Published by HarperTeen on September 5th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Magical Realism
My content rating: YA (Themes of death & dying, sex, suicide, violence)
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 and to live a lifetime in a single day.
The genre for this book is sort of hard to describe, but I guess I’d call it paranormal or magical realism. The setting feels mostly contemporary but then there’s this obviously fantastical element: the fact that people receive a call to warn them on the day they die. This fact has (rightfully) affected society in many ways, so we get a modern-day world with a twist.
What Fed My Addiction:
- The unique concept. I found the entire concept of receiving a phone call on the day you’re going to die fascinating. How would this affect the way we live our everyday lives? What types of things would you want to do on that final day? Silvera presents us with a world that’s shaped by the “Deckers”—those who are going to die that day. There are special opportunities for them to get a last-ditch chance at experiencing life—places where they can try simulated daredevil activities and such. There are online sites where people can document their last days—and where people can follow them in a sort of voyeuristic fascination (this feels particularly real to me). There are even programs where you can become “friends” with a Decker for a day. This concept feels like storytelling gold (and it makes me want to start writing fan fiction short stories about people’s last days!).
- Overcoming your past, even if it’s just for a day. Both Mateo and Rufus have regrets. They both have parts of themselves that they’d like to let go of. Mateo needs to overcome his inability to step out and take chances in life, and Rufus can’t get past the guilt of outliving his family (and some of the poor choices he’s made since losing them). But the beauty of the story is that Rufus and Mateo teach each other to live in the moment (now that they only have a few moments left) and that it’s never too late to change. (It could be argued that Rufus does most of the teaching when it comes to this, but I think that Mateo helps Rufus shed his past as well.)
- Waiting… Throughout the book you find yourself waiting and wondering how the end will come for Mateo and Rufus (and for a few other characters whose POVs are sprinkled throughout the book). There are LOTS of near-misses—in fact, I felt like maybe there were a few too many of these to feel realistic. But it did have the effect of keeping us guessing about how these characters would meet their untimely demises. And, of course, there’s plenty of dramatic tension as Mateo and Rufus, themselves, are wondering how they’ll die while still trying to squeeze every last moment out of life that they can.
What Left Me Hungry for More:
- No explanation of the ability to discern when someone will die. The characters themselves don’t know how Death-Cast works. In fact, it’s emphasized in the book that not even Death-Cast’s employees know how the information about a person’s death is known. Presumably, there’s someone who knows this information—someone running things—but we don’t ever get their perspective, or even any hint of who that could be—so the reader just has to accept the premise and choose to suspend disbelief. The lack of explanation could be a little unsettling, though.
- Slight disconnect for me. I’ll admit that, as much as I loved these characters, I still felt a slight disconnect from them. I can’t exactly put my finger on why—maybe it was just because I knew they were going to die, so it took away some of the impact? There were a couple of scenes that should have been heartbreaking, but they just didn’t really affect me the way they should have for some reason. I really liked both Mateo and Rufus, but I never quite connected to them. Maybe it was me.
This book highlights the fragility of life and the need to savor every moment.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About the Author
Adam Silvera was born and raised in the Bronx. He has worked in the publishing industry as a children’s bookseller, marketing assistant at a literary development company, and book reviewer of children’s and young adult novels. His debut novel, More Happy Than Not, received multiple starred reviews and is a New York Times bestseller. He is tall for no reason and writes in New York City.