They Both Die at the End

They Both Die at the End

by

Adam Silvera

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They Both Die at the End Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Adam Silvera's They Both Die at the End. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Adam Silvera

Silvera was born in South Bronx, New York. His family was extremely poor when he was a kid—until he was 13, his family slept in one bed. As a Harry Potter-loving teen, Silvera wrote lots of fanfiction, which introduced him to the world of writing. However, he grew up thinking he wanted to be a social worker like his mom. It wasn’t until Silvera was 21 that he felt comfortable admitting he wasn’t straight; though he most often identifies as gay, he sometimes identifies as bisexual. Silvera published his first novel, More Happy Than Not, in 2015. His literary agent is the same as author Becky Albertalli’s, and both of their debut novels sold in the same week. This led to a close friendship between the two authors, and ultimately to their co-written novel, What If It’s Us. Silvera’s struggles with depression, OCD, and suicidal thoughts have influenced many of his novels, including They Both Die at the End. He lives in Los Angeles.
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Historical Context of They Both Die at the End

They Both Die at the End is very tuned in to the social media landscape of 2017. Apps and platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter exist in the book, and the novel’s fictional platforms draw from and expand upon them. Last Friend mimics apps like Bumble BFF and Tinder Social, which are offshoots of dating apps but with a focus on helping users meet platonic friends. The novel also alludes to the growing number of apps and sites that have become compatible with Facebook or have been acquired by Facebook as the network grows in power and popularity: in the novel, Dalma Young, the fictional creator of Last Friend, is in meetings with Mark Zuckerberg (the real-life founder of Facebook) to integrate Last Friend with Facebook’s platform. The Make-A-Wish Foundation is another real-life presence that inspires a fictional counterpart: in the novel, the Make-A-Moment organization gives people once-in-a-lifetime virtual reality experiences on their last day of life, similar to how the Make-A-Wish Foundation provides experiences for terminally ill children. However, Make-A-Moment is a for-profit company rather than a charitable non-profit.

Other Books Related to They Both Die at the End

Silvera has been a vocal supporter of the Twitter hashtag #ourvoices, which was begun so that authors and readers could share children’s books featuring diverse characters that are written by authors who share the same identity markers as the characters. That is, while a novel like Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a diverse book and is touted by the organization We Need Diverse Books (and is one that Silvera himself recommends as an accompaniment to his novels), #ourvoices is intended to promote novels like Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, which centers on two gay Mexican American boys and is written by a gay Mexican American author, Benjamin Alire Sáenz. All of Silvera’s novels (They Both Die at the End; More Happy Than Not; History Is All You Left Me) feature Puerto Rican or Latinx characters, characters with mental illness, or both. Other YA books written by Latinx authors include Elizabeth Acevedo's The Poet X and NoNieqa Ramos's The Truth Is. As young adult speculative fiction, and specifically a novel that tackles questions about death, They Both Die at the End also shares similarities with Neal Shusterman’s novels like Scythe and Unwind, as well as Natalie Babbitt’s classic Tuck Everlasting. The fictional Scorpius Hawthorne books and movies that many of the novel’s characters love are a reference to the Harry Potter series, which was an influential series for Silvera—he wrote Harry Potter fanfiction as a teen.
Key Facts about They Both Die at the End
  • Full Title: They Both Die at the End
  • When Written: 2016
  • Where Written: New York
  • When Published: 2017
  • Literary Period: Contemporary
  • Genre: Young Adult Fiction
  • Setting: New York City, 2017
  • Climax: Mateo dies in a fire that starts when he tries to make tea on his broken stove.
  • Antagonist: Death; Regret; Peck and his gang
  • Point of View: First Person; Third Person

Extra Credit for They Both Die at the End

First Day, Last Day. They Both Die at the End was released on September 5, 2017—which is also Mateo and Rufus’s “End Day” (the day they know they’ll die) in the book.

Prove Them Wrong. When Silvera was trying to get his first novel, More Happy Than Not, published, he had several potential editors suggest that it would sell better if the main character weren’t gay or Puerto Rican. Silvera refused to cave; in the years since, More Happy Than Not and his other novels have received numerous awards, have topped bestseller lists, and have been touted as must-reads.