THE CEMETERY BOYS
RATING: ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Starting off the new year with a one-star. I am cursed!
The horror/thriller genre of YA books is a mystery to me. Awhile ago, in my blissfully ignorant, post-high school days, I spent a lot of time watching horror movies, just because. Instead of being desensitized to blood, gore, and cheap scares, I made myself highly intolerant of such things and am easily spooked just by someone quietly entering the kitchen while my back is turned (my roommates can attest). All of this might have contributed to my shirking of the genre within a genre, and only recently (re: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake) did I start finding myself drawn to the suspenseful, supernatural (and potentially gruesome) types of YA books.
I can’t tell if I made a horrible mistake or not. The Cemetery Boys is one of those books that I thought would freak me out with its supernatural and somewhat eerie premise. Someone walking silently into the kitchen is scarier at this point.
The novel, by Heather Brewer, follows city-boy Stephen and his attempt to acclimate to the backwoods town of Spencer. With his mom in an asylum and mounting hospital bills, his dad opts for moving back to his small hometown with Stephen’s grandmother in hopes to find some new employment prospects. Here, Stephen gets swept up into the lore and strange history of Spencer when he meets Devon (the “leader” of the delinquents who frequent nightly romps in the cemetery) and his twin sister Cara (insert love-interest with a punk-rock, goth vibe). As Stephen attempts to balance his teenage hormones for Cara and not get on Devon’s bad side, he discovers a mighty secret to the town: Spencer is cursed. And the only way to save the town from the “bad stuff” is by making sacrifices to the Winged Ones (read: murder someone). As Stephen gets in deeper with Devon (a believer of the Winged Ones), he starts to wonder if Devon and the rest of the “Cemetery Boys” might be killing off townsfolk to appease some ancient myth.
And he could be next (This is where that creepy, dramatic music starts to play and people gasp in horror!)
Stephen is not a likable character. I don’t even think Stephen likes himself. Brewer imbues Stephen with the stereotypical teenage boy trope–he wants to get into Cara’s pants, and he wants to get into them now. Not even a few minutes after meeting her, does Stephen think about taking her clothes off. That’s fine, I’ll go with hormonal sixteen year old thoughts, but he misconstrues this for love later, when he barely knows anything about the tarot-reading girl neighbor with the crazy mom. (Ah, yes. Cara’s mom is insane too. They can bond over something, how sweet?)
Besides his trumped up feelings for Cara within a day of knowing her, Stephen has no sense of curiosity. No desire to find anything out on his own. The Cemetery Boys sets up the novel for Stephen to uncover the mystery of the Winged Ones, if it’s true or not, if Devon is actually behind it, etc. But instead, he’s led by the hand of others, given clues and hints to delve deeper, and never really acts on it. The information he amasses from all his “detective-ing” amounts to nothing other than some instantaneous decision to confront Devon. This book was plotted poorly and inconsistently which left Stephen acting as a complete dud when it came to seeking out the truth.
Coupled with that, The Cemetery Boys was unsure what to focus on. Devon and his gang (a complete lack of bromance that could have been tapped into, but left to sterile and skeleton-like side characters) or his messed up home life (why didn’t he want to call his mom at the hospital?) Brewer drops hints at perhaps a full circle tie in, with his mom losing her mind and raving about the Winged Ones too, but it goes no where. Simply some silly ploy to tease readers and then not carry out. This book was chock full of thriller, suspenseful potential but captivated me as much as CSPAN does on a good day.
I wanted the scary, spooky, keep-you-up-all-night discovery that Stephen should have experienced. Instead it was a compilation of insomnia and wet dreams of Cara. Nothing really made sense or surprised me, and if I wasn’t trapped on a plane flying home, I would have dropped this book, like, so fast.
In the end, the tl;dr–Not worth it, unless this is typical Brewer writing (The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod) and you don’t mind the lack of anything happening in this book.
This book will be released on March 30th, 2015.
IF YOU LIKED THIS BOOK, YOU MIGHT LIKE: The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod by Heather Brewer, Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake