Cover Image: Ace of Spades

Ace of Spades

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Member Reviews

Dark Academia as a subgenre is filled with stories about rich white people, rich-white-people-ing their way through life in academic settings. As much as I enjoy reading them,  I constantly find myself wishing someone would break down the predominantly white mold of the usual dark academia storylines and give us something outside that framework and point of view.

Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé  does exactly that with her debut Ace Of Spades. The story revolves around Chiyamaki and Devon, the only two Black students in an all white elite high school. An anonymous texter is revealing compromising details of students' lives, and they seem to be focusing only on Chi and Devon. So they team up to figure out who Aces is and why they're targeting them.

i COULD NOT put down this book the entire time I was reading it. I had to literally force myself to pause reading it EVERY TIME so I could get some actual work done. The book pulls you into the story with intrigue and fear, and you can't help but turn page after page to find out what happens next and to make sure Chi and Devon are going to be okay. My heart raced at certain parts, and I was too scared to turn the page sometimes BUT I STILL COULD'NT STOP MYSELF FROM READING IT!

I LOVED the deep dive into Institutional Racism and the concept of social eugenics - which is a harsh reality for all marginalized people out there, especially people of color. I wish someone would write a similar story set in India that delves into the Institutional Casteism of the Indian society, i think that would make a bloody good memorable read.

Ace Of Spades is everything Dark Academia is supposed to be - Questioning prestigious establishments, whiteness, and privilege through the (queer) BIPOC lens. Cannot recommend it enough. 5/5 stars.
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This author and this book have been so hyped for such a long time, I was dare I say sceptical before reading. But those worries were smashed out of the water by the end of the first page. A tour de force and one of my best reads of 2021 so far!!
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Ace of spades by Faridah Abike-lyimide is a YA thriller about two students, Devon and Chiamaka and their struggles against an anonymous bully - Aces! 
This book gave me all the Gossip girls, Pretty little liars, one of us is lying and Get out vibes all rolled into one!! I personally didn't find it to be much of the thriller read I was expecting but that aside it was full of suspense, it was immediately addictive and made for a quick read - that or I just zoomed through it. 

Ace of spades tackles heavy topics surrounding racism, homophobia, mental health and more and in a really powerful, thought provoking way.
The ending did seem a tad unrealistic and I was expecting more but overall I really enjoyed this one and read it start to finish in a matter of hours. Highly recommended. A great debut novel!!

Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for an early copy of this one in exchange for an honest review.
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Wow! Thank you Netgalley and Usborne books for this ARC. 
I absolutely loved reading this and as a huge fan of gossip girl and Pretty little liars, I can say this was sooo nicely written ! The suspense was there right from the first few pages and the way the story unfolds with new secrets and twists was so amazing. I was able to picture every single scene and that tells you how great a writer Faridah is. A brilliant debut novel! 

Ace of spades tells the story of two teenagers Chiamaka Adebayo and Devon Richards who are the only black kids in their elite private school in their final year. A “gossip girl like character”, Ace reveals secrets of student but soon enough Chiamaka and Devon find out they might be the main targets of Ace. The book follows their lives as they essentially fight against  bullying and racism. (Trying so hard to make sure I don’t give out spoilers). 

In this book, deep themes are explored in very subtle and amazing ways. Themes like relationships, sexuality, racism and friendships. 

I absolutely love that the main characters were black. It’s so similar yet so different from gossip girl and pretty little liars and I can’t wait for the world to experience this book!
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TW// Racism, Homophobia, Bullying, and Suicide Ideation.

CW// Off-Screen Death and Flashbacks of Death, Outing of Queer Character, Mentions of Drugs and Alcohol, and Physical Violence.

When reading a book makes you feel like you’re on the verge of passing away and crossing the border into the afterlife out of pure disbelief of what you’re reading, then you know it’s a good fucking book. Ace of Spades is truly the thriller novel of the year, with its fast-paced nightmarish plot keeping readers on the edges of their seats. I tore through this book in a mere 7 hours and my brain hurt not just from reading it all in one go, but from replaying the ‘what-the-fuck-did-I-just-read’ events of the story over and over in my mind. Whew, where do I even begin? 

PLOT
Set in the elite private school Niveus Academy, this book follows the lives of our two main characters, Chiamaka Adebayo and Devon Richards, as they enter their senior year of high school and prepare for the next step in their lives: college. However, both fall victim to an anonymous texter who seems intent on revealing all their secrets. Both Chiamaka and Devon are affected by this in that if all their secrets are revealed, it will affect their futures and they won’t be able to go to the colleges of their dreams. To prevent this from happening, both are intent on uncovering the identity of their harasser. However, whatever they both thought of the ‘anonymous texter’ turns out to be something a lot more sinister, as it progressively turns into a fight not just for their futures, but for their lives. Àbíké-Íyímídé was brutal and unforgiving in writing this nightmare story and makes sure that the message of the story is very clear: racists are racists. This is not a book that humanizes or sympathises with racists, it also lets everyone know that even people who ‘aren’t racist’ but sit back and let it happen are just as monstrous as the racists themselves. 

RACE & CLASS
What I really enjoyed about this book, apart from its very compelling plot, is the exceptional way in which intersectionality was included, particularly the intersection of race and class. Through two interchanging perspectives in the book, Àbíké-Íyímídé clearly displays the hardships Black people go through compared to the privileged lives of white people. Devon is not a wealthy person, and his mother works 3 jobs to support him and his little brothers. He only got into Niveus by the grace of a scholarship, and for that, not only does he feel like an ‘other’ compared to all his wealthy white classmates, he’s also treated as an ‘other’ by his own Black people for attending a wealthy white school that Black people rarely get into. As for Chiamaka, despite the fact that she has generational wealth, she as a Black person also feels like an ‘other’ when attending school, as she feels the need to police her Black identity so she doesn’t stand out from her white classmates. Racial micro-aggressions are clearly present in the book and have definitely affected Chiamaka in the sense that she seems ashamed of her Black and African identity. She insists on straightening her hair every day for school, everyone calls her ‘Chi’ instead of Chiamaka, she doesn’t correct her friends when they mispronounce her surname, and she feels embarrassed at the thought of having her white friends eat Nigerian food. Unfortunately, this is a reality for so many Black people, and Àbíké-Íyímídé takes care to detail this.

RACE & SEXUALITY
While Black people are ultimately the victims in this book, that does not exempt them from also being bigoted. Àbíké-Íyímídé draws attention to the homophobic ways of some black people, and how being a queer Black person can actually be a danger to your life. Compared to our main character’s white queer classmate who doesn’t feel any worry being openly bisexual, there will always be that fear that any Black person they meet will be homophobic, or worse, violently homophobic. 

HIGHLY RECOMMEND!
One of the best books I’ve read all year, I recommend this book to everyone who comes across it. This is definitely one of those books that will make you wish you had the ability to erase your memory so you can read it and be bulldozed over with shock all over again. Note: if watching the movie Get Out scared you, this book will thoroughly fuck you up. 

Thank you to Usborne Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with a free e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
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Devon has always been flying under the radar, mostly kept to himself and he liked it that way, especially since he's one of the few scholarship student which makes him feel like he doesn't belong with his peers. That's why he couldn't be more surprised, when, on the first day of senior year, he's chosen has a prefect since it's pretty much a popularity contest… What isn't surprising though, is that Chiamaka is chosen as Head prefect, after all, she's the most popular girl in school.
Speaking of Chiamaka, she had to fight her way to the top and she regrets nothing.
But weird things start happening, and it starts with Devon being outed by a mysterious entity calling itself "Aces" and their next target is Chiamaka and that makes no sense since the two barely know each other. The only thing they have in common is that they're both Black. But that couldn't be why they're being targeted, right?...

This was truly excellent. It kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. I was STRESSED. I just jumped into this book without knowing much about it and regretted nothing. The characters were amazing in a layered and flawed way. The two points of view completed each other so well, and the whole thing was perfectly paced. I saw very few things coming and it was just so good. It really went deep into the heart of institutionalized racism and how it's anchored to our society. It was truly mesmerizing and infuriating.
Basically, a must read.
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Thank you to @usborneya for sending me a early copy in exchange for review! 

So here we go.. here is my review of Ace of spades! At the weekend I received a suprise package and it was... Ace of spades and yes I did read it from that night and finished this morning!! 😅

A book that grips you, unputdownable, keeps you guessing and is JUST SO DAMN GOOD!!! That’s what Ace of spades is.. @faridahlikestea what a terrific Debut novel this is and I already need more books from you like... yesterday hahahah 
This book is a thriller  at a private prep school with a shocking twist thrown into the mix... but oh this book goes so so deeper, it  tackles so many different themes in this book from institutional and systematic racism, Being LGBTQ+ and POC, And the disturbing nature of white supremacy. 

It’s very rare for a YA thriller to come along and just blow me away as much As Ace of Spades has just done but seriously you all do not want to miss out on this Novel when it releases June 10th 2021 this I can already have a feeling will be on the top of many peoples lists at the end of the year!! Including mine that’s for sure! 

P.S just a little disclaimer Devon and Chiamaka love them both!
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I knew this would be something amazing when I first spotted it back in September, and I'm so glad I got to read this because it was seriously just that good. If there was a single book that embodies the word 'unputdownable', this would be the one for sure.

The good:

✧ Whoever pitched this as Gossip Girl meets Get Out absolutely hit the nail on the head. It also gave me a lot of Pretty Little Liars vibes. That description was part of what pulled me in in the first place, and I didn't know how those two seemingly different worlds would mesh together but they did, and it worked amazingly. It has everything you know and love from that genre of teen high school shows, but uses the themes of Get Out to explore institutionalised racism, and it's just perfection.

✧ The plot? Absolutely insane. Every attempt to put the book down to go and do something else was a miserable failure because not a single chapter was wasted. I needed to know what happened next! Aces, the anonymous texter, at first seems cruel albeit relatively harmless, but it doesn't take long to realise that it's not just someone with a petty grudge. As everything amped up, I physically felt the fear and the sense of dread portrayed by Àbíké-Íyímídé's writing. Like, at one point I actually felt my chest tensing up as I worried for the main characters!! This plot really had me in a chokehold in the best way possible!

✧ The characters were so good. From the protagonists to the antagonists, they all felt so real. Relationships tugged on my heartstrings, betrayals punched me in the gut, and the two main characters, Chiamaka and Devon, were people that I rooted for the entire time. Everyone was so well characterised that it all felt highly believable.

✧ This plot was an interesting and unique way to explore racism. While I loved that, what I liked the most was how the blackness of the characters was depicted. Even whilst having to assimilate into the whitest of spaces, the main characters felt unapologetically black, especially Chiamaka, and it felt so comforting to see all the little details added in: Chi using coconut oil in her hair, her relationship and feelings towards her hair, eating traditional Nigerian dishes, watching TV whilst her mother cornrows her hair. I felt so seen. I loved every minute of it.

✧ I really loved the LGBT rep in this book. I especially loved seeing a relationship, with a character newly exploring that side of her sexuality, that didn't come packaged with some kind of trauma. The character talks about how it felt easy and comfortable for her, without having to worry about the implications. I know we don't yet live in a world where LGBT relationships are always allowed to be as 'simple' as their heterosexual counterparts, and that is a very real issue, but I also feel like we need positive depictions of LGBT relationships like this.

The bad:

✦ The only criticism I have is that now I have to wait patiently for Àbíké-Íyímídé to release her next work! And for June to roll around so that I can get my hands on a physical copy of this book!

I really can't praise Ace of Spades enough. Àbíké-Íyímídé is truly one to watch, and I hope everyone gets to read this when it finally comes out later this year.

I'd like to give a massive thanks to Usborne Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Ace of Spades is about two Black teens attending a private school, whose lives become infinitely more difficult when an anonymous texter starts leaking their secrets. It is thrilling and emotional, dealing with issues like institutionalised racism, homophobia, and socio-economic issues.

This was one of my most anticipated books of the year and I have to say I am impressed. It dealt with so many themes that I wasn’t expecting (I was mainly here for the dark academia vibe) but Àbíké-Íyímídé manages it beautifully.

Following Devon’s and Chiamaka’s stories was intense as the stakes grew and the tension built up. I liked Chiamaka’s arc but I connected with Devon’s more. I really felt for him and his struggles, numerous as they were. I appreciated reading about a male character feeling comfortable crying, too, as that doesn’t happen often. I’m happy he found a little bit of joy amidst the chaos. And I also really liked how the friendship between Devon and Chiamaka grew organically.

I guessed one of the plot twists but the others threw me for a loop. I was literally reading with my mouth open in horror. The climax was a little bit rushed for me but I loved the conclusion so much. I definitely want to read more from this author.
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4.5 ⭐️

I absolutely loved this book! It gave me Gossip Girl x Pretty Little Liars vibes, which i LOVE !!! 

the storyline was brilliant and constantly had me wondering what was happened, and there was soo many twists and turns that i did not see coming!!! 

this book had everything too, and talked about so many important things. this is definitely a must read!!
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing an arc in exchange for an honest review!

This was amazing!
From the plot twists, the discussion of institutional racism and the dark academia elements, there is so much to unpack with this book! 

First and foremost this book follows Chiamaka, a protagonist who is so unapologetic and rightfully confident as head girl and also Devon, a musician focusing on his music, wishing to pursue a high achieving college. These two characters and their perspectives were so in-depth and flushed out - it was so easy to envision them and they felt so real.

The context of this book and the discussion of racism, black mailing and all of the events taking place was terrifying and this book had so many layers. I can't believe that this is a debut!! The continuous plot twists also constantly left me at the edge of my seat and just when I thought I had a theory about a certain character, I was always proven wrong. 

I loved how thought provoking and in depth this book was - it was such an important read and its one that I would definitely love to reread physically!
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Fans of novels by Karen McManus, Maureen Johnson and Holly Jackson... you’re not going to want to miss this. Ace of Spades is some akin to Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars meets Get Out. 

Set in the prestigious private school Niveus Academy, Chiamaka and Devon are the only two black students there, and both are targeted by the anonymous Aces, who is determined to ruin their lives.

Ace of Spades is slick, compulsive and so clever. Unputdownable is a massive understatement. This is definitely a must read thriller of 2021. 

My head was spinning and my heart was in my mouth; there was pounding reverberations in my ears and tightness in my chest. The story was the definition of high stakes. Honestly if you’ve seen Get Out you’ll 100% understand the “WTF” vibe of utter wrongness the story evoked, and Ace of Spades is just as evocative. 

That meme of Tiffany Haddish holding Kevin Hart was me holding Devon and telling Aces to back the eff off. My heart genuinely shredded for him throughout the whole story and I felt immensely protective of him. His story was guttural and I loved his character. He’s the quiet boy in class who’s doing everything he can to help his mum and chase his musical dreams of getting into Juilliard. Chiamaka was a more morally grey character, representing all the kids out there who play a persona in high school because of peer pressures. Both she and Devon were juggling parental expectations and legacies, and it was so well drawn, I was stressed out alongside them. 

And can we take a moment to cheerlead over how INCREDIBLE the queer rep was here! For me, Ace of Spades is one of the best mystery/thrillers to champion queer relationships and identities - it felt positive and encouraging. 

Was it a perfect thriller? I had some doubts and questions, particularly why Chia and Devon didn’t speak to their parents before nearly everyone and anyone else, and what the outcome was for side characters like Dre, Belle and Jack. However, I feel my enjoyment, the story’s unputdownable-ness and its delve into an own voices exploration of institutional racism strongly outweighs any issues I had by the end. For a debut, it’s very impressive and one of the most entertaining and mastered mysteries I’ve read this year. It’s powerful, polarising and truly petrifying. I recommend it 10000% and have preordered Illumicrate’s special edition box of the book. 

Thank you kindly to the publishers and Netgalley for providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for this honest review.
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I don't read a lot of fantasy novels, but when I do, I'm always lucky to come across gems like this. I don't even have the words to describe how this novel made me feel but I'm so grateful the author finished writing this. What a book!
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Ace of Spades is a powerful book that is tense and unsettling right from the beginning, keeping you on the edge of your seat. It's Black and queer and uncomfortable, it doesn't shy away from talking about hard things and pushes you to think as you read it. 

Chiamaka and Devon, the main characters, are the only Black students at Niveus Academy, a prestigious school which always produces successful and powerful graduates. When an anonymous tester starts texting the student body, revealing secrets they'd thought to be very well buried, everything comes crashing down for these two. The year keeps getting harder and harder as their secrets are revealed one by one and they try to deal with the backlash, eventually trying to figure out the identity of the anonymous tester, Aces. 

Chiamaka is the Head Girl who will do anything to stay in power and refuses to back down no matter what anyone tells her. Devon is from the wrong side of the town, on a student scholarship, and dedicated to going to Julliard and not messing up anything. 

These characters are so well fleshed out, with their fears and flaws on display as the worst and most vulnerable parts of them are revealed and yet so loveable as they try to cope the best they can, as they try to hang on to the good instead of the bad that everything keeps pushing them towards. 

Their journey in trying to find Ace is thrilling and mysterious and never predictable. The author also expertly deals with the important topics she brings up, terrifying you with their intensity and making you unable to stop thinking about it for days later. There was also a perfect mix of teenage drama into the more complex plot lines which made the high school setting feel much more authentic and the characters younger. 

Overall, this book deals with the intersectionality of class, race and sexuality in a terrifying and much needed way with a mystery that keeps you guessing at every turn. I highly recommend this book.

Content warning: flashbacks of death, murder, blood mentions, blackmailing, stalking, outing (of queer character), physical violence, drugs, alcohol consumption
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Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for this ARC in exchange of an honest review!

OH SHIT, WHAT A GREAT DEBUT.

Ace of Spades follows two characters, Chiamaka and Devon, who are the only Black teens in the Niveus private school. They come from different worlds: Chiamaka is the most popular girl in school, with rich parents, while Devon is invisible (which he doesn’t care about) and has to watch his mom struggle with multiple jobs to keep him in Niveus. With college applications knocking on their door, Chiamaka and Devon needed their final year at school to be perfect. However, when Chiamaka and Devon are chosen as Head Senior Prefect and Senior Prefect (not unexpected for Chiamaka, but very much a surprise for Devon), an anonymous bully starts leaking secrets all around the school – and they are the main target. Discussing themes such as institutional racism, white supremacy, privilege, being LGBT+ and poor in a POC community, Ace of Spades brings on a brilliant twist of the Dark Academia genre, and I am here for it. 
Lemme tell you, I DEVOURED this book. I’m a slow reader, alright. Usually I take 9-15 days to read a chunky one, but I read this book in 3 or 4 days. And only because I was way too scared to read it past midnight lmao. And yes, I usually run away from thrillers and horror books, because I’m a coward, but this one was just so great and compelling that I found myself at the edge of my seat, eager to finish it. The twists???? Amazing. The build-up tension???? Amazing. The ending???? PERFECT. 
The author’s writing is just great. The pacing flowed so well, and even though the e-ARC didn’t tell us whose chapter it was, I could easily distinguish Chiamaka’s and Devon’s POVs because their voices are so distinct. And THEM1!!!!! Chi and Devon are such incredible protagonists. They made me laugh, made me cry (a lot), made me feel TERRIFIED for them. Devon is so sweet and loving, and Chiamaka might seem arrogant at first, but she’s doing whatever she can to stay on top, which includes masking who she truly is, because it’s the only way girls like her can win respect inside that school. Both of them have so many hopes for their future, and they make mistakes, they trust too much, but that’s exactly what makes them real and compelling. I absolutely love them, and I wish this book was longer, because I didn’t want to say goodbye. 
That’s not much else I can say without giving anything away, except that I vehemently recommend this book. And I can’t WAIT to see what other cards Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé has to play.
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Review of Ace of Spades by Faridah Abiké – Iyimidé         By Georgia Hardiman

If you thought Dan Brown was a page turner, think again. This thrilling debut novel had me on the edge of my seat and kept me guessing right to the last page.
Two students are targeted by an anonymous hater at the prestigious private school, Niveus.  Chiamaka is at the peak of her school career, in her last term she is determined to be crowned Queen at the annual snowflake ball.  Devon is from the wrong side of town, on a scholarship and only interested in getting into the top music academy of his choice. The only thing they have in common is the colour of their skin. 
These teens struggle with hot topics like sexuality, drugs and bullying and are thrown together as two unlikely companions forced to fight together or stand alone. The make an unlikely team, and yet they are determined to find out who is hell bent on ruining their lives and why. 
What they  uncover is shocking and scary, and will make you question everything you ever thought you knew about institutionalised racism. 
Heads up for the bad language and adult themes. This book is suitable for 14s and upwards with  parental guidance.
Suitable for CEFR B2/C1
I give it five stars for the face-paced action, totally believable characters and red hot topical themes which are dealt with forcefully and unapologetically.
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#AceOfSpades = high school drama with all the usual characters that quickly becomes something much bigger & it is *brilliant*. Pitched as "Gossip Girl meets Get Out", I was hooked by this timely story of institutional racism. Thx @Usborne for a proof & congrats @faridahlikestea! https://t.co/wDUW58LtJE
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Wow, this book really messed with my brain!!!
In the beginning I thought this was exactly like Gossip girl, but in the end it was so much more!
This turned quickly from rumours being spread by an anonymous source just like in GG to more of an Élite kind of feel. In part 2 and 3 I was so in panic I had to put it down a few times, it felt like reading a horror or thriller!
All the secrets and horrible truths revealed in this left me so shocked, even more so because after the news in the last few years (and me watching more news as I get older and trying harder to educate myself) it felt really close to reality too.

This isn’t just a thrilling Gossip Girl retelling, where rich kids try to outsmart even richer kids. This is about systematic racism and white supremacy.
It’s not a comfortable read and it’s not supposed to be.
Chiamaka and Devon are the only two Black kids at their school and they slowly realise that while they have not much else in common they must work together to solve Aces secret.
They come from two very different worlds socially. Chiamakas parents both being doctors and living in a giant mansion, while Devon is living on the outskirts of town, sleeping in one bed with his two brothers while his mother is working three jobs.
I loved Devon, he’s a rather morally grey character, but learning about his background story and his struggle with his sexuality you just feel for him and understand his actions so much.
Chiamaka is the typical spoiled rich girl on the outside, but while reading you get to know her and her struggles and somehow you come to love her as well, even though she’s a bit of a bitch. 😂
I loved that they were so different from each other and it was so cleverly done. Because while Chiamaka seems to be super privileged and is supposed to have it so easy to get and live the future she wants to, in the end it doesn’t matter.

For me the pacing was a little off. It was rather slow in the beginning, and a little too fast in the last part, especially the last chapter. In the end there were quite a few fray ends too. Some things were just left without getting addressed another time (for example: what about Chi’s parents, Dre, Belle?), which was a little unsatisfying for me personally. 

All in all this was a very powerful debut novel though and a very fast paced, quick read that makes you think even after finishing it. Queer, Black dark academia, a book you will not be able to put down once you start!
I believe this would make an amazing TV show too.
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Firstly can i just say that when you have
 a baby it is NOT a good idea to stay up late and finish a book. However i couldn't help it, i HAD TO KNOW what
happened.

This book is about kids at high school and a mysterious person called Aces is revealing secrets. It started off with a
 very similar storyline to One Of Us is Lying, but let me tell you, that this book is IN A LEAGUE OF ITS OWN. Plot twists,
 the ending that i didn't see coming, the subject matter. The fact that I was uncomfortable reading this really shows
 how powerful of a message it portrays. Serious note, even whilst writing this review, my chest is tight, my eyes water,
because i get it. I'm part of an ethnic minority one that is not represented in a positive light at all. It hurts and its such
 an important topic to talk about!

 A note to the author.... WOW WOW WOW. I read a lot of books. I
 don't get surprised easily! However your writing style, the
 topic, the emotion and passion that i could feel through
 reading thank you for writing this!!!

Lost one star in the end because i found the ending a little unrealistic... i dont want to spoil it but part of what happened, i expected more of an uproar!
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yoooo this was so brutally good. it took me a while to read, partly because I was just really busy with uni work but also because it was so insanely good and brutal and just aaah. I couldn't just read this in a few sittings. I really had to think about everything I read. Ace of Spades challenges systematic oppression and white supremacy in a dark academia setting which is extremely unsettling. I was so angry while reading this, it's crazy to think these things actually happen still. Ace of Spades was everything I thought it would be. Read this, please
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