of the book, “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that’s all.”