Book Review: Cemetery Boys, by Aiden Thomas

I promised a full review of this book… a few months ago when I read it with all the other Lodestar YA novels. I’ve been procrastinating on the delivery, but I still love the book just as much as when I first read it!

Cover of Cemetery Boys: Over a purple background with a giant moon overhead, two brown boys standing back to back. The one looking towards the reader holds a flower in his hand. He looks eager and ready to spring to action. The second boy looks stern. 
There are tombs in the background. Over the two boys, with the moon like a halo, stands a woman's figure in an old timey dress, with a flower crown and a bloody skull for a face.

The Synopsis

Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.

When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.

However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie up some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.

The Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I had loads of thoughts about this book, and I definitely want to spotlight it, but with the passage of time I find myself just thinking “lovely! cute! trans rep!” and that’s all my brain can come up with now.

Joke aside, I found the setting very interesting, with the author’s own take on brujx, and features the Day of the Dead and associated traditions quite heavily. I’m not Latina, so I can’t comment on that, except to say that it’s refreshing to see Latinx characters and traditions in an Own Voices and positive light. Absolutely loved the idea of ghosts actually, physically coming back

It also grapples with being trans in a community/society that is pretty traditional in terms of gender, and I loved the complexity between supportive community and that particular difficulty.

The relationships between the teen characters are absolutely amazing, and also hilarious. I love them, I love how supportive of each other they are, and I loved the quibbling even more, I think! The whole thing was really emotional, from Yadriel’s relationship with his family leading to him doing his own ritual, to the whole thing with Julian’s and his cousin’s murder – it all adds up to a Lot of conflicting emotions about death, considering the specifics of magic in this universe, and I love how that was explored softly but with a great heart.

The answer to the murder mystery was a bit obvious (to me) but not too obvious by which I mean I saw it coming from a mile away buuut it was still very satisfying to be right about that.

Overall it was just a lovely, quick YA read with loads of representation, and loads of feelings, and I 100% recommend it!

Barnes & Noble | Bookshop UK (affiliate link) | Portal Bookshop | or listen to it on Scribd (affiliate link)

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