Ace of Spades
by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
ebook, 432 pages
Published June 1st 2021 by Feiwel Friends
Gossip Girl meets Get Out in Ace of Spades, a YA contemporary thriller by debut author Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé about two students, Devon & Chiamaka, and their struggles against an anonymous bully.
When two Niveus Private Academy students, Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo, are selected to be part of the elite school’s senior class prefects, it looks like their year is off to an amazing start. After all, not only does it look great on college applications, but it officially puts each of them in the running for valedictorian, too.
Shortly after the announcement is made, though, someone who goes by Aces begins using anonymous text messages to reveal secrets about the two of them that turn their lives upside down and threaten every aspect of their carefully planned futures.
As Aces shows no sign of stopping, what seemed like a sick prank quickly turns into a dangerous game, with all the cards stacked against them. Can Devon and Chiamaka stop Aces before things become incredibly deadly?
With heart-pounding suspense and relevant social commentary comes a high-octane thriller from debut author Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé.
Trigger warning: homophobia, forced outing, racism, attempted suicide, car accident, bullying, death of a parent
I almost didn’t read this book since it was around 400 pages and I was looking for something quick, but Scribd convinces me by giving the read time as approximately 4 hours. And it was true, I read this in one sitting since it was so fast paced and intriguing. It started normally enough, with first day of school and so on but when the blackmail starts, that’s when the unease grows. The comparison with Get Out spoils us on the culprit, but I was still glued to the pages and horrifyingly watching the story unfolds. It was terrifying and unsettling, but it gives a satisfying ending.
Both Devon and Chiamaka are amazing protagonists and their different background/characters provides a great contrast. Chiamaka is mixed and born into wealth; she’s popular and smart, basically have all the makings of an Ivy League student. Meanwhile, Devon is more quiet and reserved, he just wants to do well at school to get into university and help her mom at home. Their different backgrounds means they did not interact at all at school prior to the blackmail, but it’s also interesting to see how they react differently to the blackmail. Devon is in a more vulnerable position since he was there on a scholarship and could lose his relationship with his mother so it affected him immediately while Chiamaka still has her armors for a while. As with many other readers, I feel like Chiamaka shines stronger but that doesn’t mean Devon is a follower. When they start to work together, it became clear that Devon exposure to the real world hardships serves as a brake for Chiamaka’s naive optimism and when things doesn’t go their way, Devon has a quiet strength that anchors Chiamaka.
Aside from Devon and Chiamaka, the other characters in this book were not as fleshed out. Both Devon and Chiamaka’s parents are kind and supportive, in a way that they will do anything to make their children happy and I love reading their home life. The other characters were obviously horrible and disgusting, with the worse being Jack. I am really curious on how he deals with the fallout, since not only he rely on Devon and his Ma, he also works for Andre and yet he still dares to be part of the Aces.
The Aces itself was really scary, in a way that they not only expose Devon and Chiamaka’s secret, but also seemed to relish on their humiliation. They expose one secret at a time, oh so slowly, as if enjoying their discomfort, fear, and paranoia. And they really did; even though we all know who are the person behind the Aces, the last stretch of the book was so scary as we got into conversations with some people behind the Aces. Their hatred and ideas are so disgusting and terrifying in a way that all of them truly believed in those ideas. Aside from the main plot, there were some side plots about Devon’s fear of coming out to his mom and the truth about his dad as well as Chiamaka’s relationship with her white grandparents. While these plots don’t directly linked to the Aces, it gives an insight on the characters outside of the current timeline as well as racism and homophobia outside of the school setting.
Ace of Spades is one of the most anticipated and hyped books of the year and it truly deserves the praises! Despite having more than 400 pages, it was a non-stop mystery that keeps thicken the plot until the very end. It discussed race, power, and privilege in the most realistic setting and terrifying situation and it did not pull the punches. With strong characters and important topics on race and power being discussed, Ace of Spades is definitely one of the must reads!