Story Rating: 4.75 stars
Audio Rating: 4.75 stars
Narrator: Adam Crouch
Length: 8 hours, 30 minutes
Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez to tell him that he is going to die today. At 18, it’s a blow to Mateo, who always lived his life cautiously. With his mother dead and his father in the hospital, Mateo is not sure what to do with himself and downloads the Last Friend app to help him with his End Day.
On the same day, Death-Cast calls Rufus Emeterio to tell him that he is also going to die that day. At 17, Rufus has already lived through the deaths of his entire family on the day they got the call and the group foster home he now lives at has become his new family. For different reasons, Mateo and Rufus want to have an adventure on their last day and meet up to live it together.
This book has been on my radar since it was released in 2017. It’s difficult not to notice the title and our TBR Pile Week Challenge was the perfect time to finally move it off my TBR list. I try to find special books for Challenge Month and this book is definitely a special one.
The title of this book, They Both Die at the End, is meant to give it away. There is no last-minute reprieve for Mateo and Rufus and the beginning spells out the end. While the title tells you the ending, it doesn’t give you the story and it’s what happens between that time that makes the difference.
It was Mateo’s nature to live cautiously and risk-free, but being on his own for his End Day becomes too much for him. In a world where death gives you 24-hours notice and a way to find a last friend, Mateo still has to wade through people looking to exploit those that have received the call. There’s never a good time to learn you will die and Rufus gets his call at an inconvenient time and the notifications for both guys set off a chain of events.
The story is told from both Mateo and Rufus’ POVs. There are also passages from several secondary characters and there are important tie-ins and crossovers at the heart of the story and, while not all of them completely captured my attention, they all serve a purpose to complete the story. But the true heart of this story is both Mateo and Rufus, who are both insanely likable characters. They both decide they want to live differently and have the greatest of adventures on their last day. They also fall in love. Rufus, who is bisexual, and had recently broken up with a girlfriend, and Mateo, who has never had a boyfriend and hasn’t come out to anyone, find their place when they are almost out of time. A spark is ignited between the two, but the one thing they do not have is time.
There are 100 and then 100 more what-ifs in this book and you can drive yourself mad questioning if the outcome would be the same if Rufus and Mateo didn’t know it was their End Day. And, equally as maddening is watching the countdown clock and the tension of when and how they will end their day. With not so subtle foreshadowing, plot lines designed to pull you along, and a seemingly endless amount of connections all around Mateo and Rufus, the tension is extreme until the last second.
This book will hit everyone differently and both adults and young adults will be able to find what they need from it. For some, it will be an all-out sob fest; for others, it can be sad, hopeful, or thoughtful. It’s a story that illuminates the bonds of friendship and fate and choices. The last sentence is a true gut punch to finish off their story and, while the ending is haunting, the victory is in how Mateo and Rufus chose to live.
The audio of this book is amazing. It’s clear from the beginning that this is a professional production and the sound quality has that extra something. There are three narrators here—one for chapters in Mateo’s POV, one for chapters in Rufus’ POV, and one for the larger cast of secondary characters. It was an interesting choice to have a third narrator and that worked well for me. I am not familiar with any of the narrators, but the voices for Mateo and Rufus were perfect for their characters. With just enough emotion for every scene, Adam Crouch and Robbie Daymond got every single thing right for Mateo and Rufus. Bahni Turpin was the third narrator and, while it took me longer to get used to the cadence of her tone for the snippets of connections throughout the book, I appreciated it was done in a voice separate from the two leads. On a side note, there are thoughts from the author that are not available on the audio that are available in the ebook. To really ramp up all the feels of this emotional tale, this audio, and this story, is highly recommended.
The cover here is also perfect and truly captures the feel of the story. The paperback cover also has additional artwork that further ties into the story. A story worth your time from the cover to the last page.
This review is part of our Reading Challenge Month for TBR Pile Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win one of two great audiobook bundles from Tantor Audio (you can see the details and full event prize list here)! Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing grand prize sponsored by NineStar Press: a Kindle Paperwhite loaded with 50 NineStar Press books! You can get more information on our Challenge Month here (including all the contest rules) and more details on TBR Pile Week here.