No matter how we choose to live, we both die at the end.
We are all dying. Everyone knows this. There’s no getting out of it. We are going to die no matter how virtuous, safe, loved, or important we are. But very few properly appreciate the opportunity we have by knowing that death is coming. We tend to think of the date of death as being an abstract, distant thing. But what if it’s not? What if it’s tonight? If you were to die in your sleep tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent your last day?
They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera is a YA novel that presents a near-future in which people are given a concrete opportunity to make that last day count. A mysterious service alerts those who are going to die at some point in the next 24-hours. There is no escaping or changing that destiny; those who receive an alert by the service will absolutely die in that time period. Two teenage boys receive alerts on the same night. How do they spend their last day? Does the knowledge of their imminent death assist them in truly living?
The book’s prose is functional – it isn’t indescribably beautiful nor distractingly awful. The really important thing for stories like this, though, are the characters. It is going to suck without the right characters. Fortunately, the characters are realistic and completely likable.
The exploration of the impact of that mysterious alert service on society is relatively basic. The book provides a few social-media-related insights, but this is not the book for you if you are interested in intricate “out-there” science-fiction world-building. The world is very recognizably the world we live in now, just with a few tweaks here and there to incorporate the reality of the knowledge of certain impending death.
I gave this book five stars because I enjoyed the characters and because it made me think about my own life. After all, we don’t NEED a phone call for a heads-up, we know our deaths are going to happen sooner or later. “Carpe diem” and “YOLO” and “seize the day” have all become trite cliches — and some days just ain’t gonna be seized — but it is important to make sure that the overall experiences, the general trajectory of our lives, are where we want them to be going and that we’re spending our time on this Earth how we want to be. We ALL die at the end.
Rating: 5 stars