Monday, March 23, 2015

The Cemetery Boys by Zac Brewer

*Note: Since my original reading and review of The Cemetery Boys the author has announced publicly that they identify as male and are going by the first name Zac.  I have changed my review to reflect this.

Title: The Cemetery Boys
Author: Zac Brewer
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date:
March 30, 2015

Cover Impressions: Seriously, the book is called the Cemetery Boys and you didn't include a creepy graveyard scene?  WTH?

The Gist:
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.


The Cemetery Boys was a pretty surprising read.  I wasn't expecting to like this one as much as I did.  There was a great atmosphere - it was very creepy and an interesting mystery.  It had a touch of the paranormal that kept me guessing right up to the end (and past that to be honest).  The Winged Ones are fascinating.  Devon and the boys certainly believe in them and Stephen can't quite decide whether he does or not - and neither could I.  It could have been a case of mental instability that latched onto a small town myth, or there could have actually been giant winged creatures that attacked people in the town.

The characters were interesting enough, but I would have appreciated a little more time with them.  It seemed like there were too many boys in the gang to get an opportunity to learn about any one of them.  Stephen was a self proclaimed boring guy and I didn't have the strength of feeling for him that I had hoped.  I was a big fan of his bitter and cruel grandmother - at least she kept things interesting.

The plot of The Cemetery Boys didn't quite go the typical route.  There were some events that were pretty predictable, but one or two plot twists that I didn't see coming.  It was fast paced enough to keep me connected to the plot while still allowing for an air of mystery.     

There was one particularly large issue (though I don't know how much power an author has over this, it may be a publishing decision): I hate prologues that consist of an insert of a scene from later in the book.  In some books, the prologue is an integral part of the plot, in others it acts as some type of teaser for the most exciting part of the book.  In this case, it was the later.  It featured a seriously important scene which gave away a large part of the story.  Reading it ruined the flow for me as I just kept waiting for that scene to happen. If you have this one on the TBR pile, do yourself a favor and skip the prologue. 

Teaching/Parental Notes:

13 and up 
Sex: Kissing
Violence: Fistfighting, Knifeplay, Fire
Inappropriate Language: Shit, Piss, Pussy, Fag, Dick,
Substance Use/Abuse: Underage Drinking, Smoking 

Unanswered Questions: When reading Tarot Cards was Cara only using the major arcana?  If not, how did she manage to NEVER pull a minor card?


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