Ace of Spades / Faridah Abike-Iyimide / Book Review

Ace of Spades

Blurb

Devon Richards might be surprised to be named a senior prefect, but Chiamaka Adebayo has been working toward this all along. As the two Black kids in their class, they've both had to put in the work to keep their heads up at the elite Niveus Academy, and that work seems to be paying off, even for a scholarship kid like Devon. Chiamaka might be skeptical about Devon, but she knows she was meant to be head prefect--and in the running for valedictorian--after all of her hard work. But shortly after the prefect appointments are made, everything starts to go wrong. An anonymous source called Aces sends out a text, a very incriminating text, and suddenly, both Devon and Chiamaka find themselves at the center of school speculation. As popular as she is, Chiamaka is not afraid of some gossip, but being in the limelight is new for Devon. And as the texts continue, the messages grow more and more incriminating, turning their plans and all that they've worked for upside down. What seemed like a cruel prank has turned into a wicked game, and everything is at stake if Devon and Chiamaka can't stop Aces before it's too late. 
Pros

  • Classic Blackmail: Anyone fond of the conniving, revolving "bad guys" of ABC's Pretty Little Liars or The CW's Gossip Girl will feel at home sinking into this book. This book is classic in a good way, centered around a high school villain--or villains--exposing scandalous secrets as a power play--or as a way to create utmost chaos. It is good, old-fashioned thriller fun with a few new twists along the way. 
  • Real Repercussions: What starts as gossip-worthy tidbits from a gossip-mongering scoundrel, however, quickly evolves into something much sinister. The victims of this text-message bullying have, it turns out, legitimate skeletons in their closets--skeletons that could come back to haunt them. Real repercussions, not just high-school-level drama, hang in the balance, and this adds a new element of chilling fear to the tale. 
  • So Many Suspects: Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé does a great job of making everyone and anyone involved in the plot a suspect. Usually, there are one or two primary suspects, the most suspicious of all, with other suspicious figures thrown in to temporarily distract. In a bad thriller, that makes the conclusion woefully obvious, but here, Àbíké-Íyímídé makes everyone the obvious suspect--and therefore no one. The plot really keeps a reader on their toes. 

Cons

  • Scheming Girls: I love some good scheming. I do. It is often a pro in my reviews, but right off the bat in this book, there was some very mean-girls-type high school drama going on. And that's not the type of scheming I like. I find it sad to see this stereotype played into so often--that the popular girls are so often at each other's throats to "stay on top" or whatever else one might call it. It just perpetuates the stereotype that women have to put each other down to be successful--and that doesn't have to be true!
  • Pacing Issues: I've found that a lot of thrillers this year have had pacing issues, at least in my estimation, and this book actually does a really good job of balancing the pace, all things considered. Pacing is like Goldilocks: it can be too slow, too fast, or (ideally) just right, and this book often falls into that "just right" category. It does vacillate some, though, with sections being a touch too slow or a bit too rushed for comfort. It's well-done; don't get me wrong. The plotting just wasn't perfectly executed at the end of the day. 
  • Disclaimer: This is a legitimate disclaimer as opposed to another con. But it falls under the "con" category, because if one isn't prepared, I could see this being a major disappointment--or a major misreading of the text. While there is significant LGBTQ+ representation in this book, asexuality isn't it. With the LGBTQ+ community on the mind, one might think that the title refers to asexuality--specifically, to "aces." And, with that in mind, one might get angry that "Aces" here is, in fact, the antagonist. The title is purely a reference to cards--to the fact that the ace of spades is often the best of the trump cards. It is a cards reference, not a reference to (or a way of belittling) asexual individuals. It's about cards. 

Rating

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
8/10

Fans of the cunning rumors of Cecily von Zeigesar's Gossip Girl books will appreciate this plot with some added color. Those who loved the narrative voice of Ben Philippe's Charming as a Verb should sink into the dual narratives of this new thriller.  

Details

Publisher: Usborne
Date: June 10, 2021
Series: N/A
Buy It HERE

Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.

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