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Book Review: They Both Die at the End - Rhea Singh

You would think the title of the book would prepare me.

You would think that I’m not gonna bawl my eyes out because I’m literally going into the book knowing how it ends.

You would think all that information would brace me.

Well, it’s safe to say, YOU THOUGHT WRONG.

I knew how the book was going to end, and I was preparing myself the entire time. Reading the book and seeing the characters live, be happy and have a good time for 3/4th of the book, only to get THAT ending was possibly the most gut-wrenching experience I’ve ever had. Be prepared because this whole review is basically going to be me dramatically crying over every little aspect of this book <3

Summary from Goodreads:

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: 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—to live a lifetime in a single day.

I don’t even know how to write this review. I love everything about this book?? This book had me in my bed disintegrating into a pile of emotions in literally the first forty pages. The plot is straightforward enough, with an app called DeathCast alerting people who have only 24 hours before they die. We never really find out how the DeathCast system works, and I was hoping for an explanation for it, but by the end of the book, it honestly didn’t matter.

The pace of the book was great. It was smooth and kept moving the entire time, but still allowed us to form a deep and personal connection with the characters. Though there weren’t big things happening every few seconds, just the entire plot of the book made me want to keep reading and keep experiencing life to its very fullest with the two main characters of this book. I literally finished this book in a night, because I could not stop. I loved the multiple narrative perspectives because for a book as emotional as this, I felt it was integral to hear the same story and the same experience but from two polar opposite viewpoints.

The characters were honestly the highlight of this book. Mateo was the most pure, sweet, angelic character and is the epitome of all things good and I want to protect him so bad except that I can't really do that because he dies. He was so precious and so terrified of all the things in the world and I just wanted to simultaneously hug him and shake his shoulders and tell him to get a grip, and then hug him again. Sometimes it was a bit frustrating to see the world through the eyes of someone who is literally terrified and anxious of everything, but Mateo was such an interesting character with a really fascinating perspective to read from.

But I loved Rufus even more than I did Mateo. In the first few pages, you get the impression of him being a rough, aggressive guy who is constantly involved in fights, but that impression changes really quick. He’s so compassionate and patient, and I loved the way he never got even a bit annoyed at Mateo’s anxiety, but instead did everything in his power to help him get through it all with baby steps. I loved how he made Mateo’s last day the best day of his life, and I loved to see the two boys just LIVE for the last time. I also loved the rest of the side characters –- the Plutos are officially my favourite tiny group and thinking about their bond makes me want to burst into tears even now.

Moving on to the romance. Now I’m normally not a fan of instant-connection and instant-love at all, and I definitely don’t believe you can fall in love with someone in a day. But just this once, I really believed it for Mateo and Rufus. I believed in the way Rufus helped Mateo out of his shell, I believed in all those moments they shared, I believed in the way they lived, I believed in their friendship and I really believed in their love. It was pure and true and beautiful.

The ending of this book crushed me, even though I knew it was coming. I was still hoping for a miracle, but I knew I wouldn’t get it.

The relationships and the emotional connection were so complex and deep, and just the entire concept of the book really got me thinking. Imagine having only 24 hours left. We all know we’re going to die someday but imagine receiving a phone call from an aloof and disinterested call assistant who does this as a daily job who informs you that you have less than 24 hours to really live before you completely stop living. Imagine the bittersweet cruelty –- all the goodbyes, the unsaid thoughts and feelings, the relationships broken over petty things, all your little regrets – suddenly coming rushing at you, because in 24 hours, they’ll cease to exist for you. Think about the times you fought over something dumb, the times you missed hanging out with friends, the times you denied yourself fun things, the people who you never got to meet, the things you took for granted. Think about all the “what ifs” and the “maybe’s” you’re going to die with. This book brings all these feelings and all these emotions in torrents just rushing down at you, and really makes you step back and think –- life isn’t about all the “big moments” and “big achievements”, because even though all of that is great, one day, they won’t matter, and they don’t really make you happy. Life is all of those tiny individual things and memories that make you happy and build up to one BIG thing. They Both Die At The End makes you realise how little time you actually have, and how wasting it isn’t going to help anyone. It makes you realise that this is your “once and for all” and that sometimes even the most fleeting of relationships end up being the most meaningful of them all.

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