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Book Review: “Cemetery Boys” by Aiden Thomas

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

**This review may contain spoilers**

There was one day I wasn’t feeling too well, and one of my friends knew just how to cheer me up: by buying me a book off my wishlist. Usually, I’d be hesitant about accepting a gift that’s for anything other than Christmas or my birthday, but he was persistent. The book came in the mail a few days later, and I was incredibly excited to read Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas.

I’ve had my eyes on Cemetery Boys for months now, but every time I would grab it, I would always set it back down before leaving the bookstore. I think I felt intimidated by it, as it explores cultures and gender identities that I’m not fully familiar with. After my friend bought me the book though, I had zero excuses to keep avoiding it. Not to mention, the point of reading is to explore the unfamiliar. So, two days after it came in the mail, I sat down and started reading Cemetery Boys.

To say I loved it feels like an understatement. Cemetery Boys follows Yadriel, a “trans boy determined to prove his gender to his traditional Latinx family.” To try and prove who he is to his family, Yadriel summons a ghost who he initially hoped would be his cousin; it turns out to be a classmate, Julian. Julian refuses to let Yadriel help him pass into the afterlife without making a few pitstops beforehand, and Cemetery Boys follows their adventures and developing relationship.

Yadriel was incredibly well written. I always get nervous going into novels that explore trans identities, mostly due to the fact that they can be horribly stereotyped and poorly written. Yadriel was the exact opposite of this. He had a ton of development that felt very human, and the concerns he had were understandable given his circumstances. As a nonbinary individual, seeing a trans character take the spotlight in a book and be represented well made me happy. Aiden Thomas did a phenomenal job explaining the trans experience to the audience without making it overwhelming or difficult to understand.

The same can be said for the descriptions of Latin American culture—something I had very little knowledge of prior to this book. Although Cemetery Boys isn’t the best representation of the culture, as it does have a bit of a fantasy twist added in, it gave me more insight into something I had zero prior grasp on. It was fun to be able to learn about something I initially knew very little about, and has honestly made me even more curious about cultures outside of my own. 

A final good thing I will touch on is the character interactions. I absolutely adored the interactions between each character,  especially the interactions between Yadriel, his cousin Maritza, and Julian. The three of them had one-liners that made me laugh out loud, as well as more emotional moments that nearly moved me to tears. The relationships between these three characters, their personal development, and watching their personalities intertwine was really fun. I partially wish Aiden Thomas would write a second book, just so we could see where they all go in the future.

My only slight complaint with this book is that there were a few too many spelling and grammatical errors that I wouldn’t have expected from a published novel. I’ve noticed as I read more that typos are far more frequent than people make them out to be, which is entirely understandable. Writers are human, and I’ve had my fair share of mistakes within my own articles and pieces. It just threw me off to find as many as I did in Cemetery Boys (over four, from what I remember). What I will say, though, is that the grammatical errors did not ruin my reading experience. I still had a lovely time reading the book, but the errors were something to note coming out of reading it.

Overall, Cemetery Boys is a sweet story discussing the struggles and adventures of our teenage protagonists. I loved the way the story was told, the characters, and the general atmosphere of the book itself. Although a bit cliché at times, I couldn’t help falling in love with the book. I hope to read more of Thomas’ work in the future, and would highly recommend Cemetery Boys to anyone looking for a sweet and emotional young adult fantasy story.

Tessa is a sophomore journalism and theater double major at SUNY Oswego. They love reading, hanging out with friends, and crocheting when not doing homework. They also adore theatre, and are hoping to get more engaged with the art as they go through college.
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