19 October, 2021

[Review] Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Cover image from the TheStoryGraph Site.

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Release Date: 1 June, 2021
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends, a division of Macmillan Publishing
Genre: Young Adult Fiction/LGBTQIA+/Contemporary/Thriller
ISBN: 9781250800817
Edition: Hardback and Audiobook (also available in Paperback and eBook)
Review Written: 16 September, 2021
Racism, Homophobia, Racial slurs, Bullying, Hate crime, Outing, Stalking, Car accident, Gaslighting, Toxic friendship, Violence, Emotional abuse, Toxic relationship, Death, Death of parent, Suicidal thoughts, Panic attacks/disorders, Physical abuse, Murder, Blood, Suicide attempt, Fire/Fire injury, Sexual harassment, Drug use, Drug abuse, Gun violence, Sexism, Police brutality, Cursing, Sexual assault, Mental illness, Misogyny, Xenophobia, Grief, Biphobia, Gore, Suicide, Forced institutionalization, Alcoholism, Slavery, Torture, Alcohol, Injury/injury detail, Child death, Genocide, Rape, Sexual violence, Colonisation, Addiction, Confinement, Self harm, Sexual content, Vomit, Medical trauma, Lesbophobia, Abandonment, Body shaming, Domestic abuse, Eating disorder, Fatphobia, Infidelity, Medical content, Mass/school shootings, Religious bigotry
A compelling, incendiary, and unputdownable thriller with a shocking twist, Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé delves deep into the heart of institutionalized racism with this compulsive debut.

Hello, Niveus High. It's me. Who am I? That's not important. All you need to know is...I'm here to divide and conquer. - Aces

Welcome to Niveus Private Academy, where money paves the hallways, and the students are never less than perfect. Until now. Because anonymous texter, Aces, is bringing two students' dark secrets to light.

Talented musician Devon buries himself in rehearsals, but he can't escape the spotlight when his private photos go public.

Head girl Chiamaka isn't afraid to get what she wants, but soon everyone will know the price she has paid for power.

Someone is out to get them both. Someone who holds all the aces. And they're planning much more than a high-school game...

See more by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé on her website.This book was intense and an eye opener because I could definitely see this happening within the US despite it being 2021. This story is told from 2 viewpoints: Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo, the only two Black students at the private Niveus High School.

It's their senior year, and Chiamaka has been named Head Prefect and Devon has been named a Prefect. And while things were looking up, they quickly spiral out of control as a mysterious Aces starts sending out mass text messages to everyone in the school about their secrets. And nothing is safe.

This book gave me chills. I started out with the audiobook, which was very nicely done with a dual narrator set up for Chiamaka and Devon. Though I initially grew annoyed with Chiamaka's chapters (with her mean girl vibes), that swiftly changed as the secret of the supposed hit and run came out and the rumors started with Aces. Aces focuses on both of their secrets, outing Devon to the entire school, setting both of them up to look like they're trying to sabotage the other, and a hell of a lot of gaslighting.

Perhaps the part that made me the angriest was Mr. Taylor's betrayal to Devon. Because he had been a constant "I'll help however I can" only to reveal that he's been screwing over Devon by not having made the arrangements for Devon to work on his composition piece for Julliard. I also loathed every adult in this book (besides Devon's mother) for their inattentiveness or their participation within the Aces Club in order to perform the social eugenics.

I'll also admit I was very irritated with Belle's very obvious wrongness when she wouldn't let Chiamaka see the pictures of her family. Like that is super suspicious that you seem to clear off every personal effect when your friend/girlfriend comes over and you won't let her see the one picture you forgot to hide? Yeah, no that's sus as hell. My heart broke for Chiamaka when it turned out that the hit and run girl was Belle's older sister, Marla, and that she had been traumatized over a fake hit and run.

Despite all the discomfort this book gave me, I highly recommend it to be read. Use it as a discussion point in classrooms to bring up the Sundown Towns that still exist in America. Use it to discuss racism in the educational system (that's extremely broken anyways, which is a whole different rant), and use it to highly that we still have a lot of work to do to rid the world of people like the people of Niveus.

A+ to Ms. Àbíké-Íyímídé, I look forward to reading whatever she comes out with next.

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