Review: Cemetery Boys

Written by Aiden Thomas

From Aiden Thomas‘s website:

A trans boy determined to prove his gender to his traditional Latinx family summons a ghost who refuses to leave.

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

When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his true 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 off 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.

Read this if you love:

  • LGBTQ protagonist who is the sweetest ever
  • a deep dive into Latinx culture and the Day of the Dead
  • all the heartstrings pulled.

My Review

What I loved.

This book broke my heart and put it back together again in such a lovely way.

Because the central character Yadriel identifies as trans-gay, this story could have focused on Yadriel’s transition, as Dreadnought did. I enjoyed the fact that you meet Yadriel after he came out. You see the aftereffects of this throughout the book, and so while he gets frustrated that he’s not accepted fully by his family, who want him to continue with traditional roles, there are members in his family and life who accept him as he is. And as you learn more about Yadriel, you understand that the right away, the deity he serves accepts him as he is too.

Instead, he has to fight his outcastness in other ways, such as seeing the spirits around him and not letting anyone think he’s crazy, or talking to himself.

I also really enjoyed Julian’s character. The dude has serious impulse control issues, and likely was very ADHD without any support. But he is loving and caring, and has the biggest heart, and you can see how this lovable extrovert is the perfect foil for the introverted Yadriel. Mad props to Aiden Thomas for creating lovable characters who are flawed and perfect all at the same time. It’s a real skill. And the amount of representation is thoroughly appreciated, both in culture, in sexuality, and in neurodivergence.

I also like that they tease at a possible sequel, but can be read as a standalone novel.

What I didn’t love.

To be honest, there’s not a lot I don’t love about this book. 

It was hard for me to place the genre of this book (see what I settled on below) because there are elements of Romance and Maturation plots mixed within the Horror or Status genres. But with all that said, I believe the Romance and Maturation parts actually support the Horror and Status genres.

Also, there were certain elements that I could see foreshadowed a mile away, but I won’t go into spoilers here. Aiden does a great job at masking some things from the reader by using emotion to distract the reader, but there were some others that I definitely saw.

But that didn’t detract from the story at all, because in the end, I wanted to know how Yadriel would navigate the story.

I don’t recommend this book to readers who have recently lost loved ones. You may want a break from your grief before diving in.

My Analysis

POV:

3rd, close past, Yadriel.

Genre:

Internal: Status – Admiration
Global Values: Failure or Success
Core Emotion: Respect

External: Horror – Supernatural
Global Values: Death / Life
Core Need: Survival
Core Emotion: Excitement

Controlling idea:  Living in between who you are and who others expect you to be is damning.

“Being trapped between the land of the living and the land of the dead wore on a spirit, chipping away at their humanity.”

Aiden Thomas, Cemetery Boys

Other:

Violence: low, but critical.
Gore: low, but dealing with death.
Romance/Sex: kissing.
Series: Standalone.
Reality Clover: Fantasy.

Reference Info:

Website: https://www.aiden-thomas.com/cemetery-boys
Twitter: @aidenschmaiden
IG: @aidenschmaiden