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Ace of Spades

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An incendiary and utterly compelling thriller with a shocking twist that delves deep into the heart of institutionalized racism, from an exceptional new YA voice. 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...

480 pages, Kindle Edition

First published June 1, 2021

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About the author

Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

4 books3,697 followers
Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé is the instant New York Times, International bestselling & Award-winning author of ACE OF SPADES. She is an avid tea drinker, a collector of strange mugs and a recent graduate from a university in the Scottish Highlands where she studied English Literature. When she isn’t spinning dark tales, Faridah can be found examining the deeper meanings in Disney channel original movies. She is represented by Zoë Plant at The Bent Agency.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 14,833 reviews
Profile Image for Alice Oseman.
Author 51 books76.7k followers
December 13, 2020
I could not put this book down! Sex, lies, and fighting back against racism - this book is a wild ride, with an incredibly powerful message. A heart-racing and twisty thriller that grapples so much more than a simple mystery; ACE OF SPADES explores being both queer and Black, and the sinister, destructive nature of white supremacy and racism.
Profile Image for myo ⋆。˚ ❀ *.
824 reviews6,889 followers
June 2, 2021
the bar has been set and it’s extremely high now. this is all i ever wanted, dark academia that deals with racism mixed with a badass female lead. loved this book and i cant wait to see what the author does with her next book!
Profile Image for daph pink ♡ .
948 reviews2,714 followers
October 26, 2021
Ace of spades was interesting, to say the least. I usually don't read synopsis so I was completely unprepared for what was going to come. I am in awe of this book, and it is one of the most phenomenal debuts that I have ever read.

[...]"The world isn’t ideal. This world, our world, the one with houses as crooked as the people in them. Broken people, broken by the way the world works.”[...]

 Two Black teens become the targets of an anonymous texter and they must work together to take them down.

I really appreciate how this book addressed a lot of heavy topics (racism, homophobia, elitism and white supremacy)in a short span of time all while staying within the interesting and dynamic plot line of a thriller. It doesn’t just discuss these themes but digs deeper and questions everything and it was compelling and downright chilling. And being an outsider I enjoyed reading about it, got to learn something new.

I also liked how the story explores how class adds another layer of privilege, and this is exemplified in how Chiamaka, who grew up and lives in a rich neighbourhood and how it insulates her, versus Devon, from a poorer neighbourhood, differently navigate and perceive society and the spaces that they occupy. It explores joy and beauty of being queer and as well as challenges which comes with it.

Chimaka :- Nigerian-Italian, bisexual, popular, confident, unapologetic, logical, goal oriented girl who will take whatever it is to stay at the top of everything. I really enjoyed reading her chapters. Definitely a character which will live with me for a long time. I absolutely adored her. And she is polyglot, I can only Stan.

[...]"Besides, regardless of whether it’s me or someone else, there will always be a kingdom, a throne, and a queen."

Devon :- a black-american, gay, laid back , quiet student interested in music. He is like my precious baby who should be protected at all cost.

[...]"I’ve felt alone a lot in this world, filled with people and faces that don’t look like me."[...]

Apart from main characters all the other characters were perfectly crafted as a piece of puzzls that's fits perfectly in the story and give audience a perfect outcome.

The book is pitched as a thriller, though I figured out most of the book because it was advertised as gossip girls meets "GET OUT" so I figured out most of the things. But still the truth was major and dark enough for my liking.

The author has a flair of creating an atmospheric and intriguing story, she has this certain way with her words which keeps you hooked. And this is her debut novel, I can't wait to read more of her work.

We are gonna take some time and consider the epilogue - seriously that was my fav part of the book. I had tears after reading the epilogue. A perfect ending.

The combination of the haunting story and formidable characters make this book absolutely stunning.

Overall the book was good but why I didn't gave it 5 perfect stars :-

(✖) Pacing :- the book become somewhat slow towards the middle and then the ending was a bit rushed too. Despite me being totally in love with Chimaka I decided to put down the book in middle because it felt like I was forcing myself to read. I don't like it.

(✖) I wish to see more of Devon and Chimaka's friendship because honestly I was rooting for them platonically, but I get it because it wasn't the major theme.

Bottom line :- I’m happy to have gotten a glance into the struggles that different people face growing up in America. Highly recommend.

pre review :-

We all knew this was gonna be a winner 🃏

4.25 stars ⭐/ review to come!

currently reading updates :-

Honestly I can't tell you guys how excited I am to read this beauty.❤️
tbr review :-

Is there a thing like cover porn? If yess then this book is one of the top contenders for it.
Profile Image for Ms. Woc Reader.
532 reviews706 followers
January 22, 2022
Ace of Spades had good ideas but fell flat with the execution. The story follows Devon and Chiamaka as they head into senior year as Niveus Private Academy where they are selected as head boy and girl. Soon after they start receiving threats from a mysterious entity called Aces.

Niveus Private Academy is described as an amalgam of British and American private school traditions and I understand the author wanted to appeal to an American audience but the story should've just been set in the UK. Nothing really felt American to me and she was too vague on the setting because she didn't want to tie it down to any one place. The concept of head girl/boy is a very British concept and the closest American equivalent is Class president but I don't feel like it's held to the same standard. This was compared to Gossip Girl but it never get me those vibes. Outside of name dropping a few designers this felt very generic private school.

There was a lot of telling in this story and I would've liked to see more showing. The book emphasized the problem I have when the plot is racism vs racism being one of many factors. There was a narrow focus on micro and macroaggressions but little levity needed to balance this story out. There's so much more to the Black experience than just suffering at the hands of racists. It felt like the book was all about showing how anti-Black society is but lacked joy. And often felt anti-Black in it's portrayal of the teens. So much happened in this story but none of it had me on the edge of my seat. I wasn't really excited or surprised by the reveal of the identity of Aces. The motivation for Aces also wasn't well plotted.

Devon's stronger and more engaging narrative voice carried this story. I enjoyed him more than Chiamaka but the character was weighed down by having all the issues thrown at him like being poor with a dad in jail, having a single mother with multiple kids she was struggling to raise, having a drug dealing friend in addition to being a young gay boy struggling with his sexuality. It was overkill and got be too much. I don't like when Black writers especially play into stereotypes for shock value like that. Especially when they don't have acknowledge knowledge about a particular experience.

Aces was spilling Devon's deepest secrets, while in Chiamaka's case her issues were more about her struggles to fit in as a biracial girl and wanting to be the school's elite. So Aces drama was more manufactured to break down her perfect image. I don't feel like much thought was given into properly establishing her background. I also feel like there was no reason to make her biracial when some of the stuff written around that identity didn't make sense.

I received an audio book for review from Macmillan Audio. The narration was good and made for a quick and easy read despite the page length. I liked that there were dual narrators and they didn't try to do male/female voices when it came time for dialogue. I listened on 1.75 speed.
Profile Image for emma.
1,869 reviews54.6k followers
April 26, 2023
This review is for: everyone.

I assume that everyone wants to read a book that is like the young adult book equivalent of Get Out meets Gossip Girl, with unlikely friendship and TWO gay relationships and mystery and solving and a tiny hint of dark academia.

So this is to tell everyone that you're right. This is good, and you do want to read it.

Enough said.

Bottom line: Things may not be as they seem IN this book, but they are as they seem about them!



review to come / 4 stars

currently-reading updates

my hold on this book came in and i started reading immediately.
Profile Image for Omo.
91 reviews21 followers
July 27, 2021
This book was a giant trainwreck. It was one of my most anticipated novels of 2021, but now, it is the worst novel I read this year. I do not know whether I am more disgusted or disappointed.

Ace of Spades follows Chiamaka Adebayo and Devon Richards, a biracial student and a Black student respectively, who attend a white private school where they face harassment from an annonymous source who broadcasts their secrets to the entire school.

This book was aggressively pitched as Gossip Girl meets Get Out. Neither of these comps are correct. This book was also pitched as a modern day dark academia, which is also a horribly wrong description of this novel. I will organize this review by explaining the ways in which this book was so terribly not what it was supposed to be.

This is not Gossip Girl

The author herself said that she wrote this to allow Black queer kids to play the role of the spoiled rich kid with spoiled rich kid drama. This did not happen in the book.

Instead, the two main characters were the victims of horrific racism. Chiamaka was not the "Queen Bee" she was advertised to be, for as we see later in the novel, her status was manufactured the whole time. The author could not even let her be Black and rich, because God forbid a Black person can have their own wealth; no, she is rich on her father's side of the family, who is Italian. White.

As for Devon, he was far from the 'Dan Humphrey' that he was advertised to be. Dan Humphrey comes from a middle class family and stands as the only 'normal' kid in a sea of rich kids. But not only is Devon piss poor—something the author is so intent on emphasizing—but most, if not all, of his hardships are because he's Black.

The appeal of Gossip Girl is its carefree cast who walk through the world selfishly and glamorously, getting into trouble and having fun. However, Chiamaka and Devon are bogged down by their race at every corner, and they are never given the chance to come anywhere close to being carefree like Gossip Girl.

This is not Get Out

The second comp, Get Out, is marginally a more accurate description for this book, but Ace of Spades still falls woefully short from being anywhere near as impactful.

The reason why this is, is because, while Get Out highlighted a common theme in society in a creative and new way, Àbíké-Íyímídé merely shoved every iota of Black trauma she could think of into the plot of Ace of Spades. It very much felt like she was simply throwing stuff at a wall and hoping something would stick.

This book was one big bout of trauma p*rn, in that the characters suffered for nothing. The only possible message that this book can give is "racism exists." Which, wow, Àbíké-Íyímídé, you really made a groundbreaking statement with that one.

It makes me wonder who the audience of this book truly is, because I would sooner recommend the KKK handbook than I would recommend Ace of Spades to a young Black reader. Both are equally as likely to make Black readers feel dismal and hopeless. I am so sick of these Black trauma-filled novels that are so obviously catered to white audiences.

Side note: It really is laughable that in her author's note, Àbíké-Íyímídé says that she hopes readers will "pick up" on the racist themes written in her novel, as though it is not overtly thrown in our faces.

This is not dark academia

Say it with me: just because a book is set in a school does not make it dark academia. Niveus Academy was merely a backdrop for the plot. The characters never once engaged in academics, nor did academics ever play a role in the plot.

This is not 'modern day'

You can't just stick Twitter into the last ten pages of the novel and expect me to believe that this book is happening in the world as we know it. Seriously, though—how did social media not play a bigger role in this?? The first thing that most people do when they have an issue is take it to the internet. The fact that this book was so isolated from the rest of the world in the modern age made it very hard to believe.

Speaking of isolated—this town, wherever it is, does not exist. Àbíké-Íyímídé stated she wanted to make Niveus' location vague, somewhere in between America and England (so the ocean???), but the result was a town where nothing seemed to exist except for Niveus Academy. This might have been believable if it was a small town, yet this is a town with a distinct wealthy side and a distinct poor side, which is indicative of a larger city. Oh, and it has a beach!

Clearly, the location of this novel is extremely confused.

Another reason why this is not modern day: there is simply no way a school like Niveus could be as reputable as it is and no one knows a single thing about it. Maybe if it were the 1900s. But schools, especially higher ranked schools, are literally forced to be very transparent about how they conduct themselves—especially in admissions.

As in, diversity. Let's say that Niveus has a very small student population of 500. You're telling me that there are only 2 Black kids in the school, meaning there are 498 white kids, and not a single person noticed? Universities still recognize such a white-washed school? People still apply here? It still gets funding?? This makes ZERO sense. There is simply no high-ranked school that could get away with a 0.4% diversity rating. Niveus is not even a PWI; it's simply white.

Perhaps the author should have simply made Niveus set in a fantasy world, since nothing about it is realistic anyways.


Additional problems I had with this book that I could not fit in earlier:

-The supporting cast very much gave me "Andy's coming!" because they were inanimate until either Devon or Chiamaka came around. All Devon's little brothers did was watch television, all his mother did was cry, and all Chiamaka's dad did was cook. Terrell did not even go to school. Everyone around these two characters were living for these two characters.

-The ending was extremely unsatisfying. Not only because nothing's resolved (see? trauma p*rn) but also because we have no idea what happens with a good chunk of the other characters. I suppose this ties into the Andy's Coming observation; no one exists outside of Chiamaka and Devon.

-Belle's reveal made no sense. This ties in with the social media observation—how did Chiamaka never look her up before? Especially during the time when she hated Belle and wanted to take her down?

-Headmaster Ward was an under-used character. I expected him to have a much bigger role, but in the end, he gave us nothing.

To conclude...

If I could give Ace ofSpades 0 stars, I would. It's heartbreaking that this book has been on the bestsellers' list for so long—is that the only way Black authors can sell? If they write about racism and trauma for trauma-sake? I really thought media was moving past this, but it appears not. Whatever sells, I guess.
Profile Image for Bookishrealm.
2,085 reviews5,069 followers
July 24, 2021
FUCKING PERFECTION! If you haven't read this book yet you're doing a disservice to yourself. If ya'll think that this won't end up on my 2021 top books of the year you're losing your mind!

Ace of Spades is what I look for in thrillers. It's engaging, it's creepy, it screws with your mind, and when the big reveal comes your jaw hits the floor. This book definitely has vibes that can be closely related to Get Out, Gossip Girl, and Pretty Little Liars, but my oh my it's so much more. The story itself initially feels simplistic. It focuses on two students: Devon and Chiamaka as they are nominated to become prefects at the predominately white, elite high school. And I say predominately with an emphasis on the fact that Devon and Chiamaka are the only Black students. Everything is great UNTIL Aces appear. Aces is apparently this anonymous individual who begins to reveal some pretty heavy secrets about both Devon and Chiamaka and that's when the real drama begins.

Ace of Spades is pure brilliance in terms of character development. The internal dialogue of both Devon and Chiamaka helps readers connect with them on a different level. They not only have their personal struggles, but they deal with a lot at school. Being a Black person in a predominately White space is not always easy to navigate and it's clear that both characters struggle with it. I liked Chiamaka, but I fell in love with Devon. His story is one that broke my heart and soul. And knowing everything that he had been through made me want to kick everyone's ass by the time the big reveal occurred. The relationship between Devon and Chiamaka is interesting. I think that as a reader it would have been easy to assume that the two would get along and effectively work together to figure out who was revealing all of the information about their personal lives; however, I liked that the author didn't make it that easy. In the real world, I think it's easy to assume that people of the same racial group, particularly Black people, will instantly get along or have the same thought process in the time of crisis or in regard to certain social issues. This is the farthest thing from the truth and the way that this is illustrated through their relationship is gold. It was a constant reminder that Black people are not a monolith.

The pacing of Ace of Spades is interesting. It's slow and it needed to be slow. It was important that readers see everything unfold layer by layer. I'm typically not a fan of books that have slow pacing, but for the style of this book is was necessary. By the time readers get to the big reveals, the ultimate purpose of the book becomes shocking. What's even more creepy/frightening about this book is that it's not that far removed from things that have happened or things that could happen. Of course, some things are exaggerated for the purpose of the book, but there is a lot truth to this book that is the real live experience for a lot of Black youth. I'm usually the queen of figuring things out, but I didn't see a lot of this book coming. And the added social commentary especially those parts that focus on racism, classicism, white privilege, and more take this book to another level.

Listen, if there is any book that you need to read before the year ends THIS IS THE BOOK YOU NEED TO PICK UP. I'm so excited to see what this author is going to do in the future.
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,483 reviews79k followers
November 1, 2022
"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. Like all great tyrants do. -Aces"

Binge-worthy. Timely. Thought provoking. These are all phrases that come to mind when I look back at this story. I've been salivating over the teasers and early reviews of Ace of Spades, and I'd be lying if I said it wasn't my most anticipated release of 2021. A YA mystery with shades of Gossip Girl and Get Out? Yes, please! I'm pleased to report that this story holds up to the hype, as I found it to be equal parts entertaining and informative.

It's a really tough story to review, because the entire plot is wrapped up in figuring out who exactly Aces is and why they’re targeting our two main characters, Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo. Both of our POVs are Black teenagers that come from vastly different backgrounds. Devon has lived his entire life trying to claw his way out of his neighborhood; his single mom has sacrificed everything to get Devon through Niveus Private Academy so that they can have a better life when he goes off to Juilliard as a music prodigy. Chi has grown up in the lap of luxury, but still faces racial discrimination on a daily basis as a biracial young woman, as her mother is Nigerian and her father is Italian. The complex comparison to Chi and Devon's daily life is profound, and seeing how racism can rear its ugly head in many ways is a theme that needs continual discussion.

Obviously one of the driving factors of this story is the mystery behind who is Aces? Why are they targeting these particular students? And how will this mysterious entity be stopped? To tell you anymore would be rude, so you should definitely pick this one up for yourself, but I will say that this was *almost* a 5 star read for me. My only issue is the fact that we spend a good bit of the book with a slow build up to what exactly is going on, which I loved, but once the big reveal happens, things are glossed over rather quickly and wrapped up without touching on some major questions that I had. I just needed a little more explanation on a few bombs being dropped that weren't addressed again, and there's something that happens at the very end that jarred me a little and made me wish we could go back and get some answers before that happened.

Regardless of my personal wishes, this is a fabulous debut novel by a young woman who put so much of her own experience into this story, and I applaud her for doing so in a way that draws the reader in with entertainment but doesn't shy away from discussing uncomfortable topics. The author's note at the end is a must read, along with the acknowledgements (big shout out to the tea kettle that helped bring us this novel), so please do not skip them!

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my ALC, and to Shelly for sending me her bonus hardcover!
Profile Image for Jesse (JesseTheReader).
468 reviews176k followers
December 30, 2022
This one was gripping from the start. It can be hard to read at times, because of the hardships that the main characters are enduring, but I loved seeing them take control of the narrative and keep pushing forward. It was fast paced and filled with thrills, making it easy to stay invested in the story. A+ all around!
Profile Image for Gavin Hetherington.
673 reviews6,130 followers
September 5, 2021
I was starting to think that I was growing out of young adult books but then Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé went 'no you fucking don't get back here' and I was saved.
Profile Image for theresa.
302 reviews4,373 followers
December 10, 2021
I can quite honestly say that Ace of Spades blew my mind. I went into this book with high expectations after seeing so many people rave about it and somehow it still managed to exceed them. Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé has crafted a truly unputdownable thriller that expertly builds and draws out tension all while exploring institutionalised racism and the power found in fighting back.

I don’t often read thrillers but if they were all as brilliantly written as Ace of Spades I don’t think I could ever put them down. I was gripped from the very first page and constantly in awe of this book’s ability to up the stakes and build tension, without ever feeling ridiculous or unbelievable. In fact, what makes this book so intense is that it’s all too real. Peeling back the layers of insidiousness present in this book invoked physical reactions in me, especially once we reached the truly rotten core.

Each of Aces’ attacks on Chiamaka and Devon left me reeling and sure it couldn’t get worse but get worse it did. I don’t want to go into too much detail with this because I think it’s best to go into this book blind and just let it blow your mind. What I will talk about though is the characters. I really appreciated the dual POV and felt that it was used very effectively to carry the story while also creating two distinct, convincing perspectives. Firstly, Chiamaka, the head girl with everything going for her. I adore popular mean girl characters and find them really fun to read about, especially once they’re given depth and Chiamaka did not disappoint. Her journey with owning her Blackness rather than squashing it down to fit in was a joy to read and a narrative clearly crafted with extreme care. Quiet Devon was really the stand out for me, which is not what I had originally expected. His character development and the exploration of how Blackness intersects with queerness, particularly in the rougher environment he lives in, was really touching and so gracefully written.

Ace of Spades left me unable to form any thoughts beyond “holy shit ?!?!?!” upon finishing and, honestly, that still stands. The exploration into the rotten core of institutionalised racism provides the perfect, insidious backdrop to this high stakes thriller. Ace of Spades is an unforgettable master class in building a palpable tension that relentlessly propels its readers forwards, all while filling them with an ever present dread. This stunning debut is a must read that deserves to become the next big thing. I cannot wait to see what Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé does next – she’s definitely one to watch.

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*eARC received in exchange for an honest review via Netgalley*
December 6, 2021

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Gossip Girl meets Get Out is actually the perfect way of describing ACE OF SPADES. This YA book fulfilled the dark academia itch that I've been suffering ever since I read THE SECRET HISTORY and craved more stories set in exclusive schools built on secrets, treachery, and lies. The two narrators of this book are Chiamaka and Devon. Chiamaka is biracial and super rich, but she still feels like she's never going to be enough unless she pushes her ambitions further. Devon, on the other hand, comes from a poor family and really struggles to fit in at the private school. His biggest talent is music and he hopes, with the help of his understanding teacher, to get into Julliard next year.

Both characters end up facing even more pressure, though, when someone named "Aces" starts putting them both on blast, sending text messages, photos, and videos to the school detailing some of their most intimate, and damning, secrets. Secrets that could destroy their futures and their lives. Even though neither of them have ever really interacted before, both Chiamaka and Devon are forced to come together to figure out who it is at the school that has it in for them--

And why.

I honestly couldn't put this down. It was done so well. Devon and Chiamaka both felt like distinct people. I actually related to Chiamaka a lot because I also pushed myself really hard academically, and I know there are reviewers saying they didn't like her because she was cold and mean, but I actually related to that, too, because it's a social defense you can hide behind: pushing people away and not letting them get to know you because you're afraid of being hurt. Devon is definitely more accessible on an emotional level, which is why I think readers tended to prefer him. And his story is really sad. There were portions of this book that left me feeling kind of misty-eyed.

Less is definitely more when getting into this book and I don't want to spoil anything, but let's just say that not only does the blurb actually rise to the occasion, but so does the story. It's dangerous and dark, filled with real stakes that push the characters to their limits and test their ability to overcome and endure. Once the book gets going, you won't be able to put it down, and the chaotic finish and fantastic ending are going to leave you feeling like you've just withstood an emotional hurricane.

I. Loved. This. Book.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!

5 stars
Profile Image for katie ❀.
120 reviews477 followers
January 28, 2022
Sometimes, you need a soft, fluffy rom-com to cheer you up. And sometimes, you need a dark, twisty thriller to scare the crap out of you. This was one of the latter.

Ace of Spades follows Chiamaka and Devon, the only Black students who attend the prestigious Niveus Private Academy. But after both are nominated as prefects, their paths begin to tangle as an anonymous force known as Aces makes themself present, bent on not only destroying their senior year, but also on ruining any chance at a future.

I’ve read about five mysteries and thrillers this year so far, which, all things considered, is a lot for me. Ace of Spades is by far the best one. It’s one of those books that, when completed, you can only sit in silence and weakly try to process what you just read, your desire for more tugging at your heart.

This is one of the few times I loved the writing and the characters so much—both are sharp, smart, and brilliantly crafted. The writing isn’t lilting prose or elaborate description, but simplistic and compelling, cutting just as deeply. Àbík��-Íyímídé expertly wields dual points of view to maximize suspense, cleverly jumping from one to the next, ending each character with a brutal cliffhanger, something that left me gasping. Chiamaka and Devon lead very different lives, but I was equally invested in both their stories.

How delicately and detailed white supremacy, classism, and institutionalized racism were portrayed was so heartwrenching and nuanced, and I appreciate how the author doesn’t shy away from the suffering injustice brings.

This review doesn’t even come close to doing this book justice, not with the way it explores relevant themes that appealed to me and had me losing my mind a little bit, and certainly not with its haunting social commentary that will linger in my mind for months to come. This is truly a book I won’t forget, and I can’t recommend it enough.
Profile Image for Joanna Chu (The ChuseyReader).
160 reviews218 followers
November 7, 2021
Rating: 2 or 2.5.

Thank you to Medha for buddy reading this with me :).

What I enjoyed:

This is my first time seeing a mystery-thriller that deeply explores the themes of institutional racism and with a great representation of LGBT characters. In an article Àbíké-Íyímídé mentioned:

“I think a lot of these institutions, whether it's university or a high school, they often are prestige because they have a history that is rooted in a kind of subjugation of Black people”

Perhaps I live under a rock but I had no idea that such inequality is so deeply rooted in history of many schools (for example slavery and racial heirachy). I love Àbíké-Íyímídé’s intent to highlight the struggles in which people of color go/went through and raise awareness. Both the protagonist’s experiences and thoughts felt real and I felt empathy for Dev and Chi, especially knowing that the author was drawing from her own experiences as well.

What I didn’t enjoy:
While I loved the message and intent of the book, I didn’t like the story itself - I’m sorry!!

• The plot behind Aces.

• Overall I didn’t like the mystery or thriller component. The first half of the book was boring, the messages from Ace felt like gossip that created soapy drama instead of tension or curiosity. Chi’s memories created some mystery, however there wasn’t enough build up and

• The only reminder I got of Gossip Girl was Aces. There wasn’t enough world building for me as I wasn’t transported to the lives of the glamorous elite.

ChuseyReader Website | Bookstagram
Profile Image for Aiden Thomas.
Author 8 books7,507 followers
February 2, 2021
Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé is an absolute artist of crafting tension and suspense. ACE OF SPADES will leave readers tearing through chapters, desperate to see what happens next. Packed with killer twists that gave me goosebumps, ACES OF SPADES is a phenomenal debut here to knock you off your feet and send your heart racing.
Profile Image for may ➹.
494 reviews2,070 followers
May 2, 2021
4.5 stars

there’s no better dark academia than dark academia with qpoc challenging racist institutions!

(this was excellent and as usual I was terrible at guessing things, rtc)

// buddy read with 😖
Profile Image for ☆Pelumi☆.
265 reviews323 followers
June 28, 2021
ACTUAL RATING: Infinity stars*

People be like "There's no perfect book" and all I'm thinking is, have you met Ace of Spades yet.

"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. Like all great tyrants do. -Aces"

First of all, I just want to say WHATTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT
The bar for all YA books have been raised so high, at this point not even SJM stands a chance. I said what I said.

When I read this, I tried to keep in mind that this is a debut, the author is pretty young and my hopes shouldn't be so high that I'll end up hating it but towards the end of the book, I had to sit down and really ask myself, Is this debut? Because I've never read one that's this insanely intense

Ace of Spades is entertaining, thought provoking, fast paced, adrenaline inducing(my heart beat rate was just sky high), actually thrilling as well as chilling
This book follows our two MCs, Chiamaka and Devon who are the only black students attending Niveus Academy. Even though they have the same skin colour, they couldn't be anymore different.

Chiamaka Adebayo is absolutely badass, cutthroat and wealthy. She is biracial, with her mom being Nigerian and her dad Italian. She has grown up to realise that racial discrimination is something she'll always have to fight no matter how much money she owns. She decides to take her own life into her hands and get the respect she deserves. She makes a lot of sacrifices, some bad, some good. She believes the end justifies the means and because of this all she's able to survive and even be called elite in her school. Until Aces shows up and things go a bit crazy.
As regard to her sexuality, this book was shelved by some as lesbian but its really not. Sapphic? yes, the author described Chiamaka as queer.

Devon on the other hand, is so sweet, vulnerable, a closeted gay and has a poor background. His neighborhood is very dangerous, he's seen bullies, he's been closeted for a while now because he don't wanna disappoint his mom. I loved his arc so much. Th struggles of growing up with a single mom, to have his dad taken away by the system(police), experiences with bullying and even his attempted suicide was all very tear jerking.
I think he's a sweetheart who needs to be protected at all costs. At Niveus, he feels invisible somehow, like its his safe spot. Combined with the music he's able to practice in school, Niveus feels like home away from home. Unlike Chi he isn't popular but he has one friend, Jack who he clings to despite his annoying personality. When he suddenly gets appointed as a prefect, he's so surprised. However, he has no idea that his once normal life is about to take a real dark turn, especially since Aces is on to him now.

The mystery itself revolves round unmasking Aces. I won't talk much on it so as not to give away spoilers but I'll just say that no one saw that ending coming! I had a few guesses and they were all wrong! I couldn't have imagined it in a million years so, Get out meets Gossip girl might as well be the most perfect description for this. Its dark, twisty, sickening but still informative at the same time.
The way it takes on white supremacy and institutionalized racism still baffles me till now. I'm never getting over this book and honestly, I'm not complaining. 10/10!

When you read a thriller you want the plot to be fast paced but not too fast paced that the big reveal at the end becomes underwhelming, Ace of Spades did just that and I'm so here for it!
The plot was fast when it had to be and slow when it had to be. The build up , the suspense, the climax omg it was so good! Faridah is either a writing genius or an alien from another planet because her skills are out of this world!
I love the plot please, when you see something good you have to say it and this was really good.

The characters both main and side were just *chef kisses* très magnifique! They all had their roles and their development was amazing. I think they're are not the strength of this book as the plot and writing was way better than the characterization but still....It was good and slightly better than your average YA book.
When I rate thrillers, I rate in terms of mystery, plot and characters and all these get an A+ in this book!

The writing was great! The author gave us a multiple POV from both Devon and Chiamaka and I think they flowed really well into each other, Starting off where the other stopped and all that.
When Faridah said she took her time on tis, she meant she took her time on this and oh boy, did it pay off!

The LGBTQ+ representation and cultural representation were done really well. I'm Nigerian and the references to Nigerian food, cities and so on gave me a pride boost! I love it and well, its own voices so I'm really proud.
I don't know if the LGBTQ+ rep was own voices but I think Devon's sexuality was handled pretty well but Chi's own was a bit obscure but maybe that's what the author was going for since, she pretty much didn't label her and declared that she's queer.

I think I've found the best read of 2021: an amazing cover, great story, good characters, original plot, unique tropes and still debut?!
Ace of Spades deserves and award and all my money too!

Pre review thoughts

RTC when I get my braincells in line...


I take back all I said about Netgally, those bitches are the best please...

Also, I got a decline on Eldeweiss(b4 I deleted the acct ofc so its good how things turned out ehehe)

Profile Image for kimberly ☆.
237 reviews3,876 followers
May 5, 2021
thank you usborne for providing this ARC for me!

5/5 stars

let me start this off by saying, never in my life has a book ever moved me or affected me the way this one has. i was living in the worst nightmare i’ve ever been in vicariously through these characters. and i think that’s a very special thing to be able to feel, i felt the story in my bones. throughout my entire life i have always gone to predominantly white schools, i vividly remember being the only black girl in my elementary school for years.

i was originally going to make this review a spoiler free review, but i don’t think i can hold it all in. jamie is the epitome me of every black person's fear, somebody you can trust somebody who gets close to you only to use your secrets and your emotions against you in the worst way possible. the fact that he engaged with chiamaka romantically and sexually, filling her head with these false narratives only to stab her in the back and literally tried to kill her is sickening. everything that devon went through from being outed to the constant physical abuse and being backstab by one of the people he considered his best friend was hard to read but so engaging and it drew me in every second. this book had my heart racing, and i cried so many times!

i never expected this book to have it’s constant twist and turns like bella being related to the girl that they hit with the car, and even the car accident being staged, that’s insane. i will say that i did have a little inkling that bella was related to the girl or was the girl! i also felt like the news people were evil, so i was right on that. but i originally thought that jamie was aces from day one and i am glad i got some of it right, but the fact that it was an entire secret society and organization is insane and beyond anything i could’ve ever imagined. and i had a feeling that headmaster ward was in on something that i did not expect it to be aces.

chiamaka is very personal to me, because she is me to fault. i relate with her so much in the sense of being nigerian, and the fact that my middle name is chiamaka and sometimes people address me as that. and constantly trying to fit in with white people but having to keep your circle small because you can’t really trust many people. recently with all the racial tensions i’ve built some walls and instilled in my head the narrative that all people are racist until they prove that they’re not. and i feel like reading the story really almost proved that to me. you can’t trust everyone around you and not everyone wants you to be safe. but back to chiamaka, the elements of her mom braiding her hair, and the nigerian food, and not being ashamed about being nigerian but not wanting to show it to the world either because most people just don’t understand.

overall this book really affected me in ways i didn’t know a book could and i will be reflecting on it for a long time. it was the perfect thriller that hit so close to home. and for that it gets five stars for me.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Peyton Reads.
178 reviews1,785 followers
June 17, 2021
Everything I love in a book wrapped up in one and so many important messages as well!
Profile Image for Elle.
587 reviews1,401 followers
December 4, 2021
Now a Goodreads Choice finalist in Young Adult Fiction!

I just love YA thrillers. Can’t get enough of them! Ace of Spades was no exception. Although it started out similarly to a lot of other books in the genre, by the halfway point it diverged into a completely unique and sinisterly clever story all its own.

Chiamaka Adebayo is Niveus Private Academy’s reigning ‘It Girl’, so it comes as no surprise when she’s named Head Prefect for the fourth year in a row. What does come as a surprise is that Devon Richards, a music student who keeps largely to himself, is awarded one of the Senior Prefect slots alongside her. Despite being on scholarship, Devon has a lot going for him as a student, and as Chiamaka dreams of Yale, he has his sights set on Juliard. Their new student leadership positions only strengthen their chances of success, and it seems like the world is at their fingertips.

But because this is a thriller, it obviously does not all go according to plan. Immediately after receiving their titles, an anonymous source that goes by ‘Aces’ starts spreading rumors and gossip about the pair. Some of it is more harmful than others, but it appears Aces is doing their best to ruin the bright futures that were all but guaranteed to them. It also doesn’t escape notice that the only two students being targeted, Devon and Chiamaka, are the only two Black kids in their school.

I’ve seen this kind of a set-up before, where an anonymous cyber bully gleefully reveals characters’ deepest and darkest secrets to a captive student body, usually via text message. The first half largely sticks to this formula, and I found myself a little underwhelmed initially if I am being honest. But the second half really takes off running, and I could not turn the page fast enough. If you’re worried about this being the same sort of book you’ve read a dozen times, there’s no need. Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé revives a familiar plot line with new twists and perspectives that kept me guessing until the very end.

I’d say the greatest strength of Ace of Spades was how I never felt like I had a solid footing when it came to the characters apart from Chiamaka and Devon. You never know who you can really trust, and I think Àbíké-Íyímídé does an excellent job and exposing the more diabolical aspects of a dark academia setting. Are your friends your friends and your enemies your enemies? Take no chances; trust nobody.

I did think the ending was a little rushed, especially compared to how detailed the 150 pages or so were. I think we needed a little more development as far as the big finale was concerned too. I did like the epilogue, but I still had a lot more questions than we were given answers to. Though, I’d still recommend this wickedly fun thriller to anyone in the market for something fast-paced and entertaining that also contains smart social commentary.

*Thanks BookishFirst and Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan) for my finished copy!

**For more book talk & reviews, follow me on Instagram at @elle_mentbooks!
Profile Image for Monte Price.
673 reviews1,847 followers
September 27, 2021
I'm going to publish a full review closer to the actual release date... but you need to have this book on your list of things to preorder. The game has been changed, the bar has been raised, Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé is coming for the girlies.

It took me far longer to publish my full thoughts, but here they are from a yearish ago when I actually finished the book.

While I was given an arc of this, as always the thoughts to follow are all mine.

I just need you to know that this is hands down required reading for all those looking for a good book. In fact on some levels simply calling this a good book doesn’t really convey just how great my reading experience was and how I didn’t want to start. The story picks up immediately and doesn’t let up until the last sentence of the book, all while slowly ratcheting up the tension. It’s mastery on a level that I could only ever hope to attain.

Devon and Chiamaka are the only Black students at their private school and as their senior year commences they are thrown together as a mysterious force starts to expose things about their lives that they’d definitely like to keep underwraps. What follows was a heartwarming and heartbreaking story of institutional racism, coming out, breakups, and new relationships. The book manages to tackle so much ground. I was a little impressed at how everything still managed to weave together and not feel as though it was lagging behind at any point.

If for some reason this book wasn’t on your radar I’m happy I was able to get you to at least look into it because again, this is required reading. I don’t have a bad thing to say about this book, I enjoyed the wild ride it took me on and I am going to be slightly envious of others who get to experience the twists and turns for the first time.
Profile Image for Maëlys.
296 reviews276 followers
July 2, 2021
☆ 5 / 5 ☆

“The world isn’t ideal. This world, our world, the one with houses as crooked as the people in them. Broken people, broken by the way the world works.”

This book left me stunned and speechless, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up as my favourite debut of 2021.

Chiamaka and Devon are the only two Black students attending Niveus Private Academy but their paths couldn’t be more different. Chiamaka loves the sciences, she’s climbed up to the top of the social ladder, and designer clothes are her best friends. On the other hand, Devon attends the school on a scholarship, his mother has to work three jobs to put food on the table, and he keeps his head down as best he can, finding refuge in the music room.

However, Chiamaka’s and Devon’s lives start getting tangled in each other when they respectively get nominated as Head Prefect (for the third year in a row) and Senior Prefect (to everyone’s surprise) respectively. But after this promising start to the new school year, Aces, an anonymous bully, is out to ruin not only their last year of highschool, but the futures they’ve both dreamt for themselves. While it seems like Aces also exposes a couple other people, it quickly becomes apparent that Chiamaka and Devon are their prime targets.

“I think anyone can be nice, but it’s not about being nice. You can’t escape a history like that and not be affected.”

I’d like to say that things start out a little more trivial but there is truly no levity to anything that comes out about these characters, it is only that things become darker and more and more dangerous with each passing day and revelation. This bullying and targeting unmistakably reflects and takes root in institutionalised racism and how it has shaped society and the future of Black people until this day.

I’m in awe with how seamlessly and unapologetically Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé incorporates so many layers and complexities to her social commentary. It all starts with the contrast between Chi’s and Devon’s financial situation but shows that beyond the money (which Chi’s family has) what comes with generational wealth are influence and power. Their classmates are not only rich but they have direct contacts with people who can set the trajectory of a life.

“What I felt was a desperation to be powerful in a world that doesn’t let girls be. Especially girls like me.”

While the main plot showcases a very peculiar case of racism, it actually highlights how it manifests itself in many ways. From the policing of Black bodies (certain hairstyles being forbidden for example) and white beauty standards (Chi doesn’t “hate” her hair but she knows her classmates’ perspective on it and makes herself fit in that mold) to how it is the basis of the prison system. It is in how quickly society will condemn Black people as guilty and how it lingers in the media's silence and wrapped narratives. One thing I also loved is how social media is used as a platform for information and activism. Of course, it’s far from perfect, but it is sometimes the only place where people can have a voice and platform to tell their stories, for people to come together.

There’s also an emphasis on the complicity of the “nice” white people who don’t want to say anything to their friends or challenge their families, sometimes even participating in extremely violent acts. This goes so far as Chi’s father staying silent when his family is outwardly racist to his own wife and daughter.

“In this home of worn leather sofas, tabletops with cracked edges, mismatched chairs, and exposed pipes, there is so much love. Even if that love is for a version of me that isn’t real.”

Devon’s character particularly touched me as Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé takes the time to show us what it means to be gay and Black for him. While for some of his classmates queerness doesn’t negatively impact their lives because it is intuitively accepted by most (let’s say a white guy who’s into theater), he is seen as an oddity in the eyes of these same people as if Black boys can’t be gay. Living in his neighbourhood as a gay boy also means deep rooted trauma, being beaten up for not being masculine enough, having to hide his relationships. He’s also frightened to come out to his religious mother and lose her love, and they have such a moving scene together about it.

I also really enjoyed how Chi’s sexuality was explored in this and showing that she never truly liked boys and her boyfriends, but that they were only pieces in what she sees as the journey she has to take to achieve success.We see her come to that understanding very seamlessly and I really adored it.

“I have to stop myself from apologizing- because what would I even be sorry for? Existing too loud?”

What impressed me with this book as well is that in the midst of all of this there were some very funny, lighthearted, and heartwarming moments. We see Chi and Devon experience small joys and love. Some of my favourite scenes included their mothers and there was something so special with each of those moments.

This was a stunning debut with what I thought was a perfect ending! It unpacks so much and is so intriguing and well-written, it was truly impossible to put down. I can’t recommend this enough, and I’m excitedly waiting for so many to love this.


Buddy read with Melanie
Profile Image for Mwanamali.
372 reviews291 followers
August 5, 2021
This world isn't ideal.
This world, our world, the one with houses as crooked as the people in them. Broken people, broken by the way the world works. No jobs, no money; sell drugs, get money. That's what this world is, that's how it works.
This book was WILD. I almost stayed up all night to do that but as a burgeoning old woman, I lost the battle to sleep.

The story starts with Devon, a music prodigy and Chiamaka, head girl and queen bitch. The only two black students at Niveus Private Academy. It's their senior year. The year where everything is supposed to come up daisies and get them enrolled into their dream colleges. Devon at Juilliard and Chi at Yale. Unfortunately, someone has it out for them.

In the same vein as Gossip Girl, an anonymous person reveals personal details about Devon and Chi that they'd rather stay hidden. But as the story progresses, Gossip Girl progresses into Uber A levels of malevolence. Trying to get Chi arrested at a candy store, outing Devon when he comes from a neighbourhood that could kill him for being gay, torturing Chi, following Devon. Making them distrust their world. Making them feel alone.

The stakes were high in this story. Eventually it became clear it was less about just messing with Devon and Chi but something more sinister. More insidious that just some sick fuckos out to mess with their rivals.

I can see why the book gets compared to Get Out. The elements of institutionalised racism are undeniable. Going as far as turning into a neoKKK situation that our protagonists find themselves in. But for once, the system didn't beat them down.

There was a lot of heavy subject matter dealt with apart from institutionalised racism. Such as incarceration, death of a parent, police brutality, gay bashing. There's a lot of ugliness, violence in modern day America. The book touches on it in a way suitable for a YA novel. It wasn't as overwhelming as my twitter feed. The book also briefly touches on being a second generation immigrant, and it made me think of how much history has been lost to a specific generation of Africans. In my case, it is because of colonialism. As well as a break down in sharing oral history which Chi's mum did. If those who came before us won't tell us, how else will we know? Unlike white families, we can't trace our history going all the way to when Napoleon got his milk teeth pulled.

The characters and the plot are the best thing about this book. I hated the dual 1st POV and the present tense. I will never understand what mandates present tense in YA contemporary novels. The ending also felt a bit rushed but I could forgive a few hastened conclusions and a few frayed incomplete plot threads for that glorious ending.

Abike-Iyimide wrote this because she wished she'd seen the PLLs and Gossip Girls with people who look like us. I'd go as far as saying, she far surpassed them all. Ace of Spades isn't "Get Out meets Gossip Girl", it's its own fucking story. One that will resonate with generations to come.

Thank you to netgalley for providing me with a copy in exchange for a review.
Profile Image for Melissa (Semi-hiatus Very Behind).
4,650 reviews2,120 followers
May 31, 2021
"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.

I voluntarily reviewed both the audio and print versions of this book. All opinions are my own.

Profile Image for Lauren Lanz.
721 reviews255 followers
January 4, 2022
Ace of Spades made me want to bolt my chair to the ground so I couldn't fall out of it. So much suspense from the get-go! This dark and adrenaline-filled thriller tackles several hard-hitting themes that left me reeling; Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé does a masterful job portraying the struggles of black students trying to succeed in a system that only seems to work against them.

~★~ What is this book about? ~★~

Chiamaka Adebayo and Devon Richards are polar opposites; she’s popular and wealthy, he has one friend and lives in a struggling neighbourhood. When they’re both chosen as prefects during senior year, an anonymous texter named “Aces” begins putting Chiamaka and Devon’s lives on blast, revealing their secrets one by one to the entire academy. Unless they can catch the culprit, their bright future’s remain in the hands of a faceless enemy.

────── {⋆★⋆} ──────

Ace of Spades took my breath away time and time again. Àbíké-Íyímídé wastes no time jumping into the brunt of the mystery, creating a tremendous amount of suspense only a few pages in. The stakes never lessened at any point—my shock continued to heighten at almost every reveal. Knowing Chiamaka’s big secret weighed on me throughout the story, I shared her fear as we got closer to what would probably be aces’ final reveal.

“I can ‘fix’ the kinks in my hair, but not the kinks in this whole system that hates me and Devon and everyone who looks like us”

The messages about racism, classism and homophobia within Ace of Spades were powerful enough to leave me reeling for days after I finished reading. I think what makes this YA thriller so dark and twisted is the fact that a lot of what took place probably isn’t a stretch from the horrible things that did—or still do—happen to people of colour. I loved Chiamaka and Devon as narrators because their situations and struggles put into perspective a lot that I’ve never previously given much thought to. Chiamaka is a girl plentiful of secrets and fake friends (whom she needed to get to the top in school). She’s bisexual and mixed race, with the white side of her family distancing themselves because she’s “too dark”. Devon lives in a poor neighbourhood, dealing drugs to support his mother and constantly hiding his relationships with boys to avoid her disapproval—and that of the gang members on his block, who he knows will hurt him for being gay. Knowing that Aces threatened all of this and more, putting both their personal lives and academic futures on the line, I was completely invested in the outcome of events (and that Chiamaka and Devon would get their happy ending).

“This world isn’t ideal.
This world, our world, the one with houses as crooked as the people in them. Broken people, broken by the way the world works. No jobs, no money; sell drugs, get money. That’s what the world is, that’s how it works.”

I highly recommend reading Ace of Shades. Whether you enjoy thrillers or not, this is book that packs a punch. It’s endlessly entertaining, though emotional and appalling at times too. I’ve already talked three people’s ears off regarding this book; my sister and two close friends have heard it all. So, if you like reading anything, I implore you to consider giving this a try. You won’t regret it.

“I wish he didn’t find comfort in temporary highs. I want to tell him that his path could be something different, but I’d be lying.”
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