Saturday, November 25, 2017

They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera

Rating: ★★★+.5 | Release Date: 09/05/17 | Contemporary-ish ? | 8 hours 29 minutes |

They Both Die At The End is the Final Destination meets The Sun is Also A Star you didn’t know you needed.

It’s a little after midnight in New York City when 17-year-old foster kid Rufus Emeterio and 18-year-old Mateo Torrez get the phone alert from Death Cast, a mysterious service that somehow knows that within 24 hours you will meet an untimely death. When they both find themselves unable to be with their loved ones on their End Days they connect on the The Last Friend app. With less than 24 hours left to live these two unlikely strangers are going to have to try the best last day and they're doing it together.

I’m a little conflicted over this book. Silvera is an great storyteller; his characters are interesting and he creates this great alternate universe that is only a few ticks off from our own world but you never feel confused or like you are getting an info dump. He just eases you into his imagination perfectly. But there were times when the story felt slow and stagnant and the over earnestness levels were at an all time high. Like at one point these New Yorkers bury a dead bird on the street and later they sing American Pie at karaoke, which if you aren't familiar is a song with the chorus "Singin' this'll be the day that I die."

Mateo is sa socially anxious homebody and he makes a big deal about wanting to really live his last day but they spend a lot of time cryptically saying goodbye to people and things. They don’t really do things that could be seen as “living life” until the last 30%...but like maybe that’s the point ? Like, really living doesn’t always mean doing big things ?

 You want this on audio. I’ve talked about both Michael Crouch and Robbie Daymond before and these dudes can read my grocery list and I’d drop an Audible credit. Crouch gives this very reserved, slightly sheepish narration for Mateo and he just makes some really interesting performance choices. He’ll add little laughs, sighs and inhalations that aren’t in the dialogue and it just makes the reading feel  natural. Robbie Daymond has this confident swagger with a bit of playfulness that fit Rufus’s character perfectly. Bahni Turpin also makes an appearance for short third person interstitial chapters and wow, does she have range. I’d always been kind of hesitant because I thought she sounded too old for YA but I may check out one of her YAs.

I do think it’s worth noting that while our protagonists are Cuban and Puerto Rican neither of these narrators are Latino ( Crouch is white and Daymond is Native American) and while I love the narration it’s interesting they didn’t get narrators who fit the ethnicity of the characters.

Adam Silvera is doing something really interesting in YA these days, it seems like he came out of nowhere and is just changing the game. He made this cryptic tweet a while ago:

I wonder what this is about ? A sequel ? A Hulu show ? 

Me to all the people on They Both Die At The End's Goodreads page asking if an Adam Silvera book is sad:

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