Title: Cemetery Boys
Author: Aiden Thomas
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Genre: Fiction, paranormal YA
Difficulty: Mild-medium Pages: 342
Series: Standalone (to the best of my knowledge?)
Always spoiler free. Includes gay and trans representation.
Trigger warning for death and loss.
This book has been alllll over bookstagram so on pay day I treated myself, because it has been on my list for a looooooong time. I’m so glad I did!
Yadriel is ready to be a real brujo. His very traditional Latinx family aren’t so sure. Together with his cousin Maritza he decides to prove them wrong, and his decision takes him on a journey that is all about acceptance, bravery, and love.
The predominant thing that I didn’t like about this book was that it was sometimes a little simplistic in the writing and plot line. And I think that is very much to do with the fact that I’m an adult reading YA. It’s really perfectly pitched for the age range (helpfully included inside the book) of 13-18, so it’s hard to say that’s really the fault of the book – and more around the fault of the reader.
I guessed most of the main bits of the conclusion by the middle, but it wasn’t too big a deal because I didn’t get everything and it was still an interesting and thrilling conclusion. I actually found the pacing a little slow at times, and maybe could have done with more of the drama at the end, but that’s only if I was super nit-picking.
Here’s what I really loved. The characters. Literally all of them – the characterisations were done so well. The emotions of two teens in a confusing place in their lives and trying to work it out – all portrayed and written incredibly well. Also, the glimpse that Thomas gives us into a large Latinx family and the related brujx culture. I’m British; I haven’t read/watched/listened/experienced much of the incredible cultures (I know Latinx is not a monolithic culture) that the book brings to life through Yadriel’s experiences beautifully. It also didn’t matter that I didn’t know much as Thomas explained everything that needed to be explained and let the story tell the rest through context. It’s a difficult thing to get right (you can get too much exposition), but this was pretty flawless.
If I ever have children, it’s the kind of book I would want my teens to read. It’s exciting, it’s moving, it’s real and it represents a great cast of people who, for whatever reason, don’t often appear in popular teen fiction.
Well Red Reviews
Would I recommend this book? Yes, yes, yes!
“If you ever scare me like that again," he said breathlessly, "I'll kill you myself, Julian Diaz.”
“Why do you have to prove anything to anyone?"
"It’s just how it is, how it's always been. In order for them to let me be a brujo—"
"You don't need anyone's permission to be you, Yads”
“Queer folks are like wolves,” Julian told him. “We travel in packs.”
“Yadriel's soul ached. He leaned closer, his hands reaching out, fingers wanting to knot into Julian's jacket and pull him closer.
But they grasped at air. There was nothing to hold on to.”
TransEDU provides a good list of organisations in the UK that support and/or advocate for the rights of trans and non-binary people in the UK.
Childline is a free, private and confidential service where children and young people can talk about anything. It is UK based.
The Trevor Project is the leading national (USA based) organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25.
There will be more international, national and local based organisations – this is not a comprehensive list and I am not a professional. Please feel free to share more in the comments below if you want to.