You may be born into a family, but you walk into friendships. Some you’ll discover you should put behind you. Others are worth every risk.
I liked this a lot more than I thought I would, and I cried a lot less than I expected. As a matter of fact, I didn’t cry at all.
I actually don’t like books that make me cry, I get enough of that with life.
And that’s what They Both Die at the End is about: living.
It’s about not wasting your time with your insecurities, about living the time you have left the fullest. It was hopeful in an unusual way, and I think I read it at the right moment – this is definitely the kind of book you have to be in the right mood for.
I’m not sure which genre this book is. It has sci-fi elements which feel like contemporary fantasy, but it reads like a contemporary. The only thing I know is that I loved it.
They Both Die at the End is told in two perspectives, but sometimes there are some not-so-random chapters from the point of view of minor characters. This format reminded me a lot of The Sun Is Also a Star, but TBDatE had way less pretentious conversations and it was queer, which are welcome improvements.
I’m glad painful queer books that are not about queer pain exist. Books like this are the only sad queer books I want to read.
Also, almost everyone is a person of color. Rufus is Cuban-American, Mateo’s parents are from Puerto Rico.
But the reason I loved this? It never felt like tragedy porn.
You know that kind of book. The emotionally manipulative one that uses tragedies to make the reader feel sad, and does it clumsily (an example: literally all sicklit books ever).
They Both Die at the End never did that. I never felt manipulated, and that made me love the story and the characters so much more.
And I loved the entire cast. It’s a m/m love story that lasts one day, but it’s also a story about friendships – I loved the Plutos a lot. I just really like to read about friend groups.
Rufus was my favorite character. I don’t get attached to male characters that often, for some reason, but when I do I really love them. He makes some awful decisions sometimes, but he’s great.
He and Mateo actually worked as a couple, which makes everything even more sad. I believed in them, even if they knew each other for only one day (and they never felt unrealistic to me).
I didn’t care that the worldbuilding, especially the DeathCast app, was never really explained. It read like contemporary fantasy, and that wasn’t a problem for me. I liked how the book chose to explore DeathCast’s effects on everyday life more than its inner workings.
There’s only one thing that… bothered me: the idea that living with anxiety isn’t really living. I understand why someone would think that way on the last day of their life – as in: I wasted all my time being self-conscious and I never really lived – but I’m not sure how I feel about that.
My rating: ★★★★¾