Review: They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

Publisher: HarperTeen
Release date: September 5, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 384
Goodreads || Book Depository

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.

In the tradition of Before I Fall and If I Stay, They Both Die at the End is a tour de force from acclaimed author Adam Silvera, whose debut, More Happy Than Not, the New York Times called “profound.”

MY THOUGHTS

I received a review copy of this novel from HarperCollins Canada. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I love contemporary and I love Adam Silvera but I did not love They Both Die at the End. I found it to be quite underwhelming in its world building and plot and didn’t really connect with it at all. Adam Silvera’s two previous novels both made me cry but I didn’t really feel a single thing as I was reading this book (besides a moment when one of the characters visited his dad who is in hospital… but only because my dad recently passed).

The plot and premise of the novel itself is quite intriguing. Main characters, Mateo and Rufus, both find out from Death-Cast that they are going to die that day. But they don’t know when and they don’t know how. Both of them sign up to an app called Last Friend and become each other’s Last Friend, meaning that they get to spend the day together, doing things that they would never do otherwise. Now this sounds like a wonderful story with lots of adventure and character development (at least until they die), but I was quite disappointed with the plot. The book lacked excitement and adventure and I felt like I was literally just watching two kids walking around New York City, not doing much at all. The premise of the book reminded me of Denton Little’s Deathdate, which I highly enjoyed, and was kind of disappointed that They Both Die at the End didn’t really live up to my hype. And don’t even get me started on the ending…

I also had a really big problem with the lack of world building and explanation in this book (and now that I think about it… Adam Silvera’s other books too). There was no explanation of how Death-Cast works or how it even came about. While I can forgive this in a near-future contemporary, I can’t really forgive it in a book that is set in 2017. I wanted much more background on the whole system and there was really none given at all. Because I’d already read about a very similar system in Denton Little’s Deathdate, this novel and this world really needed a lot more to capture my attention.

I did like Mateo and Rufus as characters and I enjoyed how different they were. Mateo was very much the quiet and passive one of the two and Rufus was kind of the bad boy. I liked what they did for each other and how their characters grew throughout the course of the day that they spent together. But I didn’t really find their friendship to be that special and I also didn’t really feel any spark between them. Which brings me to the romance in the book. I found the romance to be quite unnecessary and I felt that it detracted from the story. It felt forced and really reinforced my current dislike for books that throw in a romance even though there are stronger and more important themes to be explored in the book.

Despite all my criticisms, I did like the writing in the novel. Adam Silvera’s prose is beautiful as always and I really liked the extra POVs of minor side characters that he threw in. It added to the narrative of the book and I found that it made the novel much more interesting to read. They Both Die at the End is definitely not one of my favourite contemporaries of this year but it did tick all the boxes when it came to writing and tone.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books Every Budding Psychologist Should Read

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by the group over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week I thought I’d feature some books about various mental illnesses that I think are very well handled.

1. The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

This book deals with depression and teen suicide very well. It was one of my favourite YA releases of last year and just one of my favourite mental illness YA novels.

2. When We Collided by Emery Lord

The main character in this book suffers from bipolar disorder and I thought the disorder was very well represented in this novel. Both the depression and mania aspects were handled well and it’s probably the best novel about bipolar disorder that I’ve read so far.

3. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

This one is an absolute tear-jerker. But it’s completely worth it. Like if you want a good punch in the feels, read this one. But there are a whole heap of trigger warnings: self-harm, suicide, rape, emotional abuse, child abuse… the list goes on.

4. Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

Finding Audrey is about a 14 year old girl who suffers from severe anxiety and depression. Despite its heavy themes, it’s actually quite a funny and lighthearted read. It’s super relatable and a highly enjoyable read.

5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

This novel is confronting but so well written and conceptualised. It’s dark and hard-hitting but so worth the read. It’s written in epistolary format and definitely one that you should dive into and experience for yourself.

6. The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

This novel deals with schizophrenia and is a great one to read if you’re looking to transition from YA to adult. The writing is impactful and you get a really good sense of schizophrenia and how it affects those suffering from it from just the main character’s voice.

7. Paperweight by Meg Haston

Paperweight is about eating disorders and is set at an institution for eating disorders. The author herself has previously battled an eating disorder and I thought the setting and how eating disorders were represented were really authentic.

8. My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

This is another one of my favourite books about depression and suicide ideation. I really liked the characters in this novel and connected with them straight away. I liked how suicide ideation was explored in this book and it stood out from all of the other books I’ve read that deal with teen suicide.

9. More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

I wasn’t enamoured by the first half of this book but it came home really strongly. Another book about depression and suicide (gosh, I just love these sad books), I thought it was really unique and I enjoyed the combination of LGBTQ+, mental illness and sci-fi elements in this one a lot!

10. Dreamology by Lucy Keating

This one isn’t really about mental illness but I liked the dream and consciousness aspects of Dreamology a lot. It wasn’t the best and I’d say that it was halfway there because most of those dream elements weren’t actually resolved. It felt like the author didn’t know where to go and didn’t want to do the research so she took the easy way out and decided not to explain ANYTHING. But I still thought it was a unique and interesting concept.


Thanks for reading! See you next time!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Debut Authors Who Have Me Looking Forward To Their Sophomore Novel

ten-exciting-debut-authors

Another Tuesday, which means another Top Ten Tuesday! This is a weekly feature hosted by the team over at The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s topic is top debut authors who have me looking forward to their next release. I have ten 2015 debut authors to share, so let’s get started.

1. Becky Albertalli

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is one of my all-time favourite contemporaries! It’s a light and adorable read, with a really important message. It’s an absolutely fantastic LGBTQ+ book that I think all young readers would enjoy!

2. Nicola Yoon

There was so much hype surrounding this YA debut and I loved it just as much as everybody else seemed to. It was creative and had lots of wonderful illustrations in it. Hopefully Nicola’s next book is just as wonderful as Everything Everything!

3. Adam Silvera

More Happy Than Not was a book that gave me all the feels. I cried like a baby when the book was over and immediately wanted to read something else by Adam Silvera. Sadly, he only had one book available. I’m super excited to see what his next book is about!

4. Renee Ahdieh

The Wrath and the Dawn was probably my favourite fantasy debut that I read this year (not that I read very many to begin with). I thought it was such a great beginning to the duology. It had a fantastic set of characters and the romance was OMG. I devoured this book in just one day.

5. David Arnold

I really liked David Arnold’s debut novel, Mosquitoland, but was frustrated with the writing style. It was overly purple prose-y and I wished it was slightly more comfortable to read. I enjoyed the story a lot so I’m still excited to pick up something else by him.

6. Jasmine Warga

I read My Heart and Other Black Holes at the beginning of the year and I loved it. I read a whole pile of books on depression and mental illness at around the same time and this debut novel really stood out as one of the best.

7. Erin Gough

The Flywheel is an Aussie YA debut that blew me away! It’s a wonderful LGBTQ+ novel and it’s one of my favourite diverse books. This book is set in Sydney and it was wonderful to be able to read a book and know where the places are. This is probably my favourite OzYA book so I highly recommend it, if you can get your hands on it.

8. Meg Haston

I really enjoyed Paperweight by Meg Haston. It was an emotional book about eating disorders and is set in a treatment facility. I thought it was a wonderful representation of eating disorders and it’s a really important book that needs to be read! I can’t wait to see what Meg Haston brings next.

9. Lauren James

The Next Together was a book that I read recently and really enjoyed. It was unique in its concept and was executed pretty well. It’s the first book in a duology so I can’t wait to see what the next book is about.

10. Melinda Salisbury

I read The Sin Eater’s Daughter at the beginning of the year and thought it was a pretty good first book in a new fantasy trilogy. I had some problems with it but loved the direction that it took at the end. Can’t wait to see what happens next.


My honourable mention goes to Sophie Kinsella’s Finding Audrey. I know that she’s not a debut author since she’s released a million adult books, but Finding Audrey is her first YA novel and I thought it was delightful! I hope she continues to write YA books because I’d pick them up in a heartbeat.

Pastry Book Tag

pastry-book-tag

I have the biggest sweet tooth, so when Jesse @ Books at Dawn tagged me to do the Pastry Book Tag, I just had to do it. I was so excited that I even modified my usual tag header into a pastry-themed one.


CROISSANT: NAME A POPULAR BOOK OR SERIES THAT EVERYONE (INCLUDING YOU) LOVES

clockworkangel clockworkprinceclockworkprincessIs there anybody out there who actually doesn’t like The Infernal Devices?! I love this series so, so much. Clockwork Princess is probably my favourite series finale ever!


MACARON: NAME A BOOK THAT WAS HARD TO GET THROUGH BUT WORTH IT AT THE END

alittlelife Man… this book.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara was amazing but my heart suffered such a beating. This novel gave me so many feels and I just felt emotionally drained after each chapter. It was also a 720 page book so it took me forever to get through it.

But it was completely worth it because A Little Life has become one of my favourite books of all time. It’s truly beautiful.


VOL-AU-VENT: NAME A BOOK THAT YOU THOUGHT WOULD BE AMAZING BUT FELL FLAT

i-was-here I was expecting a lot of great things from I Was Here by Gayle Forman but unfortunately, it fell a little bit short. Just One Day is one of my favourite YA books, and I also loved her If I Stay duology, so I thought I Was Here would blow my mind. It wasn’t a terrible book by any means – I still gave it 3 stars – but I was just expecting a lot more from it.

I just found the plot to be a little bit lacking and I don’t think the issue of teen suicide was dealt with well enough. I also wasn’t a fan of the romance.


PAIN AU CHOCOLAT: NAME A BOOK THAT YOU THOUGHT WOULD BE ONE THING BUT TURNED OUT TO BE SOMETHING ELSE

findingaudrey Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella was one that I was pleasantly surprised by. Going into the book, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to connect with the main character, who’s only 14 years old. But I ended up loving Audrey’s voice and really connected with her.

I was kind of worried that the anxiety aspects of the book wouldn’t be handled well but I was so wrong about that. I was also a bit wary of the book because I thought it would be a ‘love cures all’ kind of story but I didn’t find that to be the case at all.


PROFITEROLE: NAME A BOOK OR SERIES THAT DOESN’T GET ENOUGH ATTENTION

missperegrines hollow-citylibrary-of-soulsI read the Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children series recently and my mind was blown by how great it was! I also have reviews for Hollow City and Library of Souls.


CROQUEMBOUCHE: NAME A BOOK OR SERIES THAT’S EXTREMELY COMPLEX

snowlikeashes icelikefireSnow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch has such a grand and complex world. There are 8 kingdoms in this world – 4 are Season kingdoms that only experience one season all year round; the other 4 are Rhythm kingdoms that experience all four seasons. The magic system is also really complex and will be explored further in Ice Like Fire, I’m sure. I can’t wait to get my hands on it.


NAPOLEON: NAME A MOVIE OR TV SHOW BASED OFF A BOOK THAT YOU LIKED BETTER THAN THE BOOK ITSELF

gossip-girl This is an interesting one. I can’t think of a movie adaptation that I thought was better than the book. And I don’t really watch a lot of TV (I mainly watch Japanese dramas and variety shows). But one that sticks out in my mind is Gossip Girl.

I read the Gossip Girl books by Cecily von Zeigesar about a year or two before the TV show came out and my 14 year old self thought they were really good. But the TV show is sooo much better than the book series. I’m glad it deviated from the books.


EMPANADA: NAME A BOOK THAT WAS BITTERSWEET

morehappythannot I don’t have an image of empanadas being bittersweet. To me, they’re just awesome, but we’ll roll with it.

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera was a book that I gave 4.5 stars to. But I thought the first third of the book was just boring. I didn’t like the characters and didn’t connect with any of them and I was really close to quitting the book. But it got exponentially better after the 100 page mark, and the end of the book gave me so many feels. I ugly cried for a really long time.


KOLOMPEH: NAME A BOOK OR SERIES THAT TAKES PLACE SOMEWHERE OTHER THAN YOUR HOME COUNTRY

theminiaturist Pretty much every book is set in a country other than Australia so I had a lot of options for this one. I decided to go for something a little different and not choose something set in the US or the UK.

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton is set in 17th century Amsterdam in the Netherlands. This is the only book that I’ve read that’s set in 17th century Amsterdam and I found the setting and the whole time period to be fascinating! I learnt so much about Dutch history from this book and I thought it was a wonderful read.


PATE A CHOUX: NAME A FOOD FROM A BOOK OR SERIES THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO TRY

toalltheboys ps-i-still-love-youI was not creative with this at all but I couldn’t think of anything.

Because this is a pastry/sweets challenge, I decided to go with all of the cookies and cakes that Lara-Jean from To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and PS. I Still Love You. All the baked goods that were mentioned in this duology made me so hungry!


I TAG:


Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Characters I Just Didn’t Click With

ten-characters-didnt-click

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is characters that I did not click with. I don’t really have many main characters that I don’t click with, but I’m the type of reader that finds it hard to connect to a story if I don’t like the characters. So a lot of the titles mentioned below are ones that I gave relatively low ratings to (though there are some that had such impactful stories that I fell in love with them anyway).

These are in no particular order:

America Singer (The Selection trilogy by Kiera Cass):
I don’t think I need to elaborate on this choice. America is just the most frustrating main character, who seems to just have everything work out in her favour even though she’s not really anything special.

Dorrigo Evans (The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan):
The Narrow Road to the Deep North was the Man Booker Prize winner of 2014, and this is a book that I actually did enjoy despite not really connecting with the main character. I gave this 4/5 stars. I thought the side characters were all so strong in this book and I preferred to read about them over Dorrigo.

Molly Barlow (99 Days by Katie Cotugno):
There was little to no character development in this book and I just didn’t like Molly at all. She never learnt from the mistakes she had made in the past and I didn’t feel sorry for her at all. I found her to be frustrating, annoying and just dislikeable.

Margo Roth Spiegelman (Paper Towns by John Green):
Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Enough said.

Greg Gaines (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews):
This was a book that I could not connect to at all (I gave it a 1 star rating) and I think it’s mostly due to the fact that I couldn’t connect with Greg’s character. I didn’t find his voice to be that funny – in fact, in my Goodreads review I wrote “I found Greg to be a little bit boring, wimpy and emotionless“.

Taylor Gray (Risk by Fleur Ferris):
I didn’t click with Taylor at all, probably because she’s a 15 year old narrator with a very juvenile voice. This is definitely a book aimed at a younger audience, and as a 20-something year old it just didn’t click with me.

Cadence Sinclair Eastman (We Were Liars by E. Lockhart):
An unreliable narrator, with kind of an annoying and slightly juvenile voice. While I liked the concept of the book, I didn’t enjoy the characters at all.

Aaron Soto (More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera):
I gave this book a high 4.5 – 5 star rating because it gave me all the feels. But I didn’t really click with Aaron, the MC. He was a little bit boring and I couldn’t really relate to him at all in the first 100 pages of the book. I started to like him a little bit more after the first 100 pages, but he left a bad first impression.

Lief (The Sin-Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury):
Lief is one of the love interests in this new trilogy (series?)…and let’s just say, he’s not a part of the pairing that I like in this trilogy. First, his name is part of a plant; his name is foliage… But that aside, his character is very mysterious. He was very eager and persistent from the first time we meet him and I found myself thinking “what’s with this guy?” so many times throughout the book.

Charlie (Even When You Lie To Me by Jessica Alcott):
I could not stand Charlie, the MC, in this book at all. She was very broody, immature and self-deprecating. I thought she was a very pathetic character and there wasn’t any character development at all. I didn’t understand the point of the book and I gave it 1 star.

Review: More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

more-happy-than-not

Publisher: Soho Teen
Release date: June 2, 2015
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 1616955600
Pages: 304
Goodreads || Book Depository

The Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-relief procedure seems too good to be true to Aaron Soto – miracle cure-alls don’t tend to pop up in the Bronx projects. Aaron could never forget how he’s grown up poor, how his friends aren’t there for him, or how his father committed suicide in their one-bedroom apartment. Aaron has the support of his patient girlfriend, if not necessarily his distant brother and overworked mother, but it’s not enough.

Then Thomas shows up. He has a sweet movie-watching setup on his roof, and he doesn’t mind Aaron’s obsession with a popular fantasy series. There are nicknames, inside jokes. Most importantly, Thomas doesn’t mind about Aaron’s past. But Aaron’s newfound happiness isn’t welcome on his block. Since he can’t stay away from Thomas or suddenly stop being gay, Aaron must turn to Leteo to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he is.

MY THOUGHTS

45 stars

More Happy Than Not is a coming-of-age LGBT book, with some sci-fi elements that are reminiscent of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It is by no means an adorable, feel-good book like Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda. More Happy Than Not is a dark and heavy book that also deals with depression and suicide, as well as homophobia and hate crimes.

I have to admit, I did not like this book at all when I first started reading. For the first 100 pages, I was just not into the book. I couldn’t connect with the writing or the characters  and my attention just kept wandering away. I didn’t like Aaron or Thomas, and I thought Aaron’s friends were absolutely ridiculous and not the kind of people you’d want in your life. I actually almost gave up on the book. But then the story really picked up when we got to the next section of the book, where Aaron’s character starts making self-discoveries and accepting himself for who he is. From that point on, I was hooked. My rating immediately jumped from 2 to 5 stars. I ended up giving it 4.5 stars because of those first 100 pages, but I was so emotionally affected by the story that it feels like a 5 star book to me.

Adam Silvera has written such a heart-wrenching story about a boy who is unable to be himself because he doesn’t have the support system that he needs. His whole life, he’s been surrounded by people who tell him not to be gay. I think this is a book that everybody needs to read. It delves into the complexities of sexuality and self-identity. This isn’t just a coming out story – it’s so much more than that and I don’t think I have the proper words to describe it. But while this novel is sad and emotional (and made me cry lots and lots), it is also full of hope. It really sends the message that you don’t have to change yourself or forget the negative or ‘unwanted’ parts of yourself in order to find happiness. Because happiness comes from just being who you are.

For those of you who are looking for a romance or a love story, you’re not going to get that in this book. This is a novel about coming out to yourself, forging healthy relationships and dealing with pain. I highly recommend this beautiful novel. The first 100 pages might bore you to death and the story might break your heart, but it’s so worth it.