Mary and Emily got up early this Wednesday morning to have a coffee together and chat about the final book of the YA Book Club: Winter Games series, They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. Read what they think about this book (including all the spoilers), and then check out the upcoming line-up for YA Book Club in Paradise, which will begin at the end of May and run until the end of August. We hope you'll read along with us.
Mary: They Both Die at the End is a novel by Adam Silvera that follows two young boys, Rufus and Mateo, on their end day—the day they’re destined to die. In a world where everyone knows the day they’ll die (via phone call, which is weird and we can talk about later), does it matter how you live your last day? Does it matter that both boys will die at the end of their shared day? I have to admit, I was really really intrigued by the premise of the book. It’s near future speculative fiction, which is something I love. And the culture built up around knowing when you’ll die, the “Decker” boards online and stuff, was just really interesting.
Emily: Same. Even though I found the name "Decker" really annoying.
Mary: Yeeeeah. I didn't get it. It's not clever.
Emily: I don't get it either. What does it mean? And also, it reminded me too much of Blade Runner. Because Rick Deckard. That's what I kept thinking. Also that's a superior book. I'm throwing a lot of shade already.
Mary: Ha! Very true. The only sense I could make of it was Death Cast (the network that makes the literal call on who dies what day)> DeC>Decker.
Emily: OKAY WHATEVER, ADAM SILVERA.
Mary: Yeah, we can go ahead and say we didn’t love this book. Even though we wanted to!
Emily: I wanted to so badly. I've heard so many good things about Adam Silvera as an author, and the premise of this book sounded so cool. When I started reading this book, I told you it was boring and you didn't believe me because how could something with this premise be boring? But he did it. He made it boring.
Mary: He did. The characters felt very flat to me.
Emily: I could not stand the Rufus chapters. He has this dumb bad boy voice which was really obnoxious. You've been in foster care for a few months, Rufus. Calm down.
Mary: Mateo is a recluse who has lived in fear of dying and Rufus is a reckless dude who is supposed to be tough but is a softie. And Silvera took tough as saying “yo” a lot and getting in one fight. It felt like Rufus was one step away from saying, HELLO HUMANS I AM NOT A ROBOT I AM A TEEN BOY YO YO. It felt like a robot programmed to be a teen. THE KIDS SAY YO THESE DAYS DON'T THEY.
Emily: Right. Like after Rufus and Mateo kiss for the first time, Rufus is like, "You made me better, yo." And I was like wtf.
Mary: UUUUUGH. I groaned out loud. I also got tired of Mateo’s paranoia about everything. It’s like both of these characters were very one note, and I just couldn’t get past that. I didn’t care about their friends or their personal goals because they didn’t feel real.
Emily: Also can I just say, for a person who is supposed to be this selfless dude who puts everyone else first, Mateo spends a lot of his end day forcing Rufus to do shit for him.
Emily: They have to go to the hospital to see his dad. Then they have to go see his friend. Then they have to go to the cemetery to see his mom. Then they go see his friend again. Then his dad again... Omg Mateo nobody wants to do this shit with you.
Mary: The strength of the novel, I thought, was in the culture built up around knowing when you’d die. There were services especially for Deckers to give them a nice last day, but the book was pushing for this sentimental idea that nothing but loved ones can make a nice last day. Which I get it but still.
Emily: It was really sappy.
Mary: I’m not wild, I’m kind of a Mateo in that respect. I don’t think knowing I’d die would make me do anything crazy on my last day. I’d probably just like, get some Chinese food and watch movies and play games with friends.
Emily: And most of the book is just them running around doing random shit and saying sappy things during it.
Mary: Yeah, it was suuuuper sappy.
Emily: I feel like we're all over the place because we're so mad at this book. Should we explain how Rufus and Mateo met?
Mary: Take it away.
Emily: So this was one of the most interesting parts of the book to me. Mateo doesn't want to spend his last day alone, but his dad is in a coma and he doesn't want to burden his bff Lidia who just lost her boyfriend recently. So he logs into this app called Last Friend where you can meet other people to hang with you on your last day. And that's where he meets Rufus. At first I was wondering how the hell Rufus would end up on this app because he had so many friends. He calls his friends "The Plutos" because of course he does. He's hard like that.
Emily: I was just imagining a gang of Sailor Plutos but whatever.
Mary: Oh noooooo.
Emily: But yeah Silvera has to create this whole convoluted storyline where Rufus's friends get arrested and he's on the run from the cops. And so of course in that moment Rufus thinks let me create an online friendship profile.
Mary: It was silly, because even though it technically made sense it felt very contrived. He never seemed truly scared of the cops. He never really felt on the run. It could have been really interesting to talk about how the police treat end days.
Emily: I guess the deal with that is he knew the cops knew he was gonna die. So whatever. They touch on it a little, because the one cop talks about how his partner died because some Deckers go crazy on their last day, and he got killed by a Decker somehow. Idk.
Mary: Ah, right right.
Emily: But yeah the rules of this world weren't very developed.
Mary: A lot of the time while I was reading, I wanted to say, “Sounds fake, but OK.”
Emily: I also didn't understand why they were trying to be so careful all day just because they got the call. Like presumably, you're going to die when you die, so it's not like things become more dangerous. The call doesn't make you magically more susceptible to death.
Mary: They wanted more time I guess, but then the way they died was stupid and felt like it could have been prevented. Again, I groaned at how they died. I spent a lot of time while reading worrying that they wouldn’t die at the end like I was promised, and then when it finally happened I was so irritated.
Emily: I was just irritated this whole book. But why did it irritate you?
Mary: Because it felt so stupid. At the very beginning of the book, Mateo mentions how their stove is broken in the apartment, and he tells the super not to worry about it because he’s going to die that day anyway and his dad is in a coma, and therefore not using the stove. Then, at night after being all cuddly with Rufus, Mateo goes to make some tea for them AND THE STOVE CATCHES ON FIRE AND THEY DIE! Well Rufus lives a little longer.
Emily: Moral of the story is call the landlord when shit is broken.
Mary: My first thought was, if you have tea, like if you have tea in your home, why do you not have an electric teakettle? You're just doing yourself a disservice.
Emily: Moral of the story is get an electric tea kettle.
Mary: Yes. I can stand behind that moral.
Emily: Electric tea kettles are awesome. And save lives apparently.
Mary: Mmmmhm. We tried to warn you. I also find it hard to believe or get behind that Rufus and Mateo were IN LURVE after one day of knowing each other. BUT I guess I’m not a super intense person romantically. I’m a slow burn type.
Emily: I find it hard to believe that they just cuddled. Or are we supposed to believe they fucked and are just being coy about it? Because if it's my last day and I decide I'm in love with someone, we're having sex.
Mary: Maybe they thought if they had sex they’d die in a horrific sex injury thing.
Emily: WORTH IT. BETTER THAN DYING FROM A TEA RELATED INJURY.
Emily: Oh I wanted to talk about the changing perspectives, because I felt like Silvera was trying to do something similar to what Nicola Yoon did in The Sun is Also A Star, but The Sun is Also A Star was good. And to be clear, this is not.
Mary: Yes, yes. I thought the exact same thing.
Emily: There are a lot of parallels really. These two people are spending one whole day together, knowing they likely won't get any more. And it switches back and forth between their POVs but also throws in other characters' POVs.
Mary: Yes, and we get to see how small players are connected to the main story.
Emily: Why didn't it work here?
Mary: Well. For one the characters aren’t believable; they’re flat and hard to see as having motivations and feelings. And adding more of them didn’t make me feel any better about that.
Emily: Yeah The Sun is Also a Star made me cry, and no one even died. People die in this book and I was just like meh.
Mary: That novel was also sentimental, but in a different way. The characters felt complete on their own, so it was more heartbreaking when you began to see how happy they made each other and how they’d be ripped apart.
Emily: Yes. And how they affected other people's lives. Like the security guard. All of it was just like, "ugh I know this is a little sappy, but damn it's working on me." This was, "ugh this is so fucking sappy and I'm bored and who even are these people"
Mary: I agree. I am kind of groaning just thinking about this book.
Emily: Also how many times did they say shit like, "You didn't just keep me alive, you taught me to live." Gag me.
Mary: Yeah. Gross.
Emily: Except it was probably, "You didn't just keep me alive, you taught me to live, yo." Because that's how the kids talk.
Mary: And then you made me tea and died. Because you didn’t have an electric kettle.
Emily: Exactly. Also like... what was the point of the whole side story with the famous author who died? Please explain. Like eventually the person who interviewed him is the person who kills Rufus? That's it? That's a STRETCH.
Mary: I don’t even know. I wanted more out of that because it was more interesting to me. Because he was an actor in what was a thinly thinly veiled Harry Potter series.
Emily: Who also wrote a book. It was just really dumb.
Mary: But didn’t really write it. It was plagiarized! *gasp*
Emily: Also that interview was so bad. I would be so pissed if I died giving an interview that was so bad.
Mary: It was. Here's a Q. Has Adam Silvera ever heard anyone talk?
Emily: Maybe not. Now I'm watching a YouTube vid with him. HE JUST CALLED HIS OWN BOOK VERY BEAUTIFUL.
Mary: HE WORKED ON IT FOR FIVE YEARS.
Emily: I am shocked. Maybe he shouldn't have worked on it for so long.
Mary: I’m disappointed because this book should have been one i liked. And I really appreciated that there were lots of different types of characters—a single mom, a bisexual tough guy, etc... but they weren't real.
Emily: I really really wanted to like this one. He seems like a nice dude and I hate to be mean about his book because he's so active on social media with the fans. Which is nice. Not surprisingly, The Sun is Also A Star is on the book shelf behind him in this video. WE KNOW YOU READ IT, ADAM. WE SEE IT.
Mary: Hehehehe. This video is a must-watch.
Emily: Anything else? Or are we done with this BS?
Mary: I feel pretty done with it. Let’s wash our hands of it, yo.
Emily: Okay. What did you rate it, yo?
Mary: I didn’t rate it because I was so mad and didn’t want to rate in anger.
Emily: Yo, I gave it 2 stars.
Mary: I think I’d give it 2, just for the premise being interesting.
Emily: Same. Cool. Well that end our YA WINTER GAMES. We'll be back at the end of May with Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu.
Mary: We get one month off!
Emily: Yes, we get one month off, which is good because Susan and I are reviewing Bachelor Nation in April. Oh also I'm getting married.
Mary: Oh yeah. That's happening.
Emily: And I'll go ahead and put the list of books at the end of this post, yo. So you can READ ALONG WITH US. And then I'm going to make more coffee and throw this book away.
Here's the full list of books for this summer's YA Book Club in Paradise:
1. Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu - End of May
2. This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki - End of June
3. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake - End of July
4. The Earth, My Butt and Other Round Things by Carolyn Mackler - End of August
See you then, YA readers!