Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
If you are looking for an emotional young adult story with paranormal elements, Cemetery Boys is the perfect book for you. Cemetery Boys follows a teenaged transgender male named Yadriel who is trying to prove his identity to his family. After a string of murders, Yadriel decides to summon a ghost with his brujo powers, but ends up summoning the wrong spirit.
The strong points of the book include (but are not limited to) the characters and the culture. When I initially read that the ghost summoned would be the “high school bad boy,” I was convinced that I would not like the character. However, as I read more and more, I found Julian’s personality to be so much more than the synopsis gives him credit for: He is loyal, brave, and accepting while also being funny and sarcastic. Similarly, I found Yadriel’s character to be a delight to follow. His journey with identity is so wonderfully done; you can see his struggles and successes as he proves to his family that he truly is a brujo. Latinx culture is also seamlessly mixed with the story. There are some beautiful scenes about Día de los Muertos, where Yadriel is able to communicate with his ancestors who have passed on. In particular, this book thrives when discussing the intersection of Yadriel’s gender identity and his cultural background.
My main complaint with this book has to do with the predictability of the plot. In essence, the story is a murder mystery where a few men end up dead. I guessed the murderer at around page 50 and was not surprised at all by the ending. My second plot critique does involve some spoilers, but to keep it vague: I like when decisions have consequences. Some of these characters seemed to make tough calls, but not face adequate repercussions.
Do I think these criticisms break the book? Absolutely not. Cemetery Boys is much deeper than the plot. Rather than being about a murder-mystery, this story is about love, identity, and family. And in those aspects, this book truly shines. –Review by Anika F. ’21
For those who enjoyed this book, Anika has recommended Felix Ever After for you to check out!
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