Book Review: Cemetary Boys by Aiden Thomas

Title: Cemetary Boys
Author: Aiden Thomas
Released: September 01, 2020 (Hardcover)
Series: N/A
Rating: ★★★★★

Description: A trans boy determined to prove his gender to his traditional Latinx family summons a ghost who refuses to leave Aiden Thomas’s paranormal YA debut Cemetery Boys, described by Entertainment Weekly as “groundbreaking”.

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 him to leave.

Please keep in mind that this review contains spoilers for the entire book. Read with caution. If you click the “Read More”, it is under the assumption you either don’t care about spoilers or you’ve already read the book.

From the moment I picked up this book, I really felt a certain energy from it. Was it the hype? Honestly, I try my best to avoid the hype but when I saw that it had a very strict Latinx focus. Granted, there are topics about racism and xenophobia being brought up in the book. There’s also transphobia brought on by family members who are still trying to understand and change from their traditional ways.

And yet, the story was extremely easy to follow, to understand, and to enjoy.

One thing that I really enjoy about this book is how I could just feel Yadriel’s energy coming from it. He is truly passionate about not just who he is as a person, but the fact that he’s a brujo. He deeply cares so much about the community and their customs – but there’s one character that I especially enjoyed.

I absolutely adored Julian Diaz.

He’s extremely charming and there were some moments where I was unsure about where this story was going to go – but I knew I was in good hands with Yadriel. Sometimes it’s easy to say that Yadriel was the more level-headed one and that Julian is “stormy”, but they both really reflected each other in a way that’s extremely relatable to someone like me – a cis, straight Latina woman. Of course, this goes beyond what they are – this goes to who they are. They are young teenagers navigating and trying to make giant decisions that will affect their lives (and the afterlife). Regardless, I was immediately attached to the characters before me, and especially Maritza.

I loved their relationship and some can argue that it may seem rushed, which is understandable, but it didn’t really bother me that much. Granted, I wish there were more hints about how his uncle was doing these things in the first place. It’s understandable, but I feel that it wasn’t extreme enough for me to really care about the uncle’s plight so much.

Honestly, everything felt rushed in the right way – the clock was ticking before Julian would disappear on Dia de Los Muertos and trying to find his missing cousin. When they found the missing, I was scared that they wouldn’t make it in time. I was scared that this relationship would end before it could truly begin, and I was scared that Yadriel really would end his own life in order to save them all.

And then, Martiza came to save the day. She’s honestly the cousin I wish I had growing up. A best friend who’s proud to be who she is and always does her best to support Yadriel along with her two best boys. She was such a treasure to read and I always found myself laughing at her jokes, comments, and antics. I was really glad that the author created her like this because Yadriel was always in his head and Maritza always brought out the best in him. Of course, not in the way Julian did, but to the best of her ability.

I really appreciated that there was an attempt to talk about the different Hispanic and Latine cultures present in East LA. If anything, this just made me miss Los Angeles even more so, more than I already have. I already know that I’ll be re-reading this as I imagine being a teenager again with these kids. Oh, and the mystery is fun as well. It seems like it’s a heavy read, but it’s surprisingly light. To me, there’s a good balance between the subplots that are going on in these kids’ lives during this singular time but I can certainly understand how someone might be a bit frustrated that Yadriel stops focusing on the main mystery after a while.

And what amazes me is that – this is Aiden Thomas’s debut! If this is their debut, I can’t imagine the powerful stories they have yet to share! I think I may re-read this again later…!

About Lily

A fujoshi who won't shut up about anime, manga, video games, BJDs, nendoroids, and anime conventions. She apparently can't stop writing either.

Posted on January 12, 2021, in ★★★★★ – 5 Stars, Book Reviews, Book Series, Oneshots and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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