Hello everyone, and welcome back!
I was lucky enough to get my hands on this book in advance, yesss. I’ve been pretty excited to read Silvera’s next outing since I quite enjoyed History is All You Left Me. (Well, the notion of “enjoyment” is maybe relative, depending on how much you like your emotions destroyed. I cried a lot and thought it was good.)
Anyway, I thought I’d drop my review on the release date, since that seemed poetic. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
They Both Die at the End is about two teen boys who have their deaths predicted by Death Cast, a new service that calls people who are within 24 hours of death. For different reasons, the two are lonely and isolated, so they meet up through the Last Friend app—an app that matches up Deckers (people about to die) with friends for their last day.
If I didn’t know that Adam Silvera and Nicola Yoon are friends, I might be more inclined to be annoyed that this book is basically The Sun is Also a Star on sci-fi concept steroids, but I know Yoon must have been aware of this book before it came out, so. (It’s also totally possible that these two influenced one another during their writing processes and Silvera just had the bad luck to be the later book release, so he looks like the derivative one; either way, these scream for comparison.)
Similarities: Both involve a whirlwind tour of New York, alternate perspectives from people who are in the periphery of the story, a 24-hour romance, some looks at the ripple effects of actions, and two very different protagonists who learn something from one another.
Differences: Star is more pronounced as a romance and focuses on fate and heavily on the butterfly effect; End has those aspects, but leans a little more on worldbuilding in this sci-fi alternate present (with a few spots that wouldn’t be in actual NY, for obvious reasons) and obviously includes a lot of conversations about mortality—and whether or not it’s good to know your time to go. Also, as you might anticipate, they have fairly different endings!
Sometimes this felt almost too much like a mirror with a different premise, but I liked Star enough that I didn’t hate reading something like it with some sci-fi fun and gay/bisexual characters. (Yay bi representation! )
Having just read another Silvera release this year, though, it’s hard not to compare, and this just didn’t seem to have the same impact on me as History is All You Left Me, because it focussed more on events (and some periphery characters) than on really building character histories, motivations, and depth. There are times when confrontations (like those with Peck, for example) feel rushed or like the motivations behind them aren’t entirely clear or understandable, other than to further the plot.
There’s an obvious and visceral sympathy you have to feel for teen boys with not-easy lives who know they’re going to die, but the story of grief and hope in History feels far more earned because of a deeper understanding of the characters and their key relationships.
I enjoyed this read and the interesting premise/world it lived in, but it didn’t feel as original as The Sun is Also a Star or as emotionally impactful as History is All You Left Me, and its closeness to both (in terms of similarity and in terms of being a release from the same author in the same year) begs comparisons, so I couldn’t rate this in a vacuum even if I’d wanted to.
What’s your favourite Adam Silvera novel? (I’m guessing mine is obvious from the review above.) Any favourite alternate present settings? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll speak to you again soon!