When Yadriel accidentally summons the ghost of school bad boy, Julian Diaz, instead of his missing cousin, he’s stuck with a ghost who refuses to leave. So now he’s left with Julian as he navigates the days leading up to the day of the dead and proving to his traditional Latinx family that he is a real brujo. Yadriel is a gay trans boy who struggles to get his family to accept him as a brujo, even as far as partaking in the ceremony alone. Everything is going smoothly until his cousin mysteriously passes away, and no one in his family can find his body. So Yadriel takes it upon himself to find his cousin’s spirit and help him cross over, securing his position as a brujo. But his plans prove difficult when Julian is determined to find out what happened to him as well. The countdown begins as the two boys must work together before Dia de Los Muertos to find the truth.
Cemetery Boys was a marvellous book to read. A fast-paced and brilliant story about a boy trying to do the right thing: the world that Aidan Thomas has created is detailed and vivid in descriptions and characters who fill the pages with much joy. As a non-Latinx reader, I cannot say much about the culture surrounding Dia De Los Muertos, but the way Thomas writes about Yadriel preparing with his family, having to keep secrets from the community he loves is incredibly engaging. The story’s greatest strength is how Thomas hooks you in, informs you, and then takes you a wild ride about a boy and his ghost.
Cemetery Boys would not be what it is without the characters. Yadriel is stumbling through life, still mourning his mother, longing for acceptance from the rest of his family. He loves them deeply, but their disrespect towards him grows deep resentment. It’s this feeling of familiarity that struck a core with me; the community is everything. However, it still hurts, knowing that there will always be a feeling of incongruous difference despite your best effort. On the other hand, Julian Diaz is loud, talkative, and, despite his image, truly cares about the people around him. His rumours follow Yadriel until he slowly learns that they were all wrong about this boy. A boy who has been so crushed and forgotten about that he rises to remind everyone who he is. A boy whose disappearance almost means nothing except to the people who really care. He’s endearing and sweet, and the contrast between the two as the romance blossoms warms this cold heart of mine.
Cemetery Boys was a very comforting book. Despite the heavy plot, there was something delightful and astonishing amidst the chaos of Yadriel’s life. In terms of the story, its climax and resolution are both fast-paced and quite frankly very satisfying. And although it didn’t ruin my reading experiences, I couldn’t help but feel like some scenes needed more direction because the story goes from not knowing anything and then everything happens all at once. The story is far from boring, but its something I couldn’t help but notice.
Overall, Cemetery Boys was a blast to read. It’s an adventure, mystery and a love story all in one. It’s also a beautiful coming-of-age tale about honouring your truth, clearly written from a place of love which made this one hell of a read.