The End. The vast majority of us don’t know when it will come and, though it’s life’s last big surprise, we don’t like to think about it. Yes, you will die, but what if you knew it was coming – today? Would you reach for your family or, as in the new novel “They Both Die at the End” by Adam Silvera, would you make a new one? The phone call came shortly after midnight. Mateo wasn’t expecting it – but then, who expects a call from the Death-Cast, anyhow? He thought about not answering the phone, but there was no getting out of it: his time was up. He was going to die, and the worst part was that he was going to die without talking to his dad first. Mateo’s father was in a coma and if he ever woke up, someone else would have to tell him that Mateo was gone. And that was that: he’d spent all his time with his dad and his gamer stuff and he didn’t exactly have any true friends he could count on. No, Mateo Torrez was going to die, just eighteen years old, alone, in a tiny apartment. But first, he downloaded the Last Friend app. The phone call came just after 1 a.m. Rufus was beating the heck out of his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend then, and everybody figured Death-Cast was calling Peck. No, it was Rufus’ phone that was ringing. Rufus was going to die. He’d been through this before: four months prior, his parents and his sister had all gotten the call on the same night. He’d been in an orphanage since then because he was only seventeen, almost an adult, a milestone he’d never make. He couldn’t let his friends watch him die and so, just after Peck called the cops to report the assault, Rufus bolted. Spend his final hours in jail? No way, so he downloaded the Last Friend app. Maybe someone could show him where the “old Rufus” was. The match came a little after 3 a.m. Rufus had a bike. Mateo had a few dollars. Neither had much time, and telling you any more than that would ruin this futuristically-plausible tale. No, you need to read “They Both Die at the End” for yourself. Of course, you know what happens: the title doesn’t lie, but what occurs between the call and the end is phenomenal storytelling. Author Adam Silvera takes a bleak idea and spins it into a tale of friendship and caution-throwing and, because other characters are like spokes of a Mateo-and-Rufus wheel, we also see how small actions resonate in other lives through casual connections that are almost as meaningful as the purposeful ones. For sure, that’s heartbreaking, but it’s also darkly funny and oddly uplifting. There’s also a certain “what if…” that lingers for a long time after you’ve closed the cover, which makes “They Both Die at the End” a great thought-provoking read for all ages. Start it and you’ll be hooked, all the way to… The End.
Posted in: The Bookworm Sez… (Book Reviews)