Hey everyone! Welcome to a new book review in my section. On this occasion, I will be discussing Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas.Which I was thrilled to read it after seeing how much hype it has been receiving from the book community since the beginning of the year, even before its release. Anywhere I went, no matter whether it was Twitter, Instagram, or Goodreads, there it was: it’s burgundy cover exposing two boys with death literally hanging from their shoulders, the moon shining bright on top of them. So, when I finally got my hands on it, I was psyched. However, in the back of my mind only one doubt resided, Would Cemetery Boys live up to its tale? Keep reading this review to find out.
Author: Aiden Thomas
Publication date: September 1st, 2020
Main characters: Yadriel, Maritza, Julian
POV: Yadriel, third-person
Sequel, number in series, or stand-alone? Stand-alone
Previous book: –
Following book: –
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
We follow the story of Yadriel: a trans guy that belongs to a highly conservative coven of Latinx brujxs who are in charge of connecting the world of spirits with our Earth, helping them pass on to the next life. After his cousin’s sudden death, desperate to find acceptance in his community, along with his best friend, Maritza, Yadriel attempts to perform his own ritual to summon his cousin and discover who was behind his murder.
However, things go unexpectedly south when instead of receiving Miguel, his cousin, Yadriel accidentally summons the ghost of Julian Diaz, his school’s troublemaker who apparently died the same day as his cousin. The thing is, that Julian has some untied ends he has to take care of before passing, and now, it falls in Yadriel’s shoulders to make them right.
And the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.
Positive points in Cemetery Boys
I think this book arrived just when our community needed the most, in a time in which multiple representations are no longer optional, but necessary. When I say that certain books needed to be written, I’m referring to stories like Yadriel’s. As a Latinx reader, it was interesting to see the author make use of the Spanish language as another tool (and not just for terms of endearment and/or cursing) to make the Brujxs employ their magic, or how he managed to mix different Latinx traditions to form a single way of beliefs. Even though the book and the Brujx community is Mexican/Cuban centered, I could feel a little bit of all our Latinx roots there, by reading this book, you can sense just how much time and effort the author took for research, to create a solid, and believable world with accurate representation.
What I liked the most about this book, is that even though most of us don’t belong to a secret coven that helps spirits pass on, Yadriel’s story is somehow relatable to the whole LGBTQ+ community, just a person trying to demonstrate their loved ones who they are, doing anything to be seen as how they feel. I read in an interview Aiden Thomas did that in their book, they didn’t want to portray the two extreme reactions from families that we usually see in LGBTQ+ book (either they love and support their loved one or they reject them completely) that they tried to navigate the oceans of acceptance and learning, writing a family that loves their son, but who fail to understand him. It’s a learning process, and it’s beautifully done in Cemetery Boys.
Negative points in Cemetery Boys
On the other side, some things bothered me about this book, first of all, even though I get that the Brujx community was stuck in their old ways, I must say that I was disappointed at the role women had in the community, they were healers, yes, but when they had to go and look for Miguel, all of them stayed at home cooking while the men went outside to face danger. Healing properties can be extremely useful on the field and even then, there is no justification for portraying women in such a weak angle. While from their unacceptance of Yadriel’s gender identity we can see that they are stuck in their old ways, towards the end of the book the community learns to recognize him and to validate him as what he is: a boy. Meanwhile, the theme of women is not even addressed and at times like this, it’s not something we can afford as a society.
However, this is not the main reason I chose to place this book within the four-stars range than in the 5 stars one. It has to do with the ending of the book.
SPOILERS OF THE CEMETERY BOYS ENDING BY AIDEN THOMAS BELOW.
PROCEED UNDER YOUR OWN RISK.
This book had me worked up for the beginning, preparing me for the huge, heart-breaking finale that it would bring. Would Julian, the boy Yadriel had come to love, pass on? What about Julian’s friends, who had come to be his family? How would Rio take that his little brother was dead? I was so sure the ending of this book would make me sob uncontrollably and I was so not ready for it. But still, it kind of bummed me out that in the end, everything was fixed, I chatted this with some friends and I was accused of a masochist, which I cannot deny but it’s like the whole book we were anticipating something that didn’t happen. For a moment, I even though Yadriel was going to sacrifice himself for Julian and I guess that without a happy ending, the book would’ve taught us something different.
But then again, my friends pointed out that happy endings are something writers have long owed queer books and I cannot say anything against that either.
To be honest, this was one of the most interesting reads I’ve had this year, it explores diverse aspects of today’s society towards acceptance and diversity that I really appreciated. I think that is all I have for you today but, if you are interested in my rants, you can follow me on Goodreads, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram, where I like to get a little goofier. And if you want more content about books, stay tuned to the blog!
And remember, even if sometimes feels like it, you´re not alone, there´s always something rooting for you. But if you feel that no one out there is, I would happily be that person, here´s my email if you ever need someone to talk to, I will respond. email@example.com