Cemetery Boys follows Yadriel, a trans teenager trying to gain acceptance from his family. His family are brujos, a group of magical Latinos who can summon ghosts and help them pass on to the afterlife. When Yadriel’s cousin, Miguel, dies, Yadriel tries to prove he’s a real brujo by summoning his ghost, but he accidentally summons Julian, a fellow schoolmate, instead.
I really enjoyed reading this book. The characters and dialogue are Thomas’ greatest writing strength. I loved getting to know Yadriel and his family, and the energetic characters of Maritza (Yadriel’s cousin) and Julian were so much fun to read. It’s hard to find stories with fully fleshed out characters, but I loved Cemetery Boys’ main characters.
The overall story gives me Coco and Gods of Jade and Shadow vibes. I enjoyed reading about the history, magic, and culture of the brujos, as well as the Día de Muertos. The themes of family, acceptance, and love shine on the page.
That being said, the pacing was a little slow, and the climax felt rushed in comparison; most of the plot was thrown into the last couple of chapters, and the action scenes aren’t quite punchy enough. Since I prefer character-driven stories, this didn’t affect my overall rating. However, it’s something to keep in mind if you prefer plot-driven stories over slow-burn and character-driven stories.
It’s also worth noting that while Maritza plays an important role in the book, the women are literally told in the beginning to stay home and cook. Yadriel makes it clear that he does not approve of this; however, the healing and cooking role of the women characters does not change throughout the book. So while the story focuses on breaking gender roles/stereotypes, I found it a little odd that Yadriel breaks stereotypes, but Maritza and the other women are still forced to be stuck in their traditional roles.
But bottom line, this was a fun, lively, and heartwarming read. If you’re looking for snarky characters, trans and LGBTQ representation, with a heavy dash of magic and ghosts, then I recommend picking this up!