One Book, Two Readers – Teens Review “They Both Die at the End”

Teens: did you know that you can earn community service credit for writing a book review and submitting it to us? Today, we’ll hear from two teens who did just that, and get their different takes on the same book. Find out more about how to earn community service hours from home at cheshirelibrary.org/teens/.

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. Reviewed by Jessica N.

They Both Die at the End, the title itself is intriguing and Adam Silvera does a fantastic job creating a book that lives up to its engaging title. He allows us as the readers to think and reflect about our own lives and what we would do if we found out that we would be dying in the next 24 hours.

The book starts off with the two main characters, Mateo and Rufus, getting Death-Cast calls that they will be dying that day. This news changes their lives for the little amount of time they have left. They have to figure out how they are going to spend their last day, also known as their “End Day”, and leave their final mark on Earth. The novel also brings up topics of friendship and relationship. The Death-Cast company provides an app for the people that are going to die and allow them to make a new friend, a Last Friend, for the day.

Through this app and each character in the novel, each person has a significant story and the book itself is told from multiple perspectives. So not only are us the readers tasked with reflecting on how they would spend their last day on Earth, if we knew it was our last day, but, we get to see how people of different ages, ethnicities, and popularities spend their last days. This book is an emotional one that is well worth the read, and even though the readers know what is going to happen at the end (the characters both die), the ending is still very gutting and astonishing. Also, the author, Adam Silvera is expanding the story and coming out with two new further novels. The next one (the second one) is projected to come out later this 2022 year and titled The First to Die at the End, so there is something more to look forward to after reading the beautiful story of They Both Die at the End!

4 stars.

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. Reviewed by Claire J.

Overall, this book covered many intriguing events and evoked a variety of emotions. The “ spoiler” being in the title of the book is what drew me to pick it up, still having hope throughout the book that they would both live despite the title. It is a darker book, with themes of violence such as guns, so I do not recommend it for younger readers. The positive portrayal of LGBTQ relationships is evident throughout the book, which was pleasant to read.

Silvera takes the reader on a rollercoaster of emotions as we follow the two main characters rated to die on their last adventures on Earth. Both boys were also trying to run from their own issues aside from death. From sick fathers to running from the police, they were already struggling with the real world struggles. Although the book showed rather interesting plot points, some felt a bit boring, hence why the rating is not as high as expected. The pacing of the book was also rather slow in my opinion, although this could have been due to the fact that I do not typically read books of this genre. Another criticism of the book is that some characters were underdeveloped. Although the two main characters were well rounded with great writing skills used to make them, some other characters I felt were not as developed. Even though they had smaller roles in the overall story of the book, I thought that they could have their characters elaborated on a bit more.

I still greatly enjoyed the book, however, it was a wonderful book to read in my down time! I recommend this book to middle-schoolers and older. For science fiction and fantasy readers looking out to try realistic fiction novels, this book is a great transition.

3 stars.

Sharon Reads: The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes is a young adult novel. Cassie is seventeen and living with her father’s extended family. Her mother was a stage psychic, before being murdered. Thanks to her mother’s lessons Cassie excels at reading the body language and little details about the people around her. Cassie is approached by the FBI to join a special team of other teens with natural abilities. Joining the team would mean moving to Washington D.C. and helping to solve cold case files. Cassie cannot pass up the chance to solve her mother’s murder. However, no one on the team is quite what they seem and danger is close to home. Cassie and the unique team need to solve this case before one of them becomes the next victim.

The Naturals has just about everything you could want from a young adult novel. There is a cast of quirky and well fleshed out characters that still defy categorization, a mystery or two to solve, action scenes with life and death scenario, teenage ‘I do not fit in’ angst, and romance (a triangle of course). There are strong characters that while flawed hold true to their values and an ending that had resolution but still left me wanting more.  Cassie is an independent, caring, and strong character. She is willing to risk herself to help others, but does not take foolish risks. Michael is snarky and seems overconfident but seems to be wearing that personality as a mask to protect himself, he is naturally skilled at reading emotions. Dean, a profiler like Cassie, is the strong silent type who isolates himself and tries to control his temper. Lia is a vain, pretty teen who can tell when others are lying and the ability to lie to anyone. Sloane is a statistical genius and is more than a bit quirky. The team work with the FBI agents and are under the watchful eye of a caretaker while in the house. Of course, you throw this many teens in the house and there will be power struggles and romantic entanglements- however for the most part this is secondary to the set up of the plot and the mysteries that need solving. Cassie does spend a significant amount of time over-thinking everything, but that is part of being a sixteen year old girl.

The Naturals is at its heart a teen drama and a thriller. The danger is slow to evolve, and I was completely surprised by the final answer, even though I  had the ‘bad guy’ narrowed down to just three people by the time the full story was revealed. While readers might need to suspend their disbelief as they deal with the idea of people with the innate abilities or the idea of the FBI working with a teen of talented teens, others will just be able to shrug and move on.

The Naturals is a good start to a new series and I gave it four stars on Goodreads. I really enjoy Barnes’ writing style, and everything I loved about the characters in the Raised by Wolves series is here as well. Readers that like Cold Case, Criminal Minds, or any of the shows with a psychological look at crime solving will see something that they like in this series. I have not seen anything about the sequel to this book yet, but I will definitely be reading it when it is released.

This review was originally published on Sharon the Librarian.