Rummanah Aasi
 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?

Review: Ace of Spades is an intense thriller that captivated me right from the first page. There are plenty of books out there that feature Black characters with a thriller/horror vibe that automatically get a comparison to Jordan Peele's debut film "Get Out". While the comparison often falls flat, Ace of Spades has legitimate "Get Out" vibes that are chilling, real, strong, and frankly disturbing.
    Senior year is off to a promising start for Niveus Private Academy students Chiamaka Adebayo and Devon Richards, who were both awarded prefect titles. Chiamaka is at the top of the popularity social chain. She comes from an affluent household, earns perfect grades, wears designer clothes, is working her way to getting a perfect boyfriend, and also getting into Yale, her dream school. Devon is a musician who comes from a working, single parent household, and due to being bullied relentlessly by his homophobic classmates at his old school, prefers to keep a low profile. Soon after the announcement is made, Chiamaka's and Devon's lives are turned upside down by anonymous texter, Aces, who divulges information that ruin their reputation and possibly their future. The chase to unmask Ace propels the story forward.
  The story is narrated by Chiamaka and Devon's alternating points of view. I immediately liked Devon's chapters. He is already such a vulnerable character but watching him get by hit invisible arrows was heartbreaking and infuriating. Though I liked Chiamaka as a character who is unapologetically ambitious and confident, her chapters took me a while to get invested in; only because I knew that despite her being of the same class status as the popular kids, she will always be "othered" because of the color of her skin, but once she came to that conclusion herself, her chapters became much more enjoyable. 
  While the setup for Ace of Spades sounds like your typical teen thriller, what elevates this thriller is Àbíké-Íyímídé keen insight on themes such as systemic racism, structural white supremacy, privilege, microaggressions, class, and homophobia. Like the movie "Get Out", there is this creepy, uncertainty that something is not right at Niveus Private Academy and the themes are a constant shadow that follow Chiamaka and Devon around, the part in which both of our main characters discover the reason behind Aces is horrifying. Each of these themes are discussed in length but not in a heavy handed way and like Chiamaka and Devon you begin to see the harm and trauma it causes. My only small problem with the book is its deus ex machina ending that was just too simple and convenient for an otherwise complex thriller. If you are like me and are extremely picky when it comes to mysteries/thrillers, definitely give this one a shot. I had a really hard time putting this book down and its twisty plot kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading it. I am definitely looking forward to whatever Àbíké-Íyímídé works on next.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Words of Caution: There is strong language, reference to sexual situations (occurs off the page), emotional and psychological torture, gaslighting, outing sexual orientation, and underage drinking and drug use. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: Time Will Tell by Barry Lyga, The Other Black Girl by Zakiyah Dalila Harris
1 Response
  1. I thought this one was a cut above most mystery/thrillers as well, especially for YA literature, which doesn't do this genre often.

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