They Both Die at the End

by Adam Silvera | Teens |
ISBN: 9780062457806 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 9/12/2022
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Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Monday, September 12, 2022
I got this softcover at Barnes and Noble, for another release copy. (It's on the list of books challenged by Texas lawmaker Matt Krause - a list that runs into 800 and more titles.)

I first read the book via audiobook (see the entry here), and enjoyed it very much.

The story's set in a world where people are notified of their imminent deaths 24 hours in advance (give or take), so that they can spend their final hours doing whatever they like; the first protagonist, Mateo, is only 18 and is not happy about receiving his notification - understandably enough. He's on the point of spending his entire last day hiding in his apartment playing video games, despite longing to make SOME kind of mark on the world, when he gives a "Last Friend" app a try, and matches up with Rufus, another teen with a death notice - who has problems of his own, but a much bolder take on the world than Mateo does. [Note the cover art: it shows silhouettes of the two boys walking through the city, with their shadows combining to form a grim reaper... And, having noticed that, it took me several days to also notice that the "clouds" in the night sky are the empty eyes of a skull!]

{sob!} Yeah, definitely some tear-jerking here, much of it in the happy and/or poignant-fondness area, but (surprise) there's sadness too. That said, the story spun out beautifully, making me fonder and fonder of the two main characters as they grew closer to each other. I enjoyed spotting the connections between secondary characters too - one early incident in Mateo's life comes back to play a factor in a potentially deadly showdown late in the book, and other characters have their paths cross that of our heroes in a number of different ways. [Among the more charming crossovers: at one point the boys visit a bookshop and buy a "blind date" book, one that's wrapped to conceal the title/author, with a clue written on the paper. They don't open it but leave it on the seat of a subway car - where two other characters find it and are pleased by the synchronicity. And then there's the "pay phone graveyard" that the boys stumble upon, where the dead phone booths are covered with graffiti, some of it featuring messages to a specific person; later on we learn who made the graffiti and why...]

The purpose of the story seems to be that of encouraging connection - and of seizing the day; as the author points out in an afterword, we ALL die at the end, and most of us won't know in advance...

The story also sparked a lot of "what would I do" - plus more "what should I be doing NOW" - and plenty of memories of my own lost family and friends.

There's some bonus material here, including an early draft of the story - and a relationship map of the major characters, which may reveal a few things that some readers might have missed otherwise.

[The concept of the death-notice reminded me of the manga series Ikigami, where the deaths are (supposedly) randomly assigned as a way to help keep the population motivated to live to the fullest - yeah, that doesn't quite work as planned. And there's also Machine of Death, an anthology themed on a machine that can tell people HOW they will die, though usually not when; the various contributors come up with some awesome variations on the theme. As with those, this book includes some different ways in which society might change given the access to this new information.]

Released 2 mos ago (9/25/2022 UTC) at Little Free Library, Robin Ln and Mourning Dove Rd in East Kingston, New Hampshire USA


I left this book in this new-to-me Little Free Library on this drizzly day; hope someone enjoys it!

[See other recent releases in NH here.]

*** Released for the 2022 September Sapphire challenge. ***

*** Released for the 2022 Banned Books Week challenge. ***

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