Book Review: Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Ace of Spades

Author: Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Publication Date: 01 June 2021

Genre: YA – Contemporary Thriller

Pages: 432

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (Fierce Reads)

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.

Holy shit, what an incredible book. I already know my review isn’t going to do this book justice, but here we go.

Triggers: racism, classism, homophobia, bullying, targeted hate crimes, death of a parent, car accident, stalking

This has been one of my most anticipated reads since the book deal was first announced, and even still, I was so nervous to read it since I didn’t want to end up being disappointed if the book didn’t live up to the hype that I created in my head. Spoiler alert, this book was INCREDIBLE and deserves all the praise.

Ace of Spades is told through dual narration that alternates between Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo. It’s senior year for Devon and Chiamaka, and both of them have perfect grades and have been selected as class prefects…both of which make them even more competitive for prestigious universities.

It’s also no secret that Devon and Chiamaka are the only two Black students at Niveus Academy. What should be smooth sailing for their senior year turns into an absolute nightmare since both Devon and Chiamaka are on the receiving end of virtual attacks by the anonymous Aces. The two of them must work together to solve this mystery before it’s not just their secrets that are at stake.

Let’s talk characters. Devon Richards is a gay, Black American boy who mainly keeps to himself outside of his one friend Jack. Instead of connecting with his classmates, Devon would rather focus on honing his music composition in order to get into Juilliard. Devon is an absolute cinnamon roll that needs to be protected at all costs.

Chiamaka Adebayo is a queer, biracial (Nigerian mother and Italian father) girl who is literally the queen B of Niveus and has her eyes set on Yale. Chiamaka is known for making the rules and her minions bowing down, so when the tables turn against her, Chiamaka has to dig into her old personality that she tried so hard to forget. While I wasn’t such a fan of Chiamaka at first, you better believe that I will go to bat for her any day of the week.

I’m not going to go into plot details because this is one of those books that you truly need to experience first hand. What I will say is that Àbíké-Íyímídé provides an unflinching examination of racism, classicism, prejudice, bullying, and queerness all within the context of a thriller setting.

I’ve always been drawn to dark academia stories, but I’ve always noticed that no one really wants to address the elephant in the room, which is the inherent racism and bias within the academic system. Àbíké-Íyímídé ensures that no one forgets that message in this book.

One last note is that to say this book is atmospheric is an absolute understatement especially in the second half of the book. As I progressed through the story, there was a growing sense of unease that resulted in a claustrophobic experience that led me to question everyone and everything that I was reading.

This is what I want more of when it comes to dark academia, but it’s not just secret societies with rich white people. There are very real consequences for BIPOC.

Thank you to Fierce Reads for providing a finished copy for review. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

Get your copy of Ace of Spades here!

Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé, 22, is a writer from South London who has dreamt of writing books about Black kids saving (or destroying) the world all her life. Her debut novel ACE OF SPADES is an unputdownable thriller that delves deep into the heart of institutionalized racism. Billed as ‘Get Out meets Gossip Girl with a shocking twist’, gal-dem has called it ‘one of 2021’s biggest books’.

Àbíké-Íyímídé describes the novel as “a love letter to queer Black teenagers who feel powerless and alone finally finding their voices. I hope readers see that Black people belong in stories like Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars, and that above everything else we deserve happy endings.”

The novel was acquired by Usborne Publishing in 2018 and then pre-empted by Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group US for a seven figure deal in early 2020. ACE OF SPADES will publish simultaneously in the UK and US in June 2021.  

Àbíké-Íyímídé established and runs a mentorship scheme for unagented writers of colour, helping them on their journey to get published. She has also written for NME, The Bookseller, Readers Digest and gal-dem, and currently studies English Literature at a university in the Scottish Highlands.

Author Social Media

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