Book Review: The Cemetery Boys

The Cemetery Boys
By: Heather Brewer
Published by: Harper Collins
Release date: March 30, 2015
Genre: YA thriller
288 pages
Source: ARC kindly provided by publisher

Let me start by saying how much I like Heather Brewer. I really, really do. I love how she interacts with fans online. I love her constant message of acceptance for them, no matter what. I love that she gives kids who might consider themselves "misfits" a place to belong. She embraces them, champions them, speaks for them- and the world is a better place for it. If you don't follow her on social media, you should.

I do follow her on social media, and have been watching her posts about The Cemetery Boys for months. She frequently posted about how hard it was for her to write about topics that are difficult for her. She talked about how the pain was worth it. My expectations for the book, I acknowledge, are colored by having read all of those posts. Because of this, while reading The Cemetery Boys, I kept waiting for The Big Scene- something highly emotional, irrationally difficult. I didn't find it.

That's not to say that The Big Scene isn't there. It may be. I may find it, should I re-read the book at some point. Even if it really isn't there, though, there's still some really good stuff to wrestle. The theme of the misfit comes through, as well as misunderstandings of mental illness and first love. All of these are spot-on for a YA audience, and I'm sure many readers will identify with and love this story.

If you're a fan of Brewer's Vlad Todd books, be aware that this one contains more objectionable language and adult themes. This content didn't bother me as a reader, and felt fairly organic for the age range.

The big reveal at the end did surprise me, I am happy to report. Sometimes with books like this it's far to easy to guess who the antagonist is. It wasn't a choice I would have made if I was the author, but neither is the choice invalid. Brewer is able to create some great images in that scene that I certainly appreciated, and I think you will as well.


When Stephen is forced to move back to the nowhere town where his father grew up, he’s already sure he’s not going to like it. Spencer, Michigan, is like a town straight out of a Hitchcock movie, with old-fashioned people who see things only in black-and-white. But things start looking up when Stephen meets the mysterious twins Cara and Devon. They’re total punks–hardly the kind of people Stephen’s dad wants him hanging out with–but they’re a breath of fresh air in this backward town. The only problem is, Cara and Devon don’t always get along, and as Stephen forms a friendship with the charismatic Devon and something more with the troubled Cara, he starts to feel like he’s getting caught in the middle of a conflict he doesn’t fully understand. And as Devon’s group of friends, who hang out in a cemetery they call The Playground, get up to increasingly reckless activities to pass the summer days, Stephen worries he may be in over his head.

Stephen’s fears prove well-founded when he learns of Spencer’s dark past. It seems the poor factory town has a history of “bad times,” and many of the town’s oldest residents attribute the bad times to creatures right out of an urban legend. The legend goes that the only way the town will prosper again is if someone makes a sacrifice to these nightmarish creatures. And while Stephen isn’t one to believe in old stories, it seems Devon and his gang might put a lot of faith in them. Maybe even enough to kill for them.

Now, Stephen has to decide what he believes, where his allegiances lie, and who will really be his friend in the end.


  1. Sounds like solid reading for the person who maybe isn't so heavily involved in her social media. It sounds like it got your hopes a little too high. From the other side looking in, it sounds like a great read!
    Very classy review! I like your critiques.


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