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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 de 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.


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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 de 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.

30 review for Cemetery Boys

  1. 4 out of 5

    chai ♡

    ✧ find this review & others on my blog ✧ I knew from the very first few pages of Cemetery Boys that I was going to love it so dearly. Aiden Thomas lured me into their imaginative and vibrant narrative with an enchanting mix of mystery and magic, then hooked me on their winning characters. The sense of fall was immediate then, the swiftness and depth of it. I wanted to hold time like a breath in my chest, and never stop reading. When I turned the last page, I felt like something inside of me h ✧ find this review & others on my blog ✧ I knew from the very first few pages of Cemetery Boys that I was going to love it so dearly. Aiden Thomas lured me into their imaginative and vibrant narrative with an enchanting mix of mystery and magic, then hooked me on their winning characters. The sense of fall was immediate then, the swiftness and depth of it. I wanted to hold time like a breath in my chest, and never stop reading. When I turned the last page, I felt like something inside of me has cracked open, like a room with the windows all thrown wide open, eager to let in the gleaming sunlight, the fresh air, and the spring-morning warmth. That heady feeling of weightlessness, as though something heavy had been perched on my shoulders but had finally flown away. Early in Thomas’s cracking debut, Yadriel—a 16-year-old gay Latinx trans boy—successfully performs the ritual his family denied him in front of Lady Death, thus unlocking his magical powers as a brujo. Soon after, Yadriel discovers that his cousin has suddenly and inexplicably died, but his spirit is nowhere to be found. The mystery calls to Yadriel like a kernel of a secret, and determined, he sets out to root it out. If Yadriel can find his cousin’s body and release his spirit to the afterlife, he can finally prove to his family that he is a true brujo—and a boy. Yadriel’s plan definitely did not include falling for one Julian Diaz—the spirit of a handsome dead boy Yadriel accidentally summons. But now it is just the two of them—tangled up together like coat hangers—and a mystery hanging heavy in the air around them like a ghost. The only thing more stupid than going around his family’s back, summoning spirits, and trying to solve multiple murders would be falling for a dead boy. Especially if it was Julian Diaz.  It is this mystery that forms the plot of Cemetery Boys, and everything soon becomes edged with the sense of hurtling toward an inevitable crash. The writing is incredibly engaging, and the dialogue is some of the best I’ve ever read—compelling, effortlessly swift, and full of nuance and humor. But it’s the voices that Aiden Thomas gives their characters that will follow you off the page. The author sees the characters—really sees them—and wants them to see themselves. In his hands, their stories transcend what is expected of them. But it's more than just an exercise in subverting expectations. There’s so much tenderness infused into the novel, fizzing so joyously through its veins. All of the characters are rendered with care, every single one of them meticulously polished in all their conflicted, multifaceted glory. Yadriel’s voice is as unique as it is compelling, and I warmed with the simple joy of stumbling across someone whose desires and fears are shaped so closely to my own. Yadriel wanted to be accepted by his family and community with all the fierce longing of a thwarted child. And even when it burned in him that his family refused to acknowledge him as a brujo and as a boy, even when he had to endure conversations as painful as picking one’s way through a patch of nettles, and even when he tired of always being the one to swallow his hurt and extend people the benefit of the doubt—it was still more endurable than the inconsolable grief of losing it all. I think oftentimes in queer YA books the queer protagonist is either wholeheartedly embraced by their family, or shunned by them completely. But few novels venture into the vast area in between where it feels like the people around you are embracing you with an arm, but pushing you back with the other, and show how painful and taxing it is to navigate that. Yadriel’s family claims to accept him as a boy, but throwaway comments like his dad asking him to “stay [there] with the rest of the women” or his grandmother telling him he’ll always be “[her] little girl” cut like a knife, swift and deep. Yadriel did not know how to fit love and resentment into the same cupboard. He loved his family and community and wanted to belong with them, but their failure to embrace him the way he deserved to be embraced struck him with a pang of deep resentment, and the two emotions fought for the same space inside his chest. The nagging familiarity of it still snags at me. My family and community are everything to me. It’s not something to painlessly give up with a laugh, and a roll of the shoulders, or easily pare away like it’s dead foliage. But knowing that I’ll never quite fit in—not all the way, anyway, no matter how hard I tried—hurts. And it felt less lonely to read a book in which the protagonist is sitting right here with me, his feelings shadowing my own thoughts. In one of the novel's most heartwarming scenes, Julian tells Yadriel, “You don’t need anyone’s permission to be you, Yads,”  and something inside Yadriel (and me) lights up like a torch. Wanting acceptance and waiting for permission can feel like flip sides of the same coin sometimes, flashing end over end, wild and jarring and dizzying. Where does one end and the other begins? When does the plea you form in your head for love and acceptance grow teeth that sink into your flesh and bloom fear in your chest, stiffening all that you are into a terrible, echoing silence? How long are you willing to allow it? “Why do you have to prove anything to anyone?” Speaking of Julian, the loveable ghost of my heart. Julian Diaz might be a spirit—hazy and incorporeal enough to pass your hand right through him—but who he is was so solid and real that the rest of the world seemed dull by comparison. He is the boy who’s like cheer in a bottle, his face lit with an undimmable glow of its own making. The boy born with his heart on the outside of his body, who loves so deeply, and so achingly, and is loyal in the reckless manner of those who would hurtle themselves headlong into peril for those they loved—and not once count the cost. But the rumors hanging heavy around Julian spoke of brawls and drug deals, of a runaway mother and a dead father. The rumors decided who Julian was—the brooding, bad boy with a tortured past and an infamous present—and the words held all the finality of a thrust blade. The novel, however, handles that trope by walking right up to it and smacking it upside the head. Cemetery Boys shows us Julian with his defenses lowered, and there is an untried, fragile feeling to the unfurling of his character. Instead of a troublemaker and a “bad boy”, we simply see… a kid. A kid who is bright and loud and feels most at home where there is jolly chaos to be sowed. A kid with kindness and empathy that run deep in his nature as the current of a rushing stream. A kid who makes endearingly bad jokes, and hilariously mixes up his idioms, and has so much warmth and energy thrumming through him it’s as though he is twice as alive as the next person. The names people assigned Julian, wishing to see in him only what they wanted to see, hit me with a startling, painful familiarity. As a kid, I grew up being told that I was too loud, too inattentive, too annoying. Too much. As an adult, I learned the name for that was ADHD. But as a kid, with little language to shape around your feelings, you accept what everyone else tells you. The words splinter in your mind with a haze of pain around them, and you start to believe—in Julian’s agonizing words—that there must be something in you, rotting away, bound to catch up to you one day. Because sometimes, even shallow wounds fester. And I wish so fervently that adults were kinder to children and teenagers. There’s something so tenuous and vulnerable on the line at the beginning of one’s life, something that could be so easily broken if you’re not careful—and it's as tenderly explored in this novel as everything else. As for the romance blossoming slowly between Julian and Yadriel—it's like a bloom of light and warmth inside the novel, and the memory of their moments together still make me want to whoop for joy. I really loved this book. Cemetery Boys is one of those stories that feel so impossibly familiar, a thing already part of yourself. I will carry it with me forever, and I hope many readers find their way to it, for it belongs on all shelves. If you liked this review please consider leaving me a tip on Ko-fi ! ☆ ko-fi ★ blog ☆ twitter ★ tumblr ☆

  2. 4 out of 5

    Regan

    My HEART is GLOWING I caNt SToP SMILING Read this.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Miranda Reads

    OHMYGOSH. Goodreads Choice Nominees are in and My Reaction Video is up! Don't forget to vote! Annnd here's my original reaction to this book! Happy Pride Month y'all! Click the booktube link to check out my favorite PRIDE booksThe Written Review Oh my gosh. Can I rate this more than 5 stars??? I cannot even BEGIN to talk about how BRILLIANT this one was. I was hooked from the start - the way Aiden set up the characters and the Brujx world was so intriguing and exciting. The plot felt so unique OHMYGOSH. Goodreads Choice Nominees are in and My Reaction Video is up! Don't forget to vote! Annnd here's my original reaction to this book! Happy Pride Month y'all! Click the booktube link to check out my favorite PRIDE booksThe Written Review Oh my gosh. Can I rate this more than 5 stars??? I cannot even BEGIN to talk about how BRILLIANT this one was. I was hooked from the start - the way Aiden set up the characters and the Brujx world was so intriguing and exciting. The plot felt so unique and fresh - I literally read this in a single night and was devastated there wasn't more. I absolutely loved, loved, loved Yadriel and his struggles were so perfectly shown. The way his dad struggled with coming to terms with Yadriel's true self was so heart-achingly real. I also adored Julian - and I'm normally the type to roll my eyes at characters like this in YA. And yet, it worked so well for him. He really embraced himself and did a fabulous job of giving the book some much-needed spunk. The two characters clicked together right from the start and kept that momentum going. They played off of each other so well and honestly carried the book to new heights. I cannot wait for this one to be published and for more people to read it! YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads

  4. 5 out of 5

    myo (myonna reads)

    yeah i cried, and?

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    I haven’t read something like this fantastic novel which is equally entertaining, smart, funny and also sad, heartfelt, emotional, intense at the same time. It’s uplifting but it is also heart wrenching. Your emotions are everywhere. You smile and cry at the same time. There are too many sensitive issues blended harmoniously at this novel. Transphobia, deep parental issues, deportation, grief are the main ones were discussed and approached from the POV of LatinX community. Yadriel is our brill I haven’t read something like this fantastic novel which is equally entertaining, smart, funny and also sad, heartfelt, emotional, intense at the same time. It’s uplifting but it is also heart wrenching. Your emotions are everywhere. You smile and cry at the same time. There are too many sensitive issues blended harmoniously at this novel. Transphobia, deep parental issues, deportation, grief are the main ones were discussed and approached from the POV of LatinX community. Yadriel is our brilliant MC who just wants to approval of his family to accept his gender. For proving his point he attends to secret brujo ceremony. He summons a ghost and the ritual works perfectly! Nope, not exactly: because the ghost they summoned is Julian Diaz, school’s resident boy has no intention to accept the death before tying his loose ends and dealing with his own unfinished businesses. Yadriel plans to find his missing cousin and a few runaway boys from LatinX community. To accomplish this mission he truly needs help of Julian and his cousin Maritza. So they team up together to solve each other’s problems but as you may see Yadriel finds himself fall for Julian. ( that’s the heart wrenching but also sweetest part of the story) There are so many things about this story. But I want to start with my favorite character: Julian was so adorable, vivid, full of energy! Once upon a time he was the member of the gang! When you read the dysfunctional family relationships and traumatic experiences of abandoned kids, dysfunctional foster care system, you may understand why those kids want to be a part of gang : they only need to be a part of something and people who they can trust. I also enjoy to follow Yadriel’s journey: his self exploration about finding his own powers, strengths and capabilities. He finally finds who he is and his main purpose which also help the people around him understand his choices and give him the approval he needs. ( especially his father’s understanding and approval are the highlights of the story) Overall: this is a Mystical, enjoyable, emotional journey I wish it never ends. But it ended eventually with great conclusion. So I’m giving my blazing, shiny five stars and looking forward to read the new works of the author!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Unknown Reviews

    Writing this review after a month long absence doesn’t seem very fair, as I don’t have a copy of Cemetery Boys at my bedside anymore and I can’t flick for appropriate plot references and so on. However, there’s no way I can move onto another book and not feel guilty over not having this review done, so, alas, a late Christmas present. Yadriel, a young, trans boy desperately wants to be seen as a brujo by his family – a wielder of magic who assures spirits pass safely into the next life. To prove Writing this review after a month long absence doesn’t seem very fair, as I don’t have a copy of Cemetery Boys at my bedside anymore and I can’t flick for appropriate plot references and so on. However, there’s no way I can move onto another book and not feel guilty over not having this review done, so, alas, a late Christmas present. Yadriel, a young, trans boy desperately wants to be seen as a brujo by his family – a wielder of magic who assures spirits pass safely into the next life. To prove himself, he attempts to summon the ghost of a murdered family member except there’s a slight bit of a mistake. Instead of his cousin, he gets Julian – a reckless, foul-mouthed bad boy who happens to be in Yadriel’s grade and also dead without a clue what happened to him. Partnered up with Maritza, Yadriel’s cousin, the two boys attempt to solve Julian’s murder while a much darker threat looms on the horizon. A quick warning, this review should be short as my memory is a little foggy and I’ll be solely focused on the parts of the book that stood out to me the most, whether they’re bad or good. And luckily, there good news for the characters. I liked them . Especially, Julian. Especially, especially, Julian. Because, you know when you read a debut - cross that out - the fourth book of an established authors career and you see they’re trying to write a funny, quirky character and it doesn’t pan out? Well, it does here. Because, Julian is genuinely a funny character and such a sweetheart at that. I won’t lavishly throw praise over the dialogue, because sometimes it was a bit on the nose, but to see little spurts of realism and humour done well in a debut is a good indication to me the author is going to get even better, and with a good start, it’s promising. ] Moving on, I was also pleased with Yadriel and Maritza. Being fair, both were more thinly draw than Julian and often outshined by him, but there is a difficulty in writing a relatively good, “everyman” main character without them being blander than the supporting cast. I did like Yadriel, I can say, due to his own sense of humour as well as not being overtly bland or passive. However, the most compelling aspect of his character happened to be his struggles. By far, the most interesting part of the book to me was Yadriel trying to live life as a trans man, minus his mother, multiplied by his families ignorance, plus all the mysticism that surrounds him. This was possibly the most nuanced exploration of being trans I’ve read yet, and I believe it was quite an important read. Seeing things like Yadriel’s family use his deadname, misgender him or even his struggles with the school bathrooms lends a much deeper layer beyond the supernatural in this book, and a much more heartfelt one too. When something goes right for Yadriel, you cheer. You want the best for him and whenever he has a little win, or a new advancement is made, you can’t help but feel happy for him. I also liked Thomas’ choice to portray a more three-dimensional take on Yadriel’s family. They don’t outright accept or reject him. They’re trying to navigate through it with a lot of goodwill but with many mistakes along the way. His dad is trying his best, but he still doesn’t fully understand the best way to behave, or the fact Yadriel’s grandmother still uses female pronouns when speaking Spanish, without understanding the harm it causes Yadriel. The book being more balanced adds both much-needed realism with such an important topic. Not to mention frustration. These slip-ups are not fun to read about, yet it is believable that a family leaning more towards tradition see them as either insignificant or petite. Even more irritating, these kind of things do happen to transgender people every day and Thomas accurately writes Yadriel’s annoyance, as well as ours. Swinging back to characters, I also liked Maritza too. I feel she was the personification of readers trying to get the Yulian (?) ship sailing, and she maintained a good dynamic with both boys. Also, she consistently proved herself to be a strong character who took no bullshit. Though there may have been a few, too many mentions of her hair colour (sorry, I just hate when authors repeat “look, they’re hair is purple!” or “she somehow has a secret mole on her face” for some reason.) Bonus, she plays soccer and for some reason I think that’s cool. So, while I did like the characters and believe all of the any conversations regarding being LGBTQ+ were done beautifully, they sadly can’t accost for the issues with this book, and unfortunately, there were a lot of them. To summarise the predicted plot in a few lines: Someone is attempting to re-access a deadly type of power with dangerous consequences. People have gone missing. Yadriel summons a ghost. Ghost happens to be cute, bad boy. Yadriel + CBB try to solve the mystery before Día de los Muertos, complete with action, forbidden romance and rep along the way. That sounds like a cool book, except we don’t get this. There are hints of it, except this book is very much bogged down by exposition, bland writing and a structure that feels in no way cohesive. You see, the world-building sounds really interesting. It’s clear Thomas has put a lot of work into their premise and I always love reading about mythologies that I know nothing about. But honestly, it seemed like the more interesting aspects were locked off to us as readers and very much put in the background. For example, things like the challenges people had to face to make it to the afterlife, or just the general history about Lady Death and the Jaguar God (I can’t remember his name, so please excuse me if this is incorrect.) all sounded amazing and very fantastical. As a contemporary fantasy, I understand why the magic would be more grounded but the book really would’ve benefited from the wilder parts of Thomas’ world-building. Because unfortunately, the plot is boring and not tightly written. The links between scenes and plot points felt very artificially done and I was disappointed by the lack of imagination. The whole thing felt as if it was written without a plan, like Thomas wandered from scene to scene without thinking what makes an action-packed and entertaining book. Obviously, not all books need to be action-packed (you would hope they’re entertaining though), but the writing was not strong enough to carry this book on atmosphere or characters alone. A lot of the book focuses on the relationship between Yadriel and Julian, but I nearly always wondered “couldn’t Thomas have come up with a more interesting scene relevant to the plot and still have the relationship develop?” instead of re-treading “they’re in Yadriel’s bedroom, they’re walking somewhere, they’re in Yadriel’s bedroom again.” Have them talk after a fight with spirits turned bad maybe? An exploration into more magic? Something, anything to further in a plot in an organic, interesting and scary way (sorry, I wanted some Halloween feels.) Another issue is that this book contains little to no tension, as the evilness plot is kind of forgotten about. It’s hard to be scared of an apparent killer trying to re-claim the power of an evil god when the characters appear so indifferent to it. The whole book feels so passive, I think is the best way to describe my feelings. You're supposed be tricked into thinking this darker plot is going on when really there’s no suspense or thrills because the characters care more about other things. I’d even say I’d rather this book just be about Julian and Yadriel’s relationship since it was a lot more interesting and the book wouldn’t be bogged down in something that only feels half-heartedly invested in. For example, at one stage, they use a party as an excuse to take the day off. Never mind the party doesn’t make it past a page, but this is just a weak plot device to get the boys to Secluded Spot to Have Feelings. Seriously, could Have Feelings not had happened during an actual plot point that might be relevant to the story? (Also, the villain was ridiculously predictable. They could’ve been called Villain for all I care, since it was basically stamped on their face the moment we met them. To add to that, since the main plot is forgotten about, their motivation gives us no empathy for them.) Another thing I want to point out, which is a little odder, is this book does not feel mature enough. Maybe I had different expectations than everyone else, but I genuinely think if you cut out the swearing in this book, it could be easily marketed to 10-13 year olds over older teenagers. Something about the cast and writing felt very young, and maybe it’s due to the book being a debut, maybe it’s due to the light-heartedness of the story, but it is the most juvenile YA book I’ve read in a while. I don’t mean that as an insult, and it’s possible the teens in the story are a more accurate depiction than the usual brooding, self-suffering teens of YA, but I just didn’t expect it, if I’m honest. Also, the writing. Yeah... I have to say it, it wasn’t great. This book is very clearly a debut and in all honesty, I do think it should’ve run through an editor again. I’m no expert, but something felt off straight away when I saw the amount of exposition in the first few chapters. I can’t lie, I’m genuinely surprised a published book had such amateur tell-tales. And, I think I pointed out the amount of exposition in my review for “Into The Drowning Deep,” too, but at least that was somewhat organic. Here, Yadriel’s thoughts can jump from something like thinking about his family to what Brujx receive when they’re fifteen. It hits you with the force of the train with it’s randomness and could be plucked straight from a history book in the way it’s told. This book contains the worst examples of exposition I’ve read this year. Now, this does get better since there’s less exposition later in the book, but that’s because practically all of it was in the first few pages. Rather than being woefully lopsided, the information should’ve been spread out through the book and dropped a little bit…well, more subtly anyway. The prose also wasn’t great either which maybe enhanced the juvenile feel I was getting from it. Being fair, basic prose in books doesn’t bother me (unless it doesn’t flow well), but this really felt like an earlier draft rather than the fully edited, published book. Things were told in a very mundane way which meant I got a little bored or disinterested during scenes. Some parts of the plot I liked, for example when we meet Julian’s group of friends (who are all interesting characters in their own right) or Yadriel in school, but they’re so detached from the overall plot, it does feel like flicking back and forth between different genres. Also, the ending. Very anti-climatic, though the lack of build-up prepares you for it anyway. It’s quite rushed and I’m wondering will there be a sequel, but if there is, what was the point of this book either than Yadriel’s personal/romantic life? It sets up little to nothing. It’s possible Thomas stored up the more fantastical elements for the future, but they could’ve easily been used in this book to make it more entertaining. I know this book means so much to so many people, and I’d recommend you to read it, but the story itself just didn’t work for me beyond Yadriel and Julian’s relationship. Honestly, looking at the distance between this review and when I read it (six weeks maybe), my general thoughts of the book would be "it's underwhelming". This is super subjective, since most Goodreads readers loved it and I’d always advise you to trust them over me, but I could not vibe with the plot or weak story structure. Though I will say this: That yearbook scene gets a star of its own – I did not expect it to make me feel some type of way.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sahil Javed

    a gay book about a trans boy who may or may not be in love with a ghost? i didn't know i needed this until right now. a gay book about a trans boy who may or may not be in love with a ghost? i didn't know i needed this until right now.

  8. 4 out of 5

    ari

    "Latinx trans teen boy, hoping to release his cousin's spirit and prove himself as a brujo, accidentally summons the wrong ghost and ends up falling in love with him"...............this honestly sounds like everything i've ever needed in my life, 2020 already serving us "Latinx trans teen boy, hoping to release his cousin's spirit and prove himself as a brujo, accidentally summons the wrong ghost and ends up falling in love with him"...............this honestly sounds like everything i've ever needed in my life, 2020 already serving us

  9. 4 out of 5

    Adri

    CWs: Misgendering, allusions to deadnaming, depictions of gender dysphoria, exploration of parental death, non-violent references to blood magic, some descriptions of self-harm (for ritualistic purposes) ☑ Watch my spoiler-free #ownvoices reading vlog for Cemetery Boys! ☑ Check out this interview I did with Aiden Thomas! ☑ Read my second CB review for even more detailed feelings! I am THRIVING. I am LIVING. I am convinced this book was written for me and me alone and I will be accepting no other CWs: Misgendering, allusions to deadnaming, depictions of gender dysphoria, exploration of parental death, non-violent references to blood magic, some descriptions of self-harm (for ritualistic purposes) ☑ Watch my spoiler-free #ownvoices reading vlog for Cemetery Boys! ☑ Check out this interview I did with Aiden Thomas! ☑ Read my second CB review for even more detailed feelings! I am THRIVING. I am LIVING. I am convinced this book was written for me and me alone and I will be accepting no other feedback at this time. While this story acknowledges the realities of queer pain and queer trauma, it is resolutely written from a place of JOY and love. It's fun as hell to read, the trans Latinx rep is out of this world, the gender-affirming magic system is so well executed, and ultimately it's an empowering story about honoring your truth. Don't you dare sleep on this goddamn blessing of a book, because it's going to be a mirror that so many of us have needed for so long.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Fadwa (Word Wonders)

    CW: death of a loved one, talk of loss of a parent, misgendering, mention of parental abuse, mention of transphobic parents and deportation. Genuine question: How do you review a book that feels like it nudge a piece of yourself forward, shifted it slowly to make you click in place and make that slight feeling of wrongness go away? If you think I’m being hyperbolic, I am not. Cemetery Boys brought me more than I can put into words and I have been struggling to write this review for over a month, CW: death of a loved one, talk of loss of a parent, misgendering, mention of parental abuse, mention of transphobic parents and deportation. Genuine question: How do you review a book that feels like it nudge a piece of yourself forward, shifted it slowly to make you click in place and make that slight feeling of wrongness go away? If you think I’m being hyperbolic, I am not. Cemetery Boys brought me more than I can put into words and I have been struggling to write this review for over a month, always putting it off to tomorrow, because maybe then I’ll wake up with the words to do it justice, but at this point, I don’t think that will happen and all I can do is give it my best shot. The writing is fairly simple, straight forward and quick to read at first glance, and while all of that does hold true, it’s also beautiful in the fact that it burrows itself deep into the reader’s soul and hits you with the most beautiful quotable lines that live you thinking about them for a while afterwards. Quotes that although specific, can and will speak to a lot of people and maybe, just for a moment, make them feel less alone. And that’s exactly what it did for me, reading Cemetery Boys felt like home, it shone a light on some of deepest darkest corners of my soul and said “hey, I got you. I see you. All of you. Even these tiny bits and pieces that you have been looking away from”. This book made me feel seen in ways I didn’t expect or account for when going in, it made me smile, made me rage, made my cry and laugh. Oh and it’s also really fucking funny. This book is equally fun, funny and joyful as it is at time sad, heartbreaking and painful, and for me, that’s where its strength lies. Cemetery Boys is one of the most, if not *the* most nuanced book I have ever read in term of its exploration of queerness, transness, and the way both of these things are treated in brown patriarchal communities. In this specific case, it’s the Latinx community, but you can broaden it to encompass other brown communities, as a lot of them mirror each other in the way they treat all the above as well as identity, family and community. Yadriel is a trans boy whose only wish is to be accepted in his brujx community as a brujo, which is a thing that has always been denied to him. While on a surface level Yadriel’s community seems like they’re accepting him, using his chosen name as well as his correct pronouns, on a second look, you find that he is anything but. This acceptance feels like humoring him, because when it comes to real test, to giving him his quinces and thus access to his brujo powers, they refuse to do so. Waiting for something to change, maybe for him to “grow out” of being a boy, for him to finally relent and be ready to accept the “girl” powers. Read my full review on my blog Word Wonders

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mrinmayi

    *3.75🌟 Buddy read with Drama Queen How I expected that this book will end How it actually ended I mean don't get me wrong...I LOVED the book BUT I just expected an emotional read The book was fluffy and cute!!(Not complaining) But it felt like WE (Joshita and Mrin) were chilling with the characters xD This book had a "chill" vibe going on..as against to the "spooky" vibe The premise was pretty simple: The MC summons a ghost and is not able to get rid of the said ghost Thats all I will say...Go into this bo *3.75🌟 Buddy read with Drama Queen How I expected that this book will end How it actually ended I mean don't get me wrong...I LOVED the book BUT I just expected an emotional read The book was fluffy and cute!!(Not complaining) But it felt like WE (Joshita and Mrin) were chilling with the characters xD This book had a "chill" vibe going on..as against to the "spooky" vibe The premise was pretty simple: The MC summons a ghost and is not able to get rid of the said ghost Thats all I will say...Go into this book without knowing anything else just enjoy the cool vibes of the book As my buddy read partner said at the very beginning of the book... THIS BOOK HAS COCO VIBES!!!! And she was right!!! Coco is one of my all time fav movie & this book reminded me a LOT about that book!! (I bawled like a baby during this scene 🥺😭) Another thing which I ADORED in this book is the family aspect They had a close knitted family which I appreciated VERY MUCH!! For me family is very important...I mean I am Indian ...so I basically grew up with the teaching that family comes first ...ALWAYS (Idk how to translate this☝ I just know my family is gonna kill me after they see this meme😂if you know the translations please do tell) And I guess I related to Yadriel in that aspect He was close to his cousin#relatable had a big ass family#relatable the said family is nosy BUT Loving at the same time#relatable I mean it was great seeing a FAMILY for once in YA novels xD Stuff like this NEVER happens in YA novels!! Now the characters Shall I say this book has some of the MOST amazing characters ??!! They will be going to the list of my all time fav book characters !! Especially Julian and Maritza !! Julian was like my twin brother(?) I mean now I know how I would be as a Ghost Cause Julian represented me xD He was loud and irritating and loved playing pranks😂 If I died and I was turned into a ghost..even I would have the same reactions as he did!! He was an extrovert who got hold of an introvert And now the said introvert is not able to get rid of him(My life summed in 2 lines lol) But yeah you should read this book at least for him (I am NOT bragging about myself...ok maybe just a little😂😅) The fact that Julain was a Scorpio was cherry on the cake!! I am Cancer and get very well along with Scorpios xD Water signs need to stick together lol Ok now the other character whom I loved was the MC's cousin Maritza Now here's the thing...I have a friend whose name is also Mari And both the Mari (Yadriel's aka the MC's Mari and Mrin's Mari) are the people whom you run for help when you are in trouble 😂 like trust me ...we all need a Mari in our life That one cousin who wont judge us for our wierdness & will have our back The only difference is Mari is not my cousin (But I do consider her as one now xD) The characters are just so relatable!! You wont be disappointed in them!! My only complaint of this book is that the Main character Yadriel did not feel fleshed out I wanted more character depth Same goes for the plot line It was really slow paced I personally feel that there was so much scope for world building and magic system This was low fantasy BUT I am someone who enjoys good world building The author did not explain the magic system well I was honestly left with so many qts!! Awww look at the cute owl!!🥺 But those were my only complaints !! Really enjoyed this book and most importantly enjoyed the BR with the crazy woman xD I swear we were being OTT dramatic for more than half part of the discussion lol Mrin: Joshita: Mrin: Joshita: that's how this be went Update 1 Mature Mrin: NO FANTASY!!! TRY DIFFERENT GENRES!!! Normal Mrin: But... Mature Mrin : NO But Wut!! Normal Mrin: *Snickers*

  12. 5 out of 5

    sunkissed-miranda

    EDIT: 6/24/2020 So, I did NOT edit in a few days but that's okay because I wrote a TON of notes for this book. Here we go. 2/5 stars I received an eARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Oof, this review is going to be controversial, so fair warning! To be clear: it has nothing to do with the latinx, trans, or gay representation throughout the novel. All marginalized identities are presented in a positive, fulfilling, and engaging light, and my review does not take away from Thomas' EDIT: 6/24/2020 So, I did NOT edit in a few days but that's okay because I wrote a TON of notes for this book. Here we go. 2/5 stars I received an eARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Oof, this review is going to be controversial, so fair warning! To be clear: it has nothing to do with the latinx, trans, or gay representation throughout the novel. All marginalized identities are presented in a positive, fulfilling, and engaging light, and my review does not take away from Thomas' ardent dedication to marginalized teens. This review has everything to do with style, voice, plot structure, character development, and even relationship dynamics. To be blunt: none of it was good. PROS: Worldbuilding: While I'm not a fan of the heavy exposition, I love the burjx community Thomas created. You can tell a lot of care was put into this setting, and I greatly respect that. Representation: It's great. Yadriel is a trans latinx man and I'm so grateful he exists. His relationship with his father mirrors the relationship between many latinx children and their parents, particularly if they're LGBT+. As non-binary latinx, I felt Thomas represented our community well. Julian was also wonderful gay representation: unconventional but still honest, kind, and even goofy. One of my favorite scenes involve Yadriel confronting his fears and insecurities revolving around his identity and Julian encouraging/supporting him the entire way through. Thomas also does a great job exploring a multigenerational latinx family, which again, I have personal experience of. Some scenes made me chuckle, given how closely they mirrored some of my own memories. CONS (minor spoilers below): Writing Style & Exposition: This, right here, is why I did not enjoy this book. Scenes dragged out for AGES, it felt like someone was oh so slowly dragging their nails against a chalkboard. The prose and Yadriel's voice is passive, dry, and lacks any flow, which all combined is a trifecta for reading displeasure. We are always told how people feel rather than shown. Instead of letting scenes play out, Thomas explains what people are doing and why they're doing it. Scenes, INCLUDING ACTION SCENES, lack any semblance of dynamic prose. Scenes that should be quick and engaging are not, weighed down by random tidbits we don't need during the tension. The start of this book especially should have been fast, electric, EXCITING. But it's bogged down by the prose and Thomas' lack of direction. There are literal pages of info-dumping and exposition that make it hard to stay engaged. SO MUCH of the novel is straight filler and holds no weight on the story, and history that the reader should be learning is thoroughly ignored for more irrelevancy. Like, did we NEED two pages of history for the ghost gardener? Whose only purpose was to corrupt and eventually attack the party? We did not! That time could have been used to develop Yadriel and Julian's relationship organically, or even add some weight to Yadriel's relationships with other characters, like his older brother or his uncle. Repetition: This gets its own section because holy wow. So much flushing. So many ears burning red. There are other ways the body shows embarrassment, please, omg. Plot: The romantic subplot takes over the main plot from about the 65% mark and doesn't let up until the 90% mark. Just straight up we abandon the main plot and the romantic subplot takes over. But that's not how it works. That's not why I'm here! I want the mystery solved AND Yadriel to get the boy. But if you abandon the WHOLE POINT OF THIS BOOK, the reader (me) is going to be frustrated! Yes, the scenes with Yadriel and Julian were very cute but they didn't advance the MAIN PLOT AT ALL. Because we abandoned it! Yadriel literally went "welp, fuck it" and went on a romantic day trip with his ghost boyfriend. And that works fine in fanfiction because that's all about wish fulfillment but that's not why I'm here! This is a novel, there needs to be point, there are beats you need to hit and Thomas just doesn't hit them. Literally 80% into the novel and we were not any closer to uncovering the mystery of what happened to Yadriel's cousin than we were at the start of the book! Villain: I can't discuss them much without giving them away, but if you're aware of standard fantasy tropes, you'll know who it is very early on. And unfortunately, they never reach their full potential. And even in the end, when we're given a very basic motivation, we're never given a real "why?" It's all very basic and I didn't care. Character Development: This ties into everything else but the characters are so stale. There is no depth to any of the secondary characters, and what little character we get from our main cast never really expands outside of their initial characterization. Sure, Yadriel becomes more confident in his brujo abilities, but that's about it. Relationship Development: Because of how passive the writing style is, I don't find Yadriel and Julian's romance very developed or even engaging. They barely feel like friends until the 65% mark hits, and then we got heart eyes galore. This is fine because their scenes thereafter are cute and their ending is sweet, but I would have LOVED it to be more fulfilling (and you know, in sync with the actual main plot). But if you're going to have your romantic subplot take over for about 25% of the novel, it better be developed well. And it wasn't, so again, I was frustrated by how much I disliked this entire novel's structure and pacing. So, there you have it. I feel like shit giving this novel such a bad review but these are my honest feelings. This book needed another round of edits, particularly a development editor who could have tightened the last half and a line editor to make Yadriel's voice more active and dynamic. I'm sure teens will love the representation as I did but everything else leaves so much to be desired.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Xandra (StarrySkyBooks)

    DID I FINISH THIS BOOK OR DID IT FINISH ME? - - - (spoiler free review. tw list at the bottom. this is a Latinx ownvoices review) I really experienced so many different emotions while reading this book, and most of them were just some form of happiness. Happiness for Yadriel, whenever something good happened to him, and happiness for myself, because I was blessed with this ARC. (Thank you to MacMillan, Swoon Reads, and Netgalley for providing me with an eARC!) It’s difficult to put my feelings for t DID I FINISH THIS BOOK OR DID IT FINISH ME? - - - (spoiler free review. tw list at the bottom. this is a Latinx ownvoices review) I really experienced so many different emotions while reading this book, and most of them were just some form of happiness. Happiness for Yadriel, whenever something good happened to him, and happiness for myself, because I was blessed with this ARC. (Thank you to MacMillan, Swoon Reads, and Netgalley for providing me with an eARC!) It’s difficult to put my feelings for this book into words. My feelings toward it fall under my own special category of “I loved it for so many reasons but most of those are personal”. In other words, this book had a lot of things that I personally love, but I’m not sure they are things other people would love as well. First of all, the characters! I loved the characters. As a character-based reader, these bright characters really made the whole experience for me. I loved how the interacted with each other, and I loved how different they were from each other. As a Latina, I also appreciated the Latinx representation in this book. Many Latinx books feel stiff and stereotypical, but this one was bright and lively, and it made me proud to know a lot about Yadriel’s culture already. I could tell this was personal to the author, and I really appreciated that. Another thing I admire about the writing is the amount of times I related to the events in this book, or the times I really believed what the characters were doing. There were times when Yadriel did something and I felt in my soul that I related so much, that I would also do the same thing if I was in his situation. And there were times when Yadriel’s Lita did something frustrating, and I believed it because I have an abuelita and she would 100% do the same thing. Something I noticed and liked, but also recognized that not everyone would feel the same way about, was the fact that these characters were sometimes a bit too exaggerated. At times, it was just characteristic, but other times, their action were a bit too fast-paced or their dialogue was a bit too loud. (For example, if a character yelled about something in all caps, italics, and with an exclamation point, rather than just italics.) There were a few scenes which were kind of messy, in a way which made the dialogue flow a little bit difficult to follow, but I think that’s common when it comes to debut books. (Although, I think this is technically Thomas’ second book.) But this was easy to overlook and understand for me. Also, according to Aiden Thomas’ twitter, they’ve made a lot of edits since the ARCs were sent out, so hopefully a lot of these issues have been resolved. Character like-ability: 4.5 Character development: 3.5 Plot development: 4 Writing style: 3 Dialogue: 3.5 Personal emotions: 5 3.9 ≈ 4 stars --- tw: transphobia, death, misgendering and deadnaming, gender dysphoria, parental death, some references to blood magic.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tucker (TuckerTheReader)

    Many thanks to Macmillan Audio for the free audio file in exchange for an honest review "Don't mourn me. If you cry for me, I grieve your pain. Instead, if you sing to me, I'll always live and my spirit will never die." I probably wouldn't have picked this up if my friend Miranda hadn't recommended it to me but I am very glad she did. It was spooky, funny, and so, so adorable. It also had a pretty hefty plot twist in the end. So, what's this book about? When his traditional Latinx fami Many thanks to Macmillan Audio for the free audio file in exchange for an honest review "Don't mourn me. If you cry for me, I grieve your pain. Instead, if you sing to me, I'll always live and my spirit will never die." I probably wouldn't have picked this up if my friend Miranda hadn't recommended it to me but I am very glad she did. It was spooky, funny, and so, so adorable. It also had a pretty hefty plot twist in the end. So, what's this book about? When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his 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 up 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. I absolutely loved the Latinx culture. I've said it in multiple reviews but in case you haven't read and reread all 800+ of my reviews (how dare you), my dad is 100% latino making me 50% latino which I guess makes me biracial. ANYWAY, this isn't a discussion of my ancestry. My point is I love learning more about the Latinx culture (I admit I don't know as much as I wish I did) and also reliving the stuff I already know. Yadriel's family, in spite of some of them being unaccepting, were sweet. It reminded me of being surrounded by my Abuelos, Tios, Tias, and cousins and the sweet chaos the brought with them. I also loved the magic that was tied to the Latinx culture. It was fascinating and enjoyable to read and I really hope to see more of it in this author's upcoming books. I loved the characters too. Yadriel reminded me of myself (a little bit) and I loved his determination. Julian was so adorable. "It's a doggie dog world" will forever be one of the best, most adorable quotes I've ever had the pleasure of reading. I enjoyed the mystery that was woven into the story. I won't spoil but the plot twist in the end was so good and it totally surprised me. It was very Stalking Jack the Ripper-esque. Bottom Line: 4 stars Age Rating - [ PG-13 ] Content Screening (Mild Spoilers) Positive Messages (3/5) - [Sacrifice, Selflessness, Perserverance] Violence (4/5) - [Gore, Body horror, Ghosts, Death, Blood, Stabbing, Shooting] Sex (1/5) - [Mild sexual themes, Kissing] Language (2/5) - [Sh*t, d*ck] Drinking/Drugs (3/5) - [Alcohol consumption, Medicinal drugs] Content and trigger warnings - Transphobia, Loss of a loved one, Violence, Gore, Horror Publication Date: September 1st, 2020 Publisher: Swoon Reads (an imprint of Macmillan Children's (an imprint of Macmillan)) Genre: Fantasy/LGBT ------------ Hecka cute and a substantial plot twist at the end! review to come ------------ I'M SO EXCITEDDDDDDDDDDD | Goodreads | Blog | Pinterest | LinkedIn | YouTube | Instagram

  15. 4 out of 5

    Larry H

    Aiden Thomas' Cemetery Boys is a magical, emotional story about finding the courage to show everyone—including yourself—who you really are, with some terrifically creative fantasy thrown in. First, let me say that I cannot believe I’ve read 300(!) books so far this year. I will read a few more (I’m one of those who reads up until the very end of the year) but this is the most I’ve ever read—and I don’t expect to ever read this amount again! (COVID has really messed with my sleep patterns.) Now Aiden Thomas' Cemetery Boys is a magical, emotional story about finding the courage to show everyone—including yourself—who you really are, with some terrifically creative fantasy thrown in. First, let me say that I cannot believe I’ve read 300(!) books so far this year. I will read a few more (I’m one of those who reads up until the very end of the year) but this is the most I’ve ever read—and I don’t expect to ever read this amount again! (COVID has really messed with my sleep patterns.) Now back to the book review... Yadriel’s family has a hard enough time accepting that he’s trans, and they definitely won’t allow him to participate in the traditional ritual where he becomes a brujo. Determined to prove his worth, he performs the ritual himself, and then, with his best friend Maritza, he plans to find the ghost of his murdered cousin, Miguel, so he can set his soul free. One problem: he summons the wrong ghost. Instead he summons Julian, a troublemaker from his high school. Julian doesn’t know why or how he died, and wants to figure things out, not to mention ensure his friends are taken care of. He asks for Yadriel’s help. Yadriel reluctantly agrees, but things start to get more complicated when he realizes he has feelings for Julian, and doesn’t want to have to release his soul. Cemetery Boys was a beautifully told story, about the difficulties in getting your family to accept you and love you for who you are. It’s also a truly inventive fantasy, full of Latinx traditions, and the story is richly drawn and evocative. I can’t wait to see what Aiden Thomas does next. They are such a talented storyteller! Check out my list of the best books I read in 2019 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2019.html. Check out my list of the best books of the decade at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/my-favorite-books-of-decade.html. See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com. Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kai

    “Queer folks are like wolves. We travel in packs." Reading this book is like seeing a ray of sunshine break through eternal grey clouds. This is a straight up feel-good book. The characters are instantly loveable, honestly such an adorable bunch, from the trusting and kind main character and the loyal, sassy best friend, to the cutest pair of dogs alive (in fiction) and the chaotic good love interest. I love a character-driven story which is why the book worked really well for me, because the plo “Queer folks are like wolves. We travel in packs." Reading this book is like seeing a ray of sunshine break through eternal grey clouds. This is a straight up feel-good book. The characters are instantly loveable, honestly such an adorable bunch, from the trusting and kind main character and the loyal, sassy best friend, to the cutest pair of dogs alive (in fiction) and the chaotic good love interest. I love a character-driven story which is why the book worked really well for me, because the plot itself wasn't outstanding. It was pretty predictable - even when the author laid the groundwork for the plot in the beginning I could tell exactly where it was going and it didn't hold much of a surprise. The finale was very stereotypical, including the standard spiteful villain soliloquy and something I will mark as a (view spoiler)[- mc sacrifices themselves for their friends, basically dies, is then magically brought back to life - (hide spoiler)] even though it's fairly common. It wasn't the most original part of the book, but it didn't bother me much because I just really liked the characters and the message behind the book. There's a chosen family trope that's really well done, it's super inclusive and portrays a great variety of Latinx cultures, there are many queer characters and I genuinely enjoyed reading a fantasy story with a trans main character, something we don't get to see often but more and more as of late. My only other criticism is that the writing could've benefitted from a little more attention to detail. When an author tells me "the dancers danced" I can't help rolling my eyes just a tiny bit knowing that they can do better than that. I'm struggling to decide whether to give this four or five stars. From a craft perspective it wasn't perfect, but it has so much heart and it's a very empowering story. So I think it's fair to give five stars. Aiden Thomas is someone to watch and I'm really hyped what he's going to do next. I'm not the biggest Peter Pan fan buts Lost in the Never Woods is a guaranteed 2021 read for me. Find more of my books on Instagram

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kevin (Irish Reader)

    I loved this so freaking much!! This story was so beautiful and had such a great cast of characters. I loved Yadriel, the main character, so much. He was such a strong character, that was struggling with so many things, such as being accepted by his family for being transgender. His best friend and cousin, Maritza, was another one of my favourites, as she was so sarcastic and witty. Finally, of course, I loved Julian Diaz so, so much! He was such a great character and I empathised with him a lot. I loved this so freaking much!! This story was so beautiful and had such a great cast of characters. I loved Yadriel, the main character, so much. He was such a strong character, that was struggling with so many things, such as being accepted by his family for being transgender. His best friend and cousin, Maritza, was another one of my favourites, as she was so sarcastic and witty. Finally, of course, I loved Julian Diaz so, so much! He was such a great character and I empathised with him a lot. The romance in here was also very cute and it felt very well developed and not rushed. The ending also shook me as I didn’t see that coming! Overall, I just loved it so much and would highly recommend. I also did a vlog on my YouTube channel where I discussed my thoughts on this book, you can check that out here: https://youtu.be/KkjqEK5fdco

  18. 5 out of 5

    Elle

    This book was a fun time! I’ll admit it took me a little bit to get into, but it eventually was able to find its groove. Yadriel is a teenager from a long line of brujx, those with the power to bridge the living world with the dead. After he and his cousin, Maritza, perform the coming-of-age ritual for brujos that’d been denied to Yadriel, they meet Julian, a recently departed spirit who’s in the dark about his own passing. Both boys have things they need to accomplish, one wanting to prove hims This book was a fun time! I’ll admit it took me a little bit to get into, but it eventually was able to find its groove. Yadriel is a teenager from a long line of brujx, those with the power to bridge the living world with the dead. After he and his cousin, Maritza, perform the coming-of-age ritual for brujos that’d been denied to Yadriel, they meet Julian, a recently departed spirit who’s in the dark about his own passing. Both boys have things they need to accomplish, one wanting to prove himself and the other unwilling to leave unfinished business, so they decide it’d be better to work together. I liked the Latinx cultural elements as well as the Trans rep with Yadriel. The brujx are an interesting way to bring paranormal aspects into the story and I enjoyed reading about Yadriel, Maritza and their family as they prepared for the Día de Muertos celebration. What I appreciated with Yadriel was that this wasn’t a story of him ‘struggling with his identity’; he firmly knows who he is. What Cemetery Boys depicts is Yadriel’s family struggling with it instead, and how their refusal to see him as he is negatively impacts him. Even at times when they don’t mean to be hurtful, they can still cause harm. This novel was also a refreshing way to approach death. Día de Muertos is probably responsible for that tone, as celebration of life rather than wallowing in death. I don’t think you have to necessarily believe in any kind of afterlife to appreciate this storyline, but if you do then you may find The Cemetery Boys to be a comforting way to remember those you’ve lost. In all, this was a good YA novel. It’s as intriguing as it is inclusive, and as an #OwnVoices book by a Trans and Latinx author, I don’t think you’re going to get a much more authentic story. Especially as a debut, I think Aiden Thomas did a great job writing interesting and layered characters, and I look forward to seeing how he grows as a writer. Thomas already has a book slated to come out in 2021, Lost in the Never Woods, which looks like it’s going to be a fantastic Peter Pan retelling—I can’t wait!

  19. 4 out of 5

    April (Aprilius Maximus)

    “No, it wasn't the end. It was a better beginning.” representation: own voices trans Latinx (Cuban Mexican) MC, Haitian side character, Columbian side character, gay MC & love interest. [trigger warnings are listed at the bottom of this review and may contain spoilers] ★★★★★ This was EVERYTHING. Also the fact that the audiobook was also narrated by a trans Latinx dude was awesome!!! This book was absolutely HILARIOUS, heartwarming and so, so endearing. I'm obsessed. trigger warnings: misgenderi “No, it wasn't the end. It was a better beginning.” representation: own voices trans Latinx (Cuban Mexican) MC, Haitian side character, Columbian side character, gay MC & love interest. [trigger warnings are listed at the bottom of this review and may contain spoilers] ★★★★★ This was EVERYTHING. Also the fact that the audiobook was also narrated by a trans Latinx dude was awesome!!! This book was absolutely HILARIOUS, heartwarming and so, so endearing. I'm obsessed. trigger warnings: misgendering, allusions to deadnaming, depictions of gender dysphoria, exploration of parental death, non-violent references to blood magic, some descriptions of self-harm (for ritualistic purposes) - these taken from Adri's review!, I also wanted to mention racism, mention of deportation and domestic abuse.

  20. 4 out of 5

    ♠ TABI⁷ ♠

    "Queer folks are like wolves," Julian told him. "We travel in packs." Two ownvoices reviews: Caidyn & Adri Step aside, all those of a close mind—this one isn't for you. This is a book for those looking to see themselves so vividly, so wonderfully in a story. This is for the trans readers who have been pushed aside, misunderstood, unseen, and who've been told they're not enough. Disclaimer: I'm a white, cisgender gal who regrettable hasn't taken the time to dive into Latinx culture despite being rai "Queer folks are like wolves," Julian told him. "We travel in packs." Two ownvoices reviews: Caidyn & Adri Step aside, all those of a close mind—this one isn't for you. This is a book for those looking to see themselves so vividly, so wonderfully in a story. This is for the trans readers who have been pushed aside, misunderstood, unseen, and who've been told they're not enough. Disclaimer: I'm a white, cisgender gal who regrettable hasn't taken the time to dive into Latinx culture despite being raised in a place where it's quite prominent. Leading from the above statement, a lot of the Latinx culture and heritage in this book (read: 90% of the content) went right over my head. But the way it was written, the ease and inclusivity of everything?? I felt that. I'm sure those from a Latinx background will appreciate this book more than I could, just as I'm sure transfolk will appreciate this more than I could, too . . . as several of my friends and others have said in their reviews: They felt seen. "There's no way y'all have been around for thousands of years without there being one person not fitting into the 'men are this, women are that' bullshit." Julian sounded so convinced, so sure. His obsidian eyes locked onto Yadriel's. "Maybe they hid it, or ran away, or I dunno, something else, but there's no way you're the first, Yads." Since I really can't speak from a personal perspective regarding all the rep in this book except to shriek "FINALLY YES MORE PEOPLE NEED MORE STORIES LIKE THIS WITH THESE REPRESENTATIONS AND CHARACTER NUANCES AND PORTRAYALS", I'm only going to review the parts that I can really tackle. P L O T — tbh if I was rating this book on plot alone, it would have gotten a shaky 3 stars. The debut factor plays heavily into the plot development of this book and not in a bad way, just not entirely polished or something memorable. And that's okay because, in a lot of ways, it felt like this book wasn't written to be something with a fantastic, gripping plot. It was written for the characters. 'Yadriel snorted. "You're really taking this 'ghost' stuff literally." Julian tilted his chin and grinned in a way he could only describe as preening. "I'm very committed to my new lifestyle." C H A R A C T E R S — Yadriel was absolutely amazing. Julian is a snarky, soft dear. Maritza is the badass queen everybody deserves as a friend. THERE'S SO MANY MORE AMAZING, WELL-DEVELOPED CHARACTERS IN HERE TO SCREAM ABOUT but my brain has decided to cling to these three and kinda go blurry on everything else. But the strongest point of this book from a technical standpoint is the freakin' character depth. They're realistic teenaged characters without seeming overpowered or mini-adults with random spats of drama. They're complicated and messy and annoying because I'm older so I'm like "STOP FIGHTING IT'S STUPID" . . . before I remember having almost the same exact issues when I was a teenager, too. "I'm just thinking." "Thinking what?" "Something selfish." R O M A N C E — this was EXACTLY the angsty, yearning ghost-human romance I expected from this book . . . but also SO MUCH MORE!! Because while they each had their issues, Yadriel and Julian were unfailingly supportive of each other. They bickered and bantered and gave lots of longing heart-eye glances that had me squirming and internally shrieking jUsT kIsS and hnggfffslkqjkqkgskhajhsjhahjsda so!! friggin!! cute!!!! So, all in all, what this uncoordinated review is trying to say: THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT BOOK!! Because it's not just another publication to check off a box on the diversity list; it's bigger and better than that. It's a trans character written by a trans author, shining in their own story without too much angst nor abuse centered on the fact that they're a transperson. THEY'RE JUST A PERSON!! Yes, there are very real struggles such as deadnaming, wriggling into a sweaty binder, living in hoodies, fighting to be really recognized by family as who they are instead of what they were born as . . . but all without being the center of the plot. Nah, the plot is just two boys bantering their way into love and a mysterious killer. AND THAT'S HOW IT SHOULD BE!!! Anyways, I could go on and on, but I shan't. I shall merely leave this horrible review as it is & hope you understand that my flailing is because I loved this story, the world needs this and many, many more like it, and I can't wait to dive into what else this author has to offer. Pre-review: this cover is giving me all the Pynch vibes I received a digital ARC from Swoon Reads via Edelwiess & NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Quotes in the review and reading updates were taken from an uncorrected ARC copy.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Anniek

    When a book has you crying at 5% in, you know it's going to hit hard. Cemetery Boys was one of my most anticipated releases of 2020. I've been desperate to read it for months. So even though I'd preordered a book box with the book, I couldn't wait for it to arrive and purchased the ebook so I could start it on release day. And I have zero regrets, because as high as my expectations were, this book lived up to them perfectly. I firmly believe this will be a new comfort read for me, one I'll reread When a book has you crying at 5% in, you know it's going to hit hard. Cemetery Boys was one of my most anticipated releases of 2020. I've been desperate to read it for months. So even though I'd preordered a book box with the book, I couldn't wait for it to arrive and purchased the ebook so I could start it on release day. And I have zero regrets, because as high as my expectations were, this book lived up to them perfectly. I firmly believe this will be a new comfort read for me, one I'll reread again and again when in need of comforting, and that's honestly the highest praise I can give any book. It's this perfect fantasy with a contemporary feel, full of funny moments but also full of hard-hitting ones. Overall, I found it a rather fluffy fantasy, but it does have its impactful moments, and I thought it had a really great balance between romcom aspects and more impactful ones. Yadriel and Julian have my absolute favourite dynamic, and it was consistently there from the moment they met. Julian just... will not shut up, and Yads has had this long-suffering weariness from the minute they met. Both of these characters are characters you can't help but love, and their relationship is so special to me, because they both have these reasons to believe they're not worthy of (romantic) love and it's wonderful to see them proving each other wrong. Because they're both so incredibly loveable, and they deserve the world. The trans rep was honestly... so incredibly special to me as well. I already cried twice during the first two chapters, because I felt so seen in some really difficult struggles. And it was just amazing to see how this book does deal with transphobia in Yadriel's day to day life, but in a way that never makes this a heavy book to read, which means it's such a safe space to process and engage with these issues.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sleepless Dreamer

    Cemetery Boys is about Yadriel, a sixteen year old trans guy who wants to prove to his family and community that he is a brujo. One thing leads to another and he ends up accidentally resurrecting Julian, a snarky classmate who mysteriously died. We join this duo on their quest to uncover secrets and win over Yadriel's community.  When it comes down to it, there's a lot that isn't great in this book. The plot is not particularly compelling and ends rather abruptly. There are several poor decisions Cemetery Boys is about Yadriel, a sixteen year old trans guy who wants to prove to his family and community that he is a brujo. One thing leads to another and he ends up accidentally resurrecting Julian, a snarky classmate who mysteriously died. We join this duo on their quest to uncover secrets and win over Yadriel's community.  When it comes down to it, there's a lot that isn't great in this book. The plot is not particularly compelling and ends rather abruptly. There are several poor decisions that aren't explained properly. It occasionally feels like we meander around with Yadriel and Julian for no good reason.  The story doesn't exactly drag but it occasionally lacks drive.  However, absolutely none of this matters.  This book remains fantastic. Everything wrong with it just seems so minor because Cemetery Boys has a few strengths that blow every other book away. I need more books like this in my life.  I simply adored the combination of culture and queerness. Coming from a culture that has distinct roles for each gender, I related so deeply to Yadriel's struggle. This book manages to paint exactly how it feels when community members claim to be supportive but refuse to let you take part in a role in your culture outside your assigned gender. It's such a vivid representation of how much it hurts.  Yadriel's journey is so empowering. Reading this book reminded me of the first time I put on a kippah and used a tallit. It's finding your space within your culture, it's loving your community but fighting it nonetheless, being alienated by the very culture that is your home.  Yadriel's best friend is a vegan and does not want to participate in rituals that include animal blood. This means giving up on her magic. Through Yadriel and her, we see these different ways to deal with different facets of your identity that clash.  Beyond that, the Latinx culture was so prominent and vibrant. Yadriel really lives it and as a reader, you just get swept into this beautiful world. I loved learning more about it. Thomas celebrates so many aspects of the culture, from highlighting different accents, vividly describing the celebrations, and all the way to discussing Julian's connection to Spanish. It's truly special and interesting. This book throws away so many irritating ya troupes. Yadriel and his friends feel sixteen. Their voices don't sound like a thirty year old desperately trying to sound young. A significant part of the plot is Yadriel trying to hide Julian from his family. School actually plays a role.  Honestly, the representation here is just so good. Yadriel's transness doesn't feel like the most important part of him. Although the plot makes use of him being trans, it's also more of a ghost and romance story than a classic LGBT+ YA book. It's a book about friendship and growth, not just the woes of being trans.  All in all, this book is fantastic. With great dialogues and ghosts, you really can't go wrong with this book. Also, Julian keeps mispronouncing popular sayings and that's pretty much me so really, everything about this book is relatable. In fact, while writing this review I learned that there's a difference between facets and faucets (although come on, faucets of personality makes sense cause it's like every part of your identity is a different faucet and together the mix creates the whole person?).  What I'm Taking With Me - I did a proper Bar Mitzvah before I knew I was even queer and I'm so grateful for that now.  - Purrcaso is a fantastic cat name.  - I also felt more comfortable to be queer in high school after a trans girl in my year came out and didn't care what people said. Who knew Yadriel and I could have that in common?  ------------------------------- This book is so wholesome and also has one of the best trans reps I've ever seen, I am so content right now. Review to come!

  23. 4 out of 5

    anna (½ of readsrainbow)

    rep: Latinx cast, Mexican-Cuban-American gay trans mc, Colombian-American gay li with ADHD, Puerto Rican-Mexican-American sc, Cuban-American scs, lesbian sc, trans sc tw: deadnaming (name not on page), misgendering, transphobia, mentions of death of a parent, mentions of past gang violence, blood 4.5 ☆ this might be about ghosts but i have never felt more alive also chapter 24 is the gayest shit i have ever read in my entire life

  24. 4 out of 5

    tappkalina

    “You don’t need anyone’s permission to be you, Yads,” Watch me being the queen of theories lol. I had two and both of them turned out to be true. Buddy read with ᴄᴏʟᴇᴛᴛᴇ ♡, ✨ Christy ✨ and Krisztina Imbre. “You don’t need anyone’s permission to be you, Yads,” Watch me being the queen of theories lol. I had two and both of them turned out to be true. Buddy read with ᴄᴏʟᴇᴛᴛᴇ ♡, ✨ Christy ✨ and Krisztina Imbre.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kayla Dawn

    3,5* - I'd love to see this as a movie! 3,5* - I'd love to see this as a movie!

  26. 5 out of 5

    leo | 飛べ

    fuck this book I’m sobbing rtc now how do I rate this? Do I use my brain or my heart? (well technically the question is: which area of my brain am I supposed to use to rate this?)

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lucy Tonks

    "No, it wasn't the end. It was a better beginning." I really liked this book, it was so cute, I do have a few complaints which I'll get to in a second, but at the time that I read this book this was just what I needed! This book follows Yadriel, a trans boy, who is determined to prove his gender to his family and that he is a real brujo. With the help of his cousin, Maritza, he performs a retual to try an summon his murdered cousin's spirit. However, he end up summoning the ghost of the school's "No, it wasn't the end. It was a better beginning." I really liked this book, it was so cute, I do have a few complaints which I'll get to in a second, but at the time that I read this book this was just what I needed! This book follows Yadriel, a trans boy, who is determined to prove his gender to his family and that he is a real brujo. With the help of his cousin, Maritza, he performs a retual to try an summon his murdered cousin's spirit. However, he end up summoning the ghost of the school's resident bad boy, Julian Diaz. Julian is determinated to find out what happened to him, so left with no choice Yadriel makes a bargain to help him. But the longer they spend time together, the less Yadriel wants let Julian leave. The plot was intriguing, but quite predictable. From the beginning of the book I said please let this character not be the villain, but low and behold, they were the villain. I was quite surprised by how predictable it was since I hear so many good things about this book and I never heard this book being depicted as predictable. But taking into consideration that this was a debut novel, the author did an amazing job. I loved learning more about Latinx community and the brujos, and I'm really interested to learn more about this topic and this culture. To be honest, I also found this book to be a bit more younger than I expected. This wasn't as dark as I expected. Like when I heard the word "ghost", I thought it would be a but more spookier, but, well, that did not happened. This book ended up being more of a rom-com, than spooky book. I really loved having Yadriel as a main character and, oh boy, I loved Julian. This was just the cute book that I needed. Although, I felt like the romance was a bit rushed and there could have been more development, I still really liked it. I love how Julian was so understanding of Yadriel. Yadriel struggled so much with his family and them not being able ot understand him, that was just what he needed, somebody to understand him. Maritza had to be my favourite character. She was so badass and, most importantly, she was always there for Yads, she was always there to help him when he needed. By the way, can we talk about her purple hair?! LOVE IT I really liked this book, but I am still sad that it ended up being predictable. Overlooking that, I am really excited to read more from this author in the future!

  28. 4 out of 5

    alana ♡

    “Just because we follow the ancient ways, does not mean we can’t also grow.” Rating: 4.5/5 stars My heart! Aiden Thomas’ debut Cemetery Boys was absolutely incredible and I can’t wait to read more from this author in the future. Before we even start talking about this book can we just talk about how MONUMENTAL of a moment this author had being the first trans author to hit the NYT Bestselling List?! We love to see it and I hope that a book like this continues to inspire more authors to fight fo “Just because we follow the ancient ways, does not mean we can’t also grow.” Rating: 4.5/5 stars My heart! Aiden Thomas’ debut Cemetery Boys was absolutely incredible and I can’t wait to read more from this author in the future. Before we even start talking about this book can we just talk about how MONUMENTAL of a moment this author had being the first trans author to hit the NYT Bestselling List?! We love to see it and I hope that a book like this continues to inspire more authors to fight for their stories to get out into the world because there is just so much to love within these 350 pages. I’m going to keep this review on the shorter side because I pretty much loved everything about it so there’s not much to say in that sense. From the culture, to the world building, LGBT+ rep, Latinx rep, fall/Halloween vibes, lovable characters, family dynamics, action, and heartfelt moment this story truly has so much going for it. It’s most definitely one of those books where you want to carve out a good chunk of time to read it because once you start it you’re not going to want to put it down. Seriously, take my word on it and thank me later. Yadriel is one of the most admirable and lovable characters I’ve read in such a long time that reading his story felt so refreshing. I also absolutely adored how well the author blended fantasy elements and culture into the story. It never once felt overwhelming and I think for those who don’t really venture into fantasy stories but enjoy contemporaries this will still be a big hit for you. All in all, just do yourself a favor and pick this up. It’s perfect for this time of year and such a meaningful story. My heart was so, so happy reading this so I can’t even imagine how impactful of a read this would be for readers who can finally see themselves represented in a story like Yadriel’s. Blog | Twitter

  29. 5 out of 5

    jocelyn

    5 / 5 this made me cry but it also made me so so happy omg 😭 to start off, the characters were the best part i think. i loved yadriel, julian, and maritza so much. i can relate to yadriel in some ways. he’s more anxious than the others and he can be awkward af, but he’s also so driven. i wanted to FIGHT everyone misgendering him, and i was so proud of everything he did. i can’t believe i can’t give him a hug. julian, on the other hand, was so funny and hyper, but he’s also protective and can get 5 / 5 this made me cry but it also made me so so happy omg 😭 to start off, the characters were the best part i think. i loved yadriel, julian, and maritza so much. i can relate to yadriel in some ways. he’s more anxious than the others and he can be awkward af, but he’s also so driven. i wanted to FIGHT everyone misgendering him, and i was so proud of everything he did. i can’t believe i can’t give him a hug. julian, on the other hand, was so funny and hyper, but he’s also protective and can get angry easily. i loved him IMMEDIATELY. he’s also a ghost, which made yadriel’s and julian’s growning relationship sadder :( but i love how they balance and support each other. one of my favorite moments was with the yearbook and how julian crossed out his deadname, and i just KFHSKHFJD and i found maritza is so cute and an amazing friend, and i imagine her to be sooo pretty. pink and purple ombre hair? yES. of course, the rep in this book was great! we have a trans gay main character, with a gay love interest, and pretty much everyone is latinx. the descriptions of their culture, dia de muertos, and history were gorgeous and taught me new things. i’ve even learned some spanish 💀 i could read some of it due to its similarities with english and latin, though i had to google translate a lot of the phrases... but i determined to know what all of them said. the magic wasn’t used too, too often, but it was very interesting, with the portaje and using blood. magic is different for brujos and brujas, which is what causes the conflict with yadriel being trans. i did find the plot predictable, but damn i loved the ending. getting into spoiler-y territory, but seeing yadriel, julian, and maritza fighting so hard for each other broke me. i think i might’ve cried when we saw what yadriel did and julian’s reaction, but seeing them reunite was TT and the second time i cried was when yadriel was finally accepted as a brujo. i was soooo happy for him, and he deserved it so much. the book gave me many many emotions and i’m better for it 😭

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Lanz

    Cemetery Boys is a solid debut novel which I think features both prevalent pros and cons. The vibrant culture and outgoing characters in this story were wonderful to read about, however, I was let down with the pacing and plot. ~★~ What is this book about? ~★~ Yadriel is a transgender boy struggling to prove to his Latinx family that he is a real Brujo. As Día de los Muertos approaches, Yadriel decides to stop waiting for his family’s acceptance, and performs a ritual in attempt at summoning h Cemetery Boys is a solid debut novel which I think features both prevalent pros and cons. The vibrant culture and outgoing characters in this story were wonderful to read about, however, I was let down with the pacing and plot. ~★~ What is this book about? ~★~ Yadriel is a transgender boy struggling to prove to his Latinx family that he is a real Brujo. As Día de los Muertos approaches, Yadriel decides to stop waiting for his family’s acceptance, and performs a ritual in attempt at summoning his cousins spirit. Things don’t go as planned, though, and Yadriel ends up summoning the ghost of Julian Diaz- a reckless high school student determined not to pass over into the afterlife. ~★~ While I neither loved or hated this book, I think my opinion can be considered unpopular due to the amount of praise Cemetery Boys has received. Things started off well; I was fond of the established atmosphere as well as Yadriel’s narration of events. Things got even better when Julian was introduced, he’s just so charming! This is definitely a character driven book, which I normally prefer, but I actually ended up wishing for more from the plot. For a large part of the story, Yadriel is helping Julian look for his friends. After a while I lost interest in this storyline, hoping for something more intricate or suspenseful. The pacing seemed to slow down in the middle as well, which made me feel a little bored until things picked up again at the end. I could feel Aiden Thomas’ voice through Yadriel, which is a really powerful thing for an author to pull off (both the author and the protagonist are transgender, queer and latinx). It was great to feel that bit of authenticity in the narrative, as well as what I can imagine were some of Thomas’ struggles represented through Yads. Overall, I feel slightly let down by the hype surrounding this book, but in no way do I regret reading it. It seems that the vast majority have come to love Cemetery Boys, and I’d still recommend it!

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