For What It's Worth

For What It's Worth

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Review: cemetery Boys By Aiden Thomas

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. ~
Goodreads

Source: Library - audiobook


Cemetery Boys
was surprisingly sweet and funny, Surprisingly, because I had been expecting a much darker tale.

Yadriel, a trans boy, is on a quest to prove to his very traditional Latinx family that he is ready to be a Brujo (a person that guides spirits into the afterlife). This leads him on a path of testing his powers, finding love, trying to vanquish evil, save the world, and get his family to understand him. No big.

I listened to this on audio and it worked so well because Yadriel starts out confident in who he is but also tired and wary of the constant dismissiveness by his family. Thanks to his new (annoying) ghost sidekick and blossoming crush – Julian (a boy Yadriel summoned from the dead, has to send back and who does NOT want to go back!), that confidence and surety grows. The narration of Avi Roque was able to capture the subtle changes in Yadriel’s personality as the book progresses and the brashness/vulnerability of Julian.

 


💕Super cute romance and friendships! Julian is boisterous and outgoing and charges into every situation but he accepts Yadriel’s transness immediately and unconditionally and they balance each other out. Yadriel’s vegetarian Bruja cousin Maritza was a hoot, Julian’s underground and forgotten friends, even Yadriel's often misguided family round out the cast.

💀Warning! There is some transphobia in here such as deadnaming, misgendering. Not to discount it, but it’s portrayed less as transphobia and more as a loving family trying to understand and not getting it right. Even so, it was hard listening to Yadriel keep having to correct them. It shouldn’t have kept being his job to forgive them rather than for them to learn to do better. On the plus side there is a very rewarding ending in that regard.

🙌Own Voices – both the author and the audiobook narrator are trans, Latinx and it shines through in both big and subtle ways. Multiple LGBQT characters, the vibrant Latinx culture and traditions of Dia de Muertos are lovingly portrayed. Details like Yadriel wearing his binder, using a boys bathroom for the first time were ways that his transness was casually represented.

👎So this definitely wasn’t the scary book I was expecting but there is a mystery and a few rituals of the dead that *might* be scary for some readers. Not to give too much away but it starts with Yadriel’s murdered cousin and then Latinx, often transient, teens going missing. Honestly, this was the weakest part of the book for me. It wasn’t balanced very well with the romance aspect and considering the subject matter I would have liked it to carry more weight. 

👍Overall, not quite what I was expecting, but a fun story with the sweetest of romances, a nuanced portrayal of culture, family and acceptance with a dash of danger and a surprising - and welcome - touch of humor.

27 comments:

  1. Oooh, this is on my wish list for audiobooks. So many people enjoyed it! Glad you loved it as well, Karen! ❤

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    1. It's a very popular one. I had to wait for months for my library hold.

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  2. I like your little graphics! I've heard the audio is amazing and I had been expecting a darker story too, maybe because of the cover.

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    1. Thanks - I was bored lol And anything to avoid actually blogging hahaha

      It has darker elements but overall this was a romance, finding yourself kind of story.

      The audio was fantastic.

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  3. This is a fun format you used for your review. I am surprised to hear how super cute this book was, but you know I would love it because it was super cute.

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    1. Thank you!

      It did tackle serious topics but the (cute) romance overshadows an lot of the other things going on.

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  4. I'm loving how you set up this review! I like trying new things for reviews, and I should do it more often. Spice things up. LOL I'm glad you liked this one overall. I did think it would be a bit darker, but that's okay! It's one I hope to eventually check out.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. Thanks Lauren! It's been so long since I've written reviews I needed prompts and something fun to get back into it lol

      It's not totally light and fluffy but it's not as intense about death like I was thinking.

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  5. Sounds like it has a lot to offer! And so timely too. There's so much going on now, and the fact that its OwnVoices- nice. Sounds like an awesome read. :)

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    1. I think that made all the difference. The love came through in a way I don't think it would have otherwise without the own voice narrative and narrator.

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  6. What an amazing and in-depth review! I love when a book isn’t entirely whet I was expecting but I leave feeling satisfied. Sounds interesting and different (I would hope for more spooky too; glad it’s not just me!).

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    1. Awww thanks Charlotte. It was a fun book even if it wasn't quite what I was expecting. I think the audio really helped with that.

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  7. It seems like there's a lot going on here - trans character, cultural issues, family dynamics, spirits, romance - but it sounds like it all blended together well. Glad this one was enjoyable, even if it wasn't exactly what you expected.

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    1. Definitely - it was all seamlessly portrayed.

      I guess I just assumed because it was about raising the dead and all that it would be creepier lol

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    2. LOL Well yeah, I would have made that assumption, too. :)

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    1. It was fun and very sweet while still tackling bigger issues.

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  9. I think I also felt like there were some weak spots in the plot, but it's really great to see some YA ownvoices trans rep! I'm glad you liked it!

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    1. I hadn't realized you read this Kit.

      It was just weird to have something so serious (missing transient teens) sort of dropped but overall, I think the author did a really good job of balancing so many things.

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  10. Oh yes! Most definitely a book that appeals to me.

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    1. Thanks. I needed something to jump start me lol

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  12. Look, a new review, a new format *nods approvingly* :D

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  13. I have seen this one all over the place, but I had zero idea what it was about other than the MC was transgender. Good to hear it's not too dark. I hope to get to it at some point this year. Thanks for sharing your review. 🙌🙌🙌

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    1. It has dark elements but she overall lighter tone.

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