Cover Image: Ace of Spades

Ace of Spades

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Member Reviews

Originally posted on Forever Young Adult on 1/4/22:

Cover Story: Montell Jordan

I love the detail on the faces, the plaid, the playing card design. All of it!

The Deal:

It’s senior year! Chiamaka is going to solidify her iron-fisted rule over Niveus Private Academy as she is (of course) granted the role of senior prefect. Devon has literally zero idea why he was chosen as prefect, being that he’d come last in any kind of Niveus popularity contest, but, hey, anything to give him an edge on his Julliard application. Both have their personal reasons for being at this mostly-white, uptight private school that costs way too much, but at the top of both of their lists: getting into a great college.

Except things are starting to happen that could threaten everything they’ve been working towards. Someone is sending anonymous texts to the entire school revealing private information about Chiamaka and Devon’s personal lives, and with every *ding!* they are seeing their perfectly constructed lives fall apart. Chiamaka persuades Devon to team up in order to find out who is trying to ruin their lives before something is revealed that is too scandalous to recover from.
BFF Charm: Eventually, Let Me Love You

BFF Charm with a sweatband on
Chiamaka is a LOT when the book starts. She’s crafted herself an Ice Queen personality and revels in the fact that she has minions who quiver in fear when they get her coffee order wrong. Like…super uncool, Chi. But as we settle inside her head, see her at home, and watch as her social image is torn to shreds, we start to peel back the layers and see the real Chiamaka. That girl is a different kind of hot mess—a bundle of anxiety and fears—but she’s real and honest. I think once Chiamaka gets past high school—if she survives it—then she’ll be a pretty cool chick.

BFF charm with teary eyes hugging a heart
Devon is a soft-hearted soul who’s had to craft armor around himself to survive his tough neighborhood and the idiocy of high school (especially private school). He lives in constant fear that when he finally reveals to his mother that he’s gay she’ll disown him and spend the rest of her Sundays praying for his eternal soul. So many people in his life have disappointed him that I just wanted to give him an (honest, non-judgmental) shoulder to lean on.  

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

Chiamaka’s BFF is the golden boy of the school, the dude that knows his expensive smile and daddy’s influence can get him basically anything he wants. Chi’s decided that they’re going to take it to the next level in senior year and make it “official” instead of just being secret sex sessions.  

Devin, meanwhile, is in love with a childhood friend turned big-time drug dealer, but, obviously, it’s complicated.

They both get new love interests throughout the course of the novel, plus they share a mutual ex, so, in the words of Willy S., what a tangled web we weave! But it’s hard to really care about the kissing when they’re being stalked and stuff! That’s stressful shizz, y’all!

Talky Talk: Dark Academia

So is dark academia the new vampire book of 2021? It feels like its having a moment. Also having a moment: debut author, Àbíké-Íyímídé, had an ambitious task ahead of her with how many topics she jammed into this novel. It’s depressing and dark, full of social commentary about racism and white privilege. I guessed a few of the mysteries, but ultimately it didn’t go where I thought it would; in fact, it got banana-pants crazier than I expected.

The ending almost veered into too fantastically diabolical for how serious/straight it was being played for most of the novel, but, overall, I think the author managed to make it work. (I enjoyed the epilogue; I needed that after what we went through together.) I want to do a deeper discussion, but this is one of those books where it’s best if you don’t know too much beforehand.
Bonus Factor: Social Commentary

Screenshot from Dear White People, with a Black student surrounded by white students in a classroom
Chiamaka comes from a privileged, wealthy background while Devon’s mother struggles to support three children with two jobs. But neither are immune to the gaslighting and racism they experience from their contemporaries and teachers at Niveus.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Racism

cropped view of woman holding carton placard with stop racism sign on red background
Nothing like watching people so scared to share just a little tiny bit of their long-held power that they throw a tantrum strong enough to ruin countless lives. JUST NOTHING LIKE IT, WTF.

Relationship Status: You Can Stand Under My Umbrella

Do you need an ally to fight the white supremacists or go breaking into locked buildings? I, uh, don’t pick locks, but I can stand lookout for you, Book. Just tell me what you need.
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What started as a Gossip Girl knock off takes a turn about a third of the way into Get Out territory. Once the plot brings the two main characters together, it quickly takes off. There are a couple of moments that require a huge suspension of disbelief, but overall this is a fun romp with a social message that has a good flash forward at the end that is incredibly satsifying.
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This was such a haunting book that kept you on the edge of your seat for the majority of the book. It's marketed as Get Out meets Gossip Girl and this is such a perfect comparison. While there were some typical high school drama that you see in YA books, which I didn't love, overall this was a very strong debut novel!
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Wanted to like it more. Started off kind of slow for me. The cadence felt kind of off- like smaller reveals were propped up to feel big and came kind of late and bigger reveals could have had more drama/been revealed slowly and later. 

I appreciated the dialogue around the destruction, pain, and  trauma of white supremacy/racism, but also felt that because of how close some of those sections are together and because of the narrative of this particular story, it felt a bit out of place. I'm not sure how believable it is that these Black students, who would have felt the pain of systemic racism long before the rumors and terrible things started happening at school, would feel the need to explain to each other the problems with the system. Even the narration bits - I know teens today are more politically aware than they were before, but some of the writing felt like the characters were lecturing themselves.

I was confused by a white character not knowing what cornrows are. It makes for a funny scene, but am I wrong in thinking that because they were an oft-appropriated style in the 2000's that most white people would be familiar?  That even if you had only ever seen them on Black people - you'd still know what they are? I'm not sure. I don't think I know any one who doesn't know what cornrows are, but I'm also not a white high schooler.

Overall, it wasn't a bad book. But it's not one I'm likely to reread and revisit often..
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Ace of Spades was one of my favorite read last year. It's a hard read, but afer you finish and discover what was happening, you feel good. I recommend this.
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If you liked the movie Get Out then you’ll love this book. Pulse pounding and taut with tension, it’s nearly impossible to put down. 

This story takes place at the prestigious Nivea’s academy and from day one of school, after the new headmaster is introduced, Chiamaka and Devon can both tell that something is different heading into their senior year. 

This book is horrifying, tense, and will keep you on your toes until the end. The writing is superb and I really enjoyed getting to know both Chiamaka and Devon as they reluctantly formed an alliance.
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Thank you to Fierce Reads & NetGalley for sending me this eARC. This was a fast-paced thriller that reminded me of Gossip Girl/Pretty Little Liars and the movie Get Out. In addition to being a fun ride, it also provides powerful social commentary on race. The reveals towards the end of the book were fantastic and shocked me!
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I will be recommending this book for purchase as an addition to our school library.  Thank you for the opportunity to read.
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This book is full of racism, privilege, and queerness with a glass of thrill. Being the only two Black students in their school, it's hard to believe that they wouldn't be targets but this is for very different reasons. It's like Get Out meets Ghostwriter. You definitely get into trying to figure out who's out to get them and why. This you won't want to put down.
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I was so excited to read this book, but the fact that it is so alarmingly similar to so many other, popular YA books is a complete and total turn off. The whole concept of a photo leaking and a game being afoot is so overused and exhausting.
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This book was a fun ride but somewhat disappointed me. The reason the characters were targeted seemed quite obvious, so I wasn't sure why there was all the build up. Other than that I really enjoyed the twists and turns and this book definitely got my heart pumping!
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I bought this for the library and kids are loving it. All I have to say is "Gossip Girl" like and they are all over it! This will be popular for some time!
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I liked this book but I didn't love it. I wish the author would have made the big reveal earlier so we could have seen everything more in depth. It was a very slow build and it could have been faster. I still recommend people read this book!
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Pitched as Get Out meets Gossip Girl, Ace of Spades was everything it was promised and more! Full of suspense, keeping me emotionally and physically on the edge of my seat. 

For both of our protagonists, there was such a contrast in how they lived their lives, yet both of them shared a sense of double consciousness in totally different ways. The tension alone in getting them to work together was enough to have me yelling at both of them, but what really hooked me was all the secrets of this wild school they attend. Of course, like any good mystery, there are hints: sure, a bunch of the people are definitely racist, and when you think about it the ending isn't all that surprising, but it's one hell of a ride to get there. The hints get you there, but by the end of it all, it's just skin-crawling enough to believe. 

Along with this deep dive into privatized institutions in America and all that is our education system, there are very real connections to the world and it gives off the slightest discomfort, knowing that I almost wouldn't blink twice if I was reading a newspaper article instead of a fictional novel. Overall, Ace of Spades was definitely a book that widened my range of reading material, and will forever stick in the darkest edges of my mind.
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The description of this book being Gossip
Girl meets Get Out was spot on. I loved every minute of this story and would love to listen to it on audio as I’m sure it would be amazing with the dual narrators. Chiamaka and Devon are from different social strata at their private, wealthy high school, Niveus. Their senior year starts out brighter than ever until “Aces” starts sending out damaging and explicit text messages about them to the entire student body. As more and more secrets are revealed by Aces it becomes harder for Chiamaka and Devon to ignore and they become an unlikely duo working together to find out who is at the bottom of these texts. What they discover speaks to so much more than high school drama. A story where you don’t know who to trust, I was literally on the edge of my seat while reading and couldn’t stop thinking about it while I wasn’t.
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Thanks to Netgalley and Macmillan Children’s publishing Group for an advanced copy of Ace of Spades in exchange for my review. 
Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé focuses on two students attending Niveus Private Academy; a rigorous school where graduates are pretty much guaranteed entrance to an Ivy League school. Devon and Chiamaka seemingly have nothing in common, but before long, they are the only ones each other can trust. 
Ace of Spades is fast paced throughout making it a fun read. I did not particularly find the story as enthralling as others, but it was enjoyable overall.
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Holy. Freaking. Heck. 

What a book. 

I’ve read a lot of books this year (and reviewed very few). This is up near the top. It’s part Gossip Girl, part Get Out. And those influences are apparent in the first couple of pages of the book - they’re both quoted off the rip. And they’re both woven into the story’s plot, including a mention of Blair Waldorf. 

I don’t know how to classify a book like this into a certain genre. It’s a thriller and teen drama, with a heavy focus on queerdom and racial inequities. It’s psychological and truly horrifying. And it’s maybe one of the best books I’ve ever read. I need it as a series ASAP. Snap, snap, HBO. 

The characters are well-developed and flawed, while also being vulnerable enough to really care for and root for them. I would’ve liked to get to know Chiamaka’s and Devon’s families better, especially Devon’s brothers. I felt like they were mentioned in the story but not engrained into it’s fabric. I’d also really have liked more fat representation. I think maybe one person was mentioned as having been chubby, but it was fully negative. So that lack of fat rep and negative fat mention is where the perfection of Gossip Girl was weaved into this story’s pages. 

I also feel like a few of the main supporting characters that were more vocal and visible early in the book kind of just dropped off the page to never re-emerge. Scotty was specifically one of those characters that I needed to be brought back so I could form a more solid opinion about him. I can make assumptions but he just disappeared, so I feel a little in the dark about his role. 

I thought I knew what to expect, and there were parts I definitely felt more inclined to know than the characters, sure, but I definitely didn’t expect how the story progressed and eventually ended. 

I have so many feelings about Ace of Spades and not nearly enough vocabulary to be able to express those feelings. It’s such an incredible story with a vivid setting and charismatic characters. It’s certainly a story about race and class, and those things are critical to the story, but it also felt like the type of story that could’ve been successful years ago with society’s normalized ideals. 

Ace of Spades should receive all the rave reviews, all the accolades, and as much readership as possible.
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It's very, very good. I think it's a really good examination of race and class and a system set up to keep people down. To me, it could have used a little editing, as I thought there were some plot points that didn't get enough time to fully appreciate, and a romance that I wasn't rooting for in the slightest, but a super solid debut.
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I enjoyed this book! I didn’t really know what to think of this book when I decided to pick it up. It is described as a YA thriller so I thought it would be a good bet for me. I found this book to be both thrilling and thought-provoking. This was quite an impressive debut novel!

Chiamaka and Devon are planning on having a great senior year. Chiamaka rules the school and knows that she is well on her way to Yale next year then med school. Devon is busy working on his music with dreams of making it into Julliard. Things look great until Aces strike. Chiamaka and Devon are not in the same circle and don’t seem to have too much in common but they are both clearly being targeted by Aces. Someone who is calling themselves Aces is sending text messages to everyone at the school which reveals Devon’s and Chiamaka’s deepest and darkest secrets.

I was not only curious about who Aces might be and what their motivation was but also couldn’t help but wonder what might be revealed next about Chiamaka and Devon. As pieces of the puzzle started to come together, I was even more confused until everything clicked and then I was angry on their behalf. Devon and Chiamaka proved to be very resilient characters and I thought that they should a lot of growth during this story.

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book to others. This is one of those books that is best to go in as blindly as possible. I am so glad that I decided to pick it up and hope to read more of this author’s work in the future.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Feiwel & Friends via NetGalley.
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"Growing up, I realized quite quickly that people hate being called racist more than they hate racism itself."

Wow, what a book! The description of Gossip Girl meets Get Out is absolutely correct. I was glued to the page as I wanted to find out the identity of "Aces" and why Chiamaka and Devon are being targeted.

When everything is wrapped up in the end this is a stunning work of creativity and a forthright light shining on today's society. It's an exciting, fast-paced book with examination of perception, prejudice, bullying, racism, and LGBTQ+ issues woven through a mystery thriller.

The one thing I wished was that the pacing was a little different. I felt like the ending wrapped things up much too quickly and I wanted to know more about how all of that took place. It's just a small thing though, and I think this is an important, well-written book that readers of all ages will like even though this is a YA book.

I listened to some of this as an audio book and read a print copy for the rest. The two narrators for Devon and Chiamaka do a fantastic job giving those characters realistic voices in the narrative. I thought that some parts it was actually easier to listen because then I knew who was narrating. When I was reading the print copy occasionally I would forget whose perspective I was in and then had to backtrack to find out.

Highly recommended.
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