Cemetery Boys is a queer MG/YA fantasy with a lot of heart, sass, and spirit… literally.
The character dynamics were diverse, not only weaving together romantic ties between the two leads but also familial ties (within the brujx community) and friendship (between Yadriel and Maritza/between Julian and his friends). The story is told from Yadriel’s perspective, but seeing his connection to his support system, though not perfect, was enough to propel the story forward for me. The book presents concepts of guilt and accountability in a family that tries its best to understand, especially when culture and tradition have not yet come so far. For a book about death and dying, it was oddly very wholesome.
I appreciated how the book touched upon that gray area of acceptance, where the protagonist’s family wants to and is actively trying to understand, but the reader is still privy to all the missteps and stumbles that aren’t usually discussed in MG/YA queer fantasy. Mistakes that are “small” to the family (like um, misgendering) are enough to shatter Yadriel’s world, and this disconnect is, in my opinion, handled well in the book.
What didn’t quite work for me in Cemetery Boys was the casual sense of urgency. There’s a huge, deadly mystery the characters need to solve in a few days, but we spend a lot of chapters chilling in Yadriel’s room or going to school every day. I’ve cut class for much less. And while I understand the budding relationship between the two characters is an integral part of the book, I do wish we spent more time on the urgent, deadly mystery—the villain of which, in my opinion, was not given the screen time they deserved.
Still, the book wraps up nicely. I would recommend it for a younger audience, but it still gave me fuzzy feelings inside.