Book Review — Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

“I’m so excited to be publishing ’Ace of Spades’– a love letter to queer Black teenagers who feel powerless and alone finally finding their voices,”

Àbíké-Íyímídé

The tome is described as a high-octane young adult thriller that serves as “a blistering exploration of the barriers that Black students face when they aspire to things that come easily to their white classmates.”

KARU F. DANIELS

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?

-Feiwel & Friends

Rating: 5/5

Please note that although I do not reveal the ending, this review may allude to things that could be considered a spoiler.

Jordan Peele set the bar high with “Get Out” and we are seeing a cultural shift where anything in the horror genre that covers topics of racism is understandably being compared. (This of course is a much-welcomed shift from the history of Black characters in the horror genre. See Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror.) The comparison of this novel to Get Out is well placed, but I would argue that Àbíké-Íyímídé creates something unique as well. Peele opened the gate of taking the history of eugenics and racism in the United States and turned it on its head in Get Out, Àbíké-Íyímídé does the same by using an experience that many Black people and other people of color have experienced in school and added a thriller/horror element to it. There is a particular scene in the novel that brings up similar feelings of dread and then relief that we feel at one of the scenes at the end of Get Out.

Horror Noire (2019) poster.jpg

Those that have had the experience of being “the only or one of the only” Black people in their school or classroom will understand the feeling of isolation, dread, and otherness that this can bring. This impacts our mental health and can even impact our performance in school. For anyone who grew up learning about the crimes committed against Black bodies from your family; some that seem to sound like conspiracy theories until you find out they are true (okay some are conspiracies, but you can’t fault them), and reading about Henrietta Lacks, the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, and everything described in “Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty” by Dorothy Roberts will be able to figure out or at least have an inkling of what is going on in this book. For me, as soon as I saw the Get Out reference, who was being targeted, and the first few instances of the “attacks” I immediately figured it out. This does not make the book any less thrilling or engaging.

At the heart of this, you have two teens trying to not only figure out who they are but also trying to make something of themselves. It’s all too relatable and I would have been invested in anything with characters like Chiamaka and Devon to be quite honest! They are complex and you can’t help but admire them. Adding the horror of the anonymous Aces, the twists and turns, the dread of not knowing who to trust— makes the book all the more suspenseful, amazing, and truly a piece of work that I will be recommending for years to come.

Finally, I would be remiss not to mention, that I, like the author, went through a period of time where I was obsessed with Gossip Girl. The glitz, glamor, and drama were unlike anything I personally experienced and I’m grateful that on top of the horror genre we also get a little bit of the GG, XOXO-ness thrown in.

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to know!

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