Cemetery Boys / Aiden Thomas / Book Review


At almost sixteen-years-old, Yadriel should be a full-fledged brujo, sworn to Santa Meurte and protector of spirits trapped between this life and the next. But because Yadriel is trans, he never completed his quinces ceremony and assumed his birthright. He was never even given the chance by a community that doesn't understand.

Alongside his best friend and cousin Maritza, Yadriel decides to take matters into his own hands. To prove to his family that he is the boy he has always believed, Yadriel sets out to summon the spirit of his recently deceased cousin and help him pass to the afterlife.

But when Yadriel's classmate Julian shows up instead, Yadriel finds himself saddled with a spirit who won't pass peacefully to the other side. Instead, Julian demands to tie up the loose ends left in the wake of his unexpected death, and Yadriel has no choice but to comply.



Unapologetic Identity Aiden Thomas's book is an unapologetic celebration of trans identity and Latinx culture. Yadriel embraces the conflicting sides of himself--his own identity and the traditional culture in which he was raised--and he works to reconcile these two to create something new. Yadriel is unapologetically who he is, and the entire narrative is unapologetic in the diversity it brings to the world of YA fantasy. More than just being unapologetic, the Latinx and trans components to the narrative are purposeful. In a culture that is demanding more and more diverse representation on the page, it can often feel like the "diverse" characters, cultures, and backdrops presented in fiction merely serve to check the box--to be mentioned once and then have no subsequent impact on the story. The diversity in this book isn't forced. It is natural, essential--a vital component to the story and to the characters. This is just one of the benefits to a story with an #OwnVoices author behind it.

Spanish The use of Spanish throughout this text is another essential and unapologetic component to Thomas's work. Of course his characters speak Spanish. Of course they switch between English and Spanish regularly. And of course, bits of this Spanish should be included in an otherwise-English-language text. It only makes sense. While Thomas will offer a translation in English in the narrative where the exact meaning of a Spanish phrase is crucial, much of the Spanish is left untranslated--which is great. It is refreshing to read a text that reflects its characters so well.

Great Voice The narrative voice of this text is excellent. It is immediately engaging, and Yadriel is a different type of main character than is often found in YA fantasy. Not so much snarky and sassy, Yadriel is instead both determined and uncertain of himself. He feels pride in the traditions that surround him and acknowledges the reality of the contemporary world. His voice is different, which is just one more refreshing aspect to this text.


The quickness of several key plot points is the biggest issue I had with this book. Thomas moves too quickly between crucial events, to the point that they feel conveniently timed--over-abundantly so. I found myself experiencing one too many "Wow, what a coincidence!" moments. Quick Pace

Predictability is another major issue, but this wasn't much of a deal-breaker for me. I put the various pieces together about halfway through the book, but the writing, voice, and characters were engaging enough that I didn't lose interest in the story. It was disappointing to get to the big reveal at the end and find out I had guessed it so early on, but I was invested in the characters by that point anyway. No real loss here. Predictability

This is a pet-peeve of mine more than a genuine complaint. There were instances of repeated words and sentence structures in close succession scattered throughout the book. While such repetition often feels like poor editing, in this work, it felt almost intentional. The little repetitions felt like stylistic choices meant to help convey character voice, but just because it was intentional doesn't mean I have to like it! Repetitive Word Choice



Fans of the diverse cast of characters in Sonia Gensler's The Revenant hould check out this updated #OwnVoices ghost story. Those who enjoy the spine-chilling graveyard atmosphere of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book will love the hidden-cemetery/secret-society world of this new macabre work.


Publisher: Swoon Reads
Date: September 1, 2020
Series: N/A
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  1. This sounds like a great book and unique from a lot of YA.


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