4 out of 5 Stars
A trans boy determined to prove his gender to his traditional Latinx family summons a ghost who refuses to leave in 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 to let him leave.
Part ghost story and part romance, this spooky coming-of-age novel begins with the violent death of a family member and snowballs into a race to find the murderer.
There is so much to love about this book. The characters are realistic and flawed–I just wanted to reach into the pages and give these disaster children hugs. The pacing is a bit slow at first, focusing mainly on the mystery behind the death of Yadriel’s cousin, but what really drew me in was the adorable romance.
It’s impossible not to love Julian’s chaotic ADHD energy, even if he’s usually better at getting into trouble than getting out. Although the romantic arc was a bit rushed (taking place over only a few days), it doesn’t feel that way after everything Yadriel and Julian are forced to deal with.
The representation in this novel is phenomenal. As mentioned in the blurb, the story is told from the point of view of Yadriel, a gay trans boy looking to prove himself to his very traditional Hispanic family. The family interactions have so much heart and wonderful nuance. I loved Yadriel’s interactions with his cousin, another black sheep of the family, and watching their friendship grow into something even stronger.
And the atmosphere! This occurs over the days leading up to Dia de Muerte. There’s ghosts and witches and wonderful food and decorations. So much of the story line hinges on rich family traditions steeped in magic. Although the plot was ultimately predictable, it was still so much fun! And there’s giant, goofy, slobbery, cuddly dogs too 🙂
Overall I give Cemetery Boys 4 out of 5 stars. I would recommend this one for any fans of ghost stories, mysteries, and romance 🙂