YA Fiction

They Both Die At The End Gave Me An Existential Crisis

Okay everyone, I have a lot of feelings about They Both Die At The End. For the most part, those feelings involve an existential crisis about living in the moment, how everyone I know (and me, obviously) will die soon, what happens after we die, and if I am happy with my life as it is.

Yeah, it’s a lot.

They Both Die At The End

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On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: they’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news is: there’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—an unforgettable day that will change both their lives forever.

Summary courtesy of www.adamsilvera.com

Do They Both Actually Die?

Yes, of course they both actually die. It tells you that right in the title!

And no, it doesn’t prepare you for it.

The entire book is based on this idea of ‘by knowing the day you die, you can live out your final hours exactly as you want to.’ So, the entire book, you know the characters will die. But you don’t know when. It could happen literally during any point of the book that one of the main characters will die.

Will I Have An Existential Crisis?

I don’t know. I did, my wife did, and everyone I know who read it did, so my guess is that you will. The main things I’m freaking out about are:

  • Everyone I know will die, some of them before me. How do I deal with that?

  • I’m going to die and it could happen at any moment.

  • Am I happy with my life? Should I be making changes?

  • What is the point of doing anything if we’re just going to die anyway?

  • What happens after we die?

  • What about the people we leave behind after we die?

  • I just don’t want to die!

These aren’t groundbreaking thoughts or anything, but these have been the thoughts swirling around in my head for days since reading the book.

Isn’t The Point Of The Book To Make You “Live”?

Yes, I imagine it is. The book isn’t cruel. It’s sad. It’s tragic. It’s kind of hard to read, especially for someone who has OCD that is often focused on the subject of death.

And certainly it has made me think about how I need to live my best life while I can. But if I was living the exact life I wanted, I wouldn’t work. I’d just travel, hang out with friends, and spend all my money. Obviously I shouldn’t do this.

But I can look at ways to incorporate more things into my life that are important to me. If it will happen or not I can’t say, since right now I’m busy still having a crisis.

But Was The Book Good?

I mean...sort of?

I had some problems with the novel. I hated the character voices, especially Rufus. They just felt so contrived and I had a hard time relating to the characters because of the tone.

The book is written in very simplistic language. This isn’t uncommon in YA and my writing isn’t flowery by any stretch of the imagination, but I would have liked a bit more.

Plus, this story felt like it should have been set in the future. The fact that it takes place in 2017 and social media sites like Instagram are mentioned alongside new apps like the Last Friend app pulled me out of the story at times.

All that being said, the world building was fantastic, the characters were interesting, and the plot came together in a way that I am envious of.

So I would say yes, the book is good. Not stellar, but definitely good and not a waste of time to read.

Would You Want To Know It Was Your Last Day?

For me, the answer is absolutely not. I know myself. I’d never be able to deal with it. Instead I’d spend the whole time panicked about when the end would come.

Plus then every single day I’d have the panic of waiting to see if I get a phone call telling me that it is my last day alive.

Remember how I have OCD? This would be very, very bad.

But what about the rest of you? Would you want to know when it was your last day? And why? I’m really curious to see how many people actually think it’s a good idea.

Why I Still Love YA at 27

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I love reading YA books. There has been a lot of debate over the years whether or not adults should read YA literature. My immediate response is to say that people should read whatever they want, but I also think the subject is worth discussion. What defines YA as a genre? Why do some adults enjoy reading YA so much? I can only speak for myself, so here’s why I still love YA at age 27, and why I think other adults should still give YA a chance.

  1. For the most part, I find it difficult to find adult novels that entertain me. So many adult bestsellers are thriller and mystery novels, and I just have no interest in the genre. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve read some amazing literature aimed at adults, and I’ve been particularly obsessed with memoirs lately. But when I go to a bookstore and all the best sellers are thrillers, it doesn’t inspire me to dive into the fiction stacks.

  2. There’s so many genres within the YA genre itself. I can pick up realistic fiction while also finding an urban fantasy I want to check out in one trip. I’ve read about fictional battles with cancer and about wizards in magical schools. There’s a lot to choose from, and I’ve found that YA literature is a bit less formulaic than their adult genre counterparts.

  3. Also, I find that YA has a lot of fresh ideas, particularly when it comes to sci-fi and fantasy. I’m a sucker for dystopian fiction, and YA has so much of it. I don’t always want to read, say, high fantasy. And again, I’m not saying the sci-fi/fantasy section at bookstores is bad, simply that I enjoy the YA fiction counterpart.

  4. I can relate more to characters who are 17 than I can to characters in their forties. While I have a lot of the “real life” problems that older adults struggle with, I find that my mindset does not often align with the mindset of these characters. Maybe it’s because I’m a millennial? While reading YA yes, I may agree with the parents or think a romance is unrealistic, but it is still fun, and I can understand both perspectives now that I am older.  

  5. There are YA novels have some of the most interesting, beautiful writing I’ve seen. I read a lot of literary fiction in college, and I often felt the plot was put on the back burner for flowery descriptions and metaphors. YA can still have that beautiful prose, but it never sacrifices the plot for it.

  6. YA allows for so much escapism. That’s not just because, say, the story takes place on a different planet where every twelve years people lose all their memories. YA also really gets into the emotions of a character. Teenagers often don’t think an analytically as adults do, and it becomes easy to get swept into their emotions. Additionally, reading about a crisis in a YA novel feels a bit less hopeless than reading about one in adult fiction.

  7. I still find YA novels to be more accessible. General fiction in bookshops gives you a huge mix of reading materials. When browsing sci-fi, you often have to search for the first in a long series of novels. Though this could be the fault of how bookstores are organized more than anything else.

  8. Even though the subjects can often be heavy, YA just makes for a less intense read. I’m not always in the mood to read deeply intellectual texts. Sometimes, I just want to breeze through a fun book. Lolita was a fascinating read, but the translated work had small font, a fantastic vocabulary, and required much more close reading. On the whole, YA is easier to read.

  9. Some of the most amazing, inspiring messages come from YA novels. Sure, you can look at the surface of a YA novel and describe the plot easily, but a close read can also bring about more complicated themes. And while I don’t hate ambiguous endings, it sure is nice to finish a book that feels very complete.

  10. I just enjoy them, and really, I think it is ridiculous that people can be such snobs about the types of books other people read. I don’t enjoy thrillers, but that doesn’t mean the genre has no merit. I just don’t find it very interesting. We all have our tastes.

So yes, next time I take a trip to the bookstore I’ll probably pick up John Green’s new book (I do have OCD, after all), as well as When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (because clearly, my OCD needs more mental fuel for my fear of cancer). And I am proud of that.

What genres do you read? Do you have a favorite YA novel? Let me know in the comments!