“They Both Die at the End” offers fresh take on relationships
by Kailyn Lunn, Staff Writer
The title of Adam Silvera’s novel, “They Both Die at the End,” is not a spoiler. While knowing Silvera’s endearing protagonists won’t make it to the end, his novel never loses its humor and overall hopefulness.
Death-Cast is a futuristic program that informs people of their demise 24-hours before it
happens. However, they do not tell them how they will die. On September 5, Death-Cast called
Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers that now share an End
Mateo lives a quiet life. With his father in a coma, isolation was comfortable for him. He spends
his spare time reading, playing the piano, or visiting his best friend Lidia and her daughter,
Penny. He was alone in his apartment when Death-Cast called.
Rufus, however, is in a more complex situation. He is in the foster care system and received the
call in the middle of a fight with his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend, Peck. The boyfriend
contacted the police, causing Rufus to be separated from his best friends on his End Day.
Mateo decided he wanted to live his final day to the fullest and Rufus did not want to spend his
last day alone. Both of them created profiles on the Last Friend app.
Last Friend is a way for people to find somebody to spend time with on their End Day. Users of
Last Friend are people who are dying or people offering support.
After meeting on the app, Mateo and Rufus spend their last hours together in New York City.
Their friendship grows naturally, given the circumstances, and it is clear that they complement
Rufus challenges Mateo to break out of his shell, especially since this is his last day. When
necessary, Mateo always brings Rufus back down to Earth.
The novel becomes a love story as it reaches its end.
From the beginning, Rufus is openly bisexual and proud of it. Mateo has never experienced
dating and is still unsure of his sexuality during his final moments. One thing he is sure of is the
love he has for Rufus.
Silvera is known for including LGBTQ+ characters in his novels. He is openly gay and his
characters are a reflection of himself. Mateo and Rufus show opposite ends of the spectrum of
internal experiences of LGBTQ+ people.
Rufus never felt held back by his sexuality. He is outgoing and unashamed to stand out.
Bisexuality was a part of him that he was comfortable sharing.
Mateo never gave himself a chance to discover who he was. His introversion was the outcome of
his fear of being different and unaccepted.
The polarity of these characters strengthened Silvera’s message in the novel along with vignettes
of others receiving the Death-Cast notice.
“They Both Die at the End” stresses the power of empathy for strangers.
Every character in Silvera’s novel crosses paths, proving that we are all connected to each other.
Good work, Kailyn! Excellent review.