I have a thing for stories told against the backdrop of a boarding school, and Ace of Spades just raised the bar — this YA debut is pure pulse-pounding psychological suspense, a social thriller par excellence.
Niveus Academy is a school for the elite — the kids of the rich and, more importantly, the powerful. Chiamaka Adebayo may not be a legacy kid (her parents are loaded, but she’s a first-generation American), still, after four years of hustling, she’s Niveus Academy’s queen bee and has Yale’s med school within reach. Scholarship student Devon (Niveus’ other Black kid, yes, there are but two, and if you’re getting a bad vibe, you’re onto something) does not run in Chi’s circles or pop up on any social radar. Devon goes primarily unnoticed until the mysterious Aces (villain alert) outs him via a text blast. And Aces, whoever they are, aren’t done yet. Nor does Von remain Aces’ only target. From leaking private content to spreading lies, the intensity quickly ramps up in what feels like a targeted campaign… but to what end? You’ll have to read.
Ace of Spades has been comped as Gossip Girl meets Get Out. I’ve watched both and couldn’t agree more. Breaking with genres, Àbíké-Íyímídé marries the teen drama vibes to some very intense suspense. The pace is edge-of-your-seat from start to finish, fueled by the question: Who is Aces, and what is their goal? Main characters Chi and Von are not always likable but always relatable, and their slow-burn path to friendship feels at every point honest and genuine. At its core, Ace of Spades is about racism, and nothing about the strategic racist abuse the main characters experience feels fictional. A fact alone that will leave you feeling deeply unsettled.
If there’s one YA thriller you need to pick up this year, this one’s it.
Book: Ace of Spades
Age Range: 13 – 18
Publication Date: June 10th, 2021
Usborne kindly sent me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion, rating, or the content of my review.