A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The boys discuss serious topics such as religion/faith, the foster system, LGBTQ identity, and orphanhood -- also less heavy topics like cycling, playing video games, and favorite parts of New York City. Readers wil be exposed to various real and fictitious places in New York, and will learn a bit about the experience of being a Latino teen.
Try to make the most of every day, because you never know when it's going to be the day you die. Seize the day, put yourself out there and take risks. Strong messages about the importance of forgiveness, redemption, and love, and how family can include close friendships; a parent can (and should) also be a child's confidant and close friend.
Positive Role Models
Mateo is generous, kind, and selfless. Rufus is loving, loyal, and protective. They both have plenty of flaws (Rufus is impulsive and Mateo too timid), but as the story continues, they bring out the best in each other.
Violence & Scariness
A guy beats up another guy pretty badly (punching, pushing, knees, etc.). The victim of the beatdown enlists friends to retaliate, but with guns. A Decker is mad he has only one day to live and decides to "take others out" with him via a suicide bombing. Deckers die via explosions, fires, car accidents, acts of violence, and several other ways.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Teens discuss or think about sex and romantic relationships. One character has zero experience and wishes he had connected with someone. Another character recently broke up with his most serious significant other and tells his friend about his first kiss. Two characters kiss and eventually make out a couple of times.
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Regular strong language includes "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "douche," "d--k," "motherf----r," etc.
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Products & Purchases
A character's Trek bike plays a pivotal role in the book.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A bar allows underage "Deckers" (those who will die that day) to drink if they choose. Deckers of various ages drink and smoke in a club.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that They Both Die at the End is the third novel from acclaimed author Adam Silvera. Like in his first book, More Happy Than Not, the setting is a contemporary New York City with one big life-changing piece of technology in place. In this case, it's the existence of Death-Cast, a company/organization that alerts everyone who is going to die in a given day in the wee hours of each new day. The "heralds" calling those who will die don't know when or how you will die, just that you will. There's regular use of strong language (including "f--k" and "s--t"), some disturbing violence (explosions, a gun wielded, a suicide bombing, and several ways people can die), and a little bit of romance (mostly limited to making out), but given the intense circumstances, it's all age-appropriate for mature eighth graders and up. Silvera once again conveys strong messages about love, loss, grief, acceptance, and joy in his work.
Is It Any Good?
The title might tell readers what to expect, but there's a heartbreaking, heartwarming journey before the emotional end that will inspire teens to live bigger and better. Adam Silvera is one of YA's most interesting writers, because he doesn't shy away from death, grief, or loss. Like his other books, this one involves LGBTQ New York City teens, and as in his debut, there's a technological feature that changes the way people live. The premise isn't entirely new, but the way he implements it is, because Mateo and Rufus don't spend the precious time they have in their final day trying to find a desperate way around it. As Mateo makes clear early on, even a former president who hid himself in a secret shelter ended up assassinated by the Secret Service. No one can get around death once Death-Cast calls. The title isn't a spoiler, because it's not the point of the book.
Instead, Silvera's characters benefit from some of the perks of being on Death-Cast's list, like discounts and special Decker-only activities. They do small, quiet things (visit Mateo's dad in the hospital, his mom in the cemetery), as well as take virtual-reality trips around the world, and sing karaoke. The story doesn't feel like a race against time, and in fact unfolds at a slow, thoughtful pace, with the exception of a few sequences, like when bicyclist Rufus is running (well, riding) from the police or when he and Mateo are surviving (against the odds) a couple of deadly situations. In some ways, the book is reminiscent of The Sun Is Also a Star, because it's about one powerful day in which two teens change each other's lives -- and also because Silvera offers several short chapters from other characters' perspectives, always starting with whether Death-Cast has or has not called that person. This isn't a book that's going to work for readers who demand a happily ever after, but it's such a thought-provoking and sweet read nonetheless.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.