“Live every day like it’s your last.” We’ve all heard this quote before. We know that death is inevitable. Immortality has been sought but is not (yet) possible. The truth is, no matter what, you, me, everyone will one day leave this world. We just don’t know when. But if you received a call telling you that you had 24 hours left to live, how would you live it? This has been taken to the extreme in the book They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. (It’ll be referred to as TBDATE) The theme of They Both Die in the End is to live life to the fullest. To enjoy and cherish our lives and to fill it with extraordinary moments.
“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” –Oscar Wilde.
In order to live life to the fullest, you must make real moments, not fake ones. Deckers (people who are going to die) try to cram a lifetime’s full of memories into a mere 24 hours. Since the greatest memories always involve some risk, in TBDATE, there are organizations that allow deckers to experience, well, everything, through virtual reality and simulations. Deckers can complete their bucket list without fear of dying. There are 2 main organizations – Make-A-Wish and the Travel Arena. “- the gigantic screen listing all the regions you can visit, and the different kinds of tours available: Around the World in 80 Minutes, Miles of Wilds, Journey to the Center of the United States, and more” (Silvera, 281-282) It all sounds great, but the reaction? “Did you actually like that? No judgement except yes judgement.” (186) No matter how realistic the simulations are; it doesn’t compare to authentic experiences. Moreover, it just makes people realize and regret wasting time on artificial moments. And when you have less than 24 hours left to live, every second matters.
“Life has more meaning in the face of death.” –Robert Greene.
TBDATE is similar to When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (WBBA). WBBA is an autobiography that illustrates Paul’s journey from a final-year medical student to a stage IV cancer patient. He went through processes he had been through many times before – but from a different perspective. Everything Paul accomplished for suddenly vanishes, leaving him helpless. This is alike to TBDATE. A simple phone call turns a decker from a typical person to someone living with a time limit. Both suddenly realize just how fleeting life is, and they try to make the most out of it. Yes, the main character(s) in both books passed away. But they learned to live life to the fullest. After all, you never know when everything will change and, eventually, come to an end.
“People living deeply have no fear of death.” –Anais Nin.
There’s a lesser and slightly irrelevant theme that I want to address. We’re all part of a big story where no one’s the main character. In TBDATE, we get a glimpse of different deckers or people related to the decker’s perspectives and stories. It also helps show the devastation and helplessness of deckers. Their concern for friends and family. The hate for the unfairness of… everything. The frustration and anguish of family and friends. The hope that maybe, just maybe, they’ll make it out. This adds a depth in the entire story and makes the reader cry even harder. Moreover, it confirms that everyone’s lives and stories entwine in some way. You’re the main character in your own story, but in someone else’s you’re nothing but an insignificant role. Most importantly, TBDATE illustrates that no matter who you are, your story is important.
“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” –Mark Twain.
To conclude – The theme of They Both Die at the End is to live life to the fullest. Death isn’t the opposite of life. It’s a part of it. But death shouldn’t cause us to live in terror, but rather remind us to live our lives to the fullest. Life’s too brief to waste. But if you have to waste your time, waste it on amazing things.