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YA Review: Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas (CYBILS finalist and winner)

Title: Cemetery Boys

Author: Aiden Thomas

Year Published: 2020

Category: YA fiction (speculative)
Pages: 336
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2021 Google Reading map)USA (CA)

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): 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.

Review: This book was a finalist for the CYBILS Awards so I read it as a round 2 judge.

Ok. Confession time. I was not looking forward to reading the speculative fiction books for the CYBILS. I was convinced that it was a genre that I didn't like. Guess what? I was wrong! I really enjoyed reading the books in this category. Just goes to show, we should approach all books with an open mind.

I liked Yadriel and Maritza as soon as the book started. They are cousins who have each others' backs as they navigate their way through life, school, family, and their experiences with the spirits. Julian is also a likable character and it didn't hurt that he and Yadriel were so darn cute with one another.

While I had worried ahead of time that I wouldn't like the spirits/ghosts aspects of this book, I actually found the idea of brujx really interesting (they guide spirits into the next world when they are having trouble leaving earth). And, I'll confess that when they saw all their ancestors on Dia des Muertos, I was jealous and thought how wonderful it would be to see my family that has passed.

This book tied for my choice for first place in the YA speculative fiction category so I am happy it won!

Challenges for which this counts: 
  • A to Z--"C"
  • Alphabet Soup--"T"
  • Diversity--Latinx and trans characters and author
  • Literary Escapes--California

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