They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera (review)
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Reviewed by
Silvera, Adam They Both Die at the End. HarperTeen/HarperCollins, 2017 [384p]
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-06-245779-0 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-06-245781-3 $9.99
Reviewed from galleys Ad Gr. 7-10

In this otherwise normal New York, people who are going to die in the next twenty-four hours get a call with a special ringtone, letting them know that a representative from Death-Cast is on the line. The call recipients, known as Deckers, have the ability to sign on to an app called Last Friend, and that’s how timid Mateo and reckless Rufus, both Deckers, find each other. After some character development, the unlikely duo spend the rest of their day with Mateo trying to avoid potentially [End Page 35] dangerous situations while insisting he wants to take risks, and Rufus bent on gently breaking Mateo out of his shell. Alternating narration between the two contrasts Mateo’s reflective standard English with Rufus’s selective street slang, with interstitial third-person chapters devoted to other Deckers or side characters whose lives intersect marginally with the boys’ over the course of their day. The premise might have been promising if it weren’t so lazily configured and conveniently contrived; no explanations are given for how the Death-Cast works or when it began, and both boys conveniently survive most of their day. That gives them time enough to fall in love with each other while resolving feelings about all the relationships they’ve ever had with some preachy sentiments thrown in, and check a few uninteresting experiences off their bucket lists. That said, the book provides what is likely a more realistic picture of what people would want and do if they knew they had less than twenty-four hours to live, so if it’s contrived in execution, it’s at least thought-provoking about how to live well in the present.

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