November 18, 2021

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
Rating: 4 Stars

Release Date: September 1, 2020

Format: eBook (personal library) + Audiobook (borrowed from the library)

Publisher: Swoon Reads


Check out the book on Bookshop.org

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Aiden Thomas’ Cemetery Boys is a beautiful coming-of-age story, filled with magic, romance, and diverse characters. Readers are given a taste of the culture and surrounding Dia de Los Muertos, while also exploring the unique magic system for the brujx that Thomas created.  


I was invested in Thomas' characters from the first page. The relationship between Yadriel and Maritza was heartwarming and beautiful; having someone who gets you and is in your corner no matter what is so important. Thomas had me rooting for Yadriel and his struggle for his family to embrace him for who he is all the way to the end of the story - I couldn’t stop reading without knowing how things would end up for Yadriel at the end. 


I’m not part of the LGBTQ community (so please don’t consider this an #OwnVoices reviewer perspective) but I felt the author did a great job in giving representation to LGBTQ+ characters. He also gave a portrayal of real-life issues that the LGBTQ+ community faces, such as deadnaming, transphobia, homophobia, and isolation, respectfully and thoughtfully. Nothing ever felt thrown in “just because” or to check some type of box. Mr. Thomas brought up a lot of issues that I, as a cisgender female, did not consider. For example, there doesn’t have to be malice behind deadnaming someone or using incorrect pronouns for it to be painful. 


I didn’t initially realize it, but after some research, I discovered that in addition to the book being written by a Latinx transgender man the book is narrated by Avi Roque (who is Latinx, transgender, and non-binary). I enjoyed their performance and how they brought each of the characters to life. My favorite part of their performance was their narration of Maritza, especially how I felt the passion and determination in her fierce defense of Yadriel. That kind of emotion doesn’t always come across for other narrators. 


The book serves as a celebration of the culture surrounding Dia de Los Muertos, and an introduction for those who might not be familiar (the book was not intended to be a comprehensive lesson). I did predict the plot twist around halfway through the book, but that didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story. I usually recommend books to a specific audience. However, I think this is a necessary read for everyone at the young adult level or above, especially for those who are already fans of the fantasy genre. 


CW: Death, Shooting References, Death of a Parent (not on the page), Use of Blood Sacrifice (for Healing), Moderate Swearing, Human Sacrifice 


About the Author:

Aiden Thomas is a trans, Latinx, New York Times bestselling author of young adult novels. They received an MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College. Originally from Oakland, California, they now make their home in Portland, OR. Aiden is notorious for not being able to guess the endings of books and movies and organizes their bookshelves by color.

Pronouns: he/him and they/them

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