I’ve spent years living safely to secure a longer life, and look where that’s gotten me. I’m at the finish line, but I never ran the race.Mateo Torrez
I was in Target the other day and found this book misplaced on a random shelf. I read the title and was like “spoiler alert” but then I read the blurb and thought “huh, this book actually sounds pretty interesting” and I decided to buy it. I’m glad I did because I really enjoyed the story! It was a very bittersweet story but it also makes you think about your own life and what you might do if you were told you only had 24hrs to live.
In the universe of this book, there is a service called Death-Cast that calls people to inform them that they will be dying at some point during that day. They offer resources and assistance to help fulfill any final wishes and people have established various businesses that help “Deckers” make the most of their final days – whether it’s getting the chance to virtually skydive or “traveling” the world in a simulated environment. The story follows two teenagers, Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio, two total strangers who both received the call that today is their End Date. For various reasons, both boys find themselves alone on this day. Not wanting to spend their final day alone, however, they turn to the Last Friend app which helps people in their situation find someone to spend their remaining time with. These two may have never met otherwise, but they form a quick friendship and set out to live an entire lifetime in just one day.
It’s obviously tragic and unfair learning that seventeen and eighteen-year-old boys have been marked for death but instead of being a total downer, the message of the book was actually very uplifting and inspiring. I found myself relating a lot to Mateo. He’s played it safe for pretty much all his life, anxiety and fear causing him to hide away in his house rather than going out and living the life he wishes he could. Despite his fear of dying, he sees his call from Death-Cast as a way to finally live the life he wanted – if only he could be brave enough to actually leave his room. In my own life, I often play it safe and let fear hold me back from doing a lot of things. I want to think I’d be as brave as Mateo ultimately is if I were ever in his position, but I’m not so sure.
Rufus was more outgoing than Mateo and their pairing up from the Last Friend app was probably the best thing that could have happened for both of them. Rufus helped Mateo take risks and gave him experiences he may not have had otherwise. Mateo also ended up helping Rufus face some of his fears. Their friendship ended up being very healing for the both of them and despite the lingering sadness of knowing they only had the rest of the day together, it warmed my heart knowing they had each other in that way. The fact that neither had to be alone and that they found true friendship, and possibly even love, helped soften the blow of what we knew was coming.
Mateo and Rufus were the primary narrators of the story but there were also chapters about various other people who we encounter along the way. Some are seemingly inconsequential but everything is ultimately intertwined and it was really interesting seeing this sort of ripple effect and how one action can affect something or someone else. I thought those chapters were a nice touch and really added something to the story.
Anyway, for a random find on a random shelf in Target, this was a really great and thought-provoking read and I’m glad I stumbled upon it!