Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQ+
Rating: 5 STARS
When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.
To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.
If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.
“You’re still still alive in alternate universes, Theo, but I live in the real world, where this morning you’re having an open-casket funeral.”
HAHAHAHAHAHA I’M FINE. Okay, I’m totally not fine. I’m not okay. I went into this knowing this would be incredibly depressing, because have you read More Happy Than Not? But, boy, this book was painful. And also happy, in a way. It’s really unfair to read about Griffin and Theo’s adorable relationship, and then be reminded a couple pages later that he’s dead, and Griffin is suffering. Honestly, I’m pretty sure this review won’t do the book justice, but I’ll try my best.
First off, I loved Griffin. I mean, it’s basically impossible to hate him, even when he makes extremely stupid decisions (and he does that a lot). He’s grieving and he’s angry and he just feels different because he has these OCD compulsions and he’s honest. All the ingredients for a great contemporary protagonist. I remember this moment early on, while he was reading his eulogy, that I almost cried because it was so heartfelt and it all felt so real. I have never experienced grief in my life. No one close to me that I’ve loved has ever died, but I have seen others who’ve suffered through it, especially my friends. But, by God, if that’s how I felt while reading about a fictional death, I don’t know how I’ll deal with a real one. The book really feels like it was written from the heart.
We also have Wade, Theo and Griffin’s best friend that has his own problems (and ended up playing a larger part of the plot than I thought, but I’m keeping this spoiler-free), Theo, who we only get to know through flashbacks of the past and was such a genius sweetheart that I wanted to hug him and bring back to life just as much as Griffin did, and Jackson, Theo’s current boyfriend who was there when Theo died and is suffering as much as Griffin was. The relationships that Griffin had with all three of these people were so great. It was so beautiful to see the blossoming first love between Theo and Griffin; I’m a sucker for friendship-to-lover relationships, and there’s was just SO DAMN CUTE, even if it was a little sad. Jackson and Griffin also have a slowly-developing relationship, where it feels as if it’s them against the world since they’re the only two people who felt as if they knew Theo like they did. Yeah, it’s a bit awkward at first, and realistically so, because how are you supposed to talk to the current boyfriend of your dead ex that you’re still deeply in love with, but I like how they soon learned to lean on each other and how Jackson respected Griffin’s compulsions even if he felt awkward talking about them.
I’m not a huge contemporary reader myself unless it’s LGBTQ+, so this is probably the first one I’ve read in months, and I binge-read it in a day. I pre-ordered this for Christmas, and I was so excited that I just read through it all. It was that good. I wouldn’t describe the book as fast-paced, probably because I read too many thrillers, but I found the book so engrossing that I could barely put it down, which is always a thumbs up for me when I’m not a huge contemporary reader.
Also, the question on your mind might be, “Is this even more depressing than More Happy Than Not? Is that even possible?” And I’d say a definitive yes to both questions. It doesn’t even matter that the death is fictional, and that none of the characters are real – it just feels so real. It’s a painful book to read, yes, but it’s just as important as Silvera’s first novel was.
This book just made me all kinds of happy and sad and I’m a mess, and I love you Adam Silvera. I literally cannot wait for They Both Die at the End, if it’s actually coming out in September (please tell me it is).
Have you read this book yet (please do)? How did you feel about it (please fangirl with me about it)?