“The First To Die at the End” is the perfect prequel


Photo via Cavalier Books

After craving a sad book and going back to reread “They Both Die at The End,” I was overjoyed by the news of a prequel. The prequel was set to entail the beginnings of the death cast, a system that tells its users on their death day that they’ll die in this dystopian world, giving them the opportunity to live that last day to its fullest. The first book was heart shattering, and this prequel was even better. 

As someone who adored the concept of death cast and the story of two star-crossed lovers on their last day, I was more than happy to get yet another similar story that, once again, broke my heart with its raw emotion and story.

The book starts off by introducing its two main characters, Valentino and Orion. Valentino has just moved to NYC to pursue his modeling dreams and Orion already knows his days are numbered because of his heart disorder. Valentino is death cast’s first call, and the book revolves around him and Orion fulfilling his firsts and giving him the best last day he could ever have.

Something I loved about this book was the different perspectives. The book takes time to let you picture and understand all of its characters and their thoughts, rather than just providing a glance. That specific detail makes the book feel more heartfelt, as it’s not one part of a person you’re seeing, but all of them. I loved the characterization of Valentino and Orion. They weren’t reckless or unlikeable people; they had stories to tell, and these weren’t throwaway sob stories, but things that made them who they were, making their actions and their love all the more profound.

Although the book was enjoyable, there were some things that fell flat. The transitions were choppy, going from a really big moment with Orion and Valentino to a side character who wasn’t as important.

The structuring made it feel a bit rushed at times as well. The book is organized by time — starting from the moment Valentino is called to his death, but there’s so much going on in those 24 hours it becomes hectic. This left me conflicted at the end because I was devastated by Valentino’s death, but there were so many people and things going on I couldn’t completely soak in the emotion.

Though the book did have its ups and downs, the romance between the protagonists was its main upside. Valentino’s brightness before his death and Orion’s spunk made them a humorous duo. Though they meet in one day, they go through so much together. That one day feels like an eternity as you’re constantly watching for what could cause Valentino’s death, and find out the result of his heartbreaking death wish.

The book was a whirlwind of a romance: there was heart, there was love and it was perfect. If you love sad books that completely engross you, and if you loved the first edition of the series, this book is perfect for you.