By Aiden Thomas
Cemetary Boys is a very seasonal read right now with its cemetery setting, leading up to El Día de los Muertos. Yadriel was born into a family gifted with divine abilities. All the women of his family serve life, able to heal even mortal injuries, while the men serve death, leading lost spirits to their afterlife. Yadriel is trans, though, and while his family recognizes him, they insist that Lady Death will not, and refuse to let him perform the necessary male ritual that will awaken his powers.
When Yadriel attempts the ritual in secret, with the assistance of a cousin, he accidentally summons the wrong ghost in the process, a fellow classmate from his school. The ghost challenges Yadriel to solve his murder, and in the process, they uncover a slew of disappearances throughout their LA neighborhood. It’s a great premise and well-thought out mystery, but I realized early on that the novel is very much for young adult readers, perhaps even middle school rather than high school. I liked and cared about the characters, but felt more sympathy for the overwhelmed and often clueless parents and grandparents than I did for the teenage protagonists.
It was also quickly clear to me what was going on with the mystery, which I took as another sign that this is truly a book for younger readers, ones who are still being introduced to plot twists and suspense in books. I would have loved this book in my preteens, and I feel a little sad that now I found it at times tiresomely predictable, though I suppose that is an inevitable part of getting older. Happy Day of the Dead, everyone!