Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé (2021) Review

I stand humbled

Why I picked up the book:

Life is excellent for Chiamaka, a wealthy biracial girl, and Devon, a hardworking scholarship black guy. They are in their senior year at the prestigious Niveus Private Academy. They make prefect, which means basically being a shoo-in for college applications and having a solid shot at valedictorian.

Enter Aces – an anonymous cyberbully who sets to make their lives hell and turn their world upside down. Because, why not?

The book through my criteria lens:

I read Ace of Spades as an audiobook produced by Macmillan Audio. If there is one thing I can count on is the quality of their production, it never disappoints, but it surpassed all my expectations this time. Ace of Spades is an excellent impactful book, and producing its audiobook version was such a gamble. But wholeeee – Jeanette Illidge and Tapiwa Mugweni did it so much justice! They embodied our main protagonists and gave them a respectful, accurate, and impactful voice. Their pacing was so on point, and the emotion they lent to their narration must have been so draining; I felt I was getting all of them and all of Chiamaka and Devon!

I have never watched Gossip Girl, but I know about it, and I feel that the description of “GG meets Get Out” is very accurate. Ace of Spades is uncomfortable in the most brilliant way, insidiously claustrophobic, painfully honest, and beautifully vulnerable. There is nothing I can fault on this book. It contains inspired characterization, compelling atmosphere, tight plotting with perfect execution—chef’s kiss.

My personal feelings:

 I am literally in awe! After reading the book as I was getting my blog post ready and found Faridah’s website, I found out this remarkable writer is 22!! TWENTY-FREAKING-TWO. 

I am not saying that young people can’t be this talented, because that would be a lie. Talent is something you’re born with, but the depth of characters, the ease with which she pulled the reader in, the beautiful poetry of her prose while at the same time punching your gut with uncoated realism seems to me to be beyond the years of a young adult.

Writing is her calling, and I am so happy to experience her first novel; I only hope to read many more. I don’t know Faridah, but I am so proud of the woman she is; I actually cried, empathizing with the pride her parents must feel!

I’m going on a short tangent but bear with me. I know this is a controversial opinion, but I am one of those people who believe that Michael Jackson wasn’t a pedophile. I feel he has been someone used and abused from a young age who never had a chance to be a child. I honestly believe that his proximity to children was a way for him to try to have the childhood he was deprived of. I don’t want this to be a controversial post, but it is undeniable that MJ was a pure musical genius. He single-handedly revolutionized pop and was ahead of his time in the beats he created; he might as well have created MTV because his music videos were always the ones who STARTED trends; he was also the first to make concerts as experience. The guy was and always will be a genius! 

Why am I talking about him? Well, I kind of feel that Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé was born under the same star. She is, in my opinion, to fiction (and I say fiction because I feel she could write anything and be amazing) what Michael Jackson was to music. A pure, blessed genius who was born to touch people through her words. I’ll stop because I sound like a stalker. Promise you I am not. Just deeply touched and awe-struck. 

Ace of Spades is a compelling work of non-fiction that uses fictional characters and settings. Everything our protagonists go through is very much real, which is scary. It shares with the world the impact of racism on the lives of those who suffer from it. I loved how it represents many sides of racism, from the most veiled to the most disgustingly open. Ace of Spades also does a tremendous job representing queerness, privilege, social injustices, biracial relationships, adolescence, and the pressure to do better than one’s parents. 

It is very much a book meant to give voice to those who feel powerless and encourage people to fight for who they want to be and what they want to do. Even if the journey is more challenging, they are worth the result. 

I hope that everyone who reads this book takes a meaningful lesson with them. If they feel powerless, I hope they learn to fight. If they

realize they are a monster, I hope they reflect on the impact of their actions and learn that it’s never too late to change. If they are privileged cowards, I hope they decide to stop turning a blind eye.

Honestly, my mind is so blown. I’m crying as I write this because this book touched me so much. I don’t know how prose can read like poetry, but this was my experience. I have no more words.

I lied; I can’t stop… The last thing, I promise. I am not usually one to listen to songs; maybe because, as an empath, they have power over my emotions, and it can become too much at times – trust me, I cry a lot when I listen to music. But as I read Ace of Spades, I kept thinking of songs to which I have a deep emotional connection. Not sure if you’re interested, but they are (in order of the emotions *I felt* reading the book, the last two songs are post-reading feels): https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5NuzwlLtPxWs6qb43nBi2C?si=FH7CmXuOSLOzl8oTz5-Grg 

**Minor Spoilers below** (click on the arrow)
    1. Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus
    **
    2. Twin Peaks theme song by Angelo Badalamenti
    **
    3.Just Like a Pill by P!nk
    **
    4. How Come, How Long (in my opinion THE BEST song about what happens when we turn a blind eye, I cry every time I hear it) by Babyface
    **
    5. Man in the Mirror by MJ (THE song for when we accept we are not passive agents in our lives)
    **
    6. You Gotta Be by Des’ree
    **
    7. Dance with My Father by Luther Vandross (not quite what happens in the book, but I related to a character who wished they knew the last time they saw their dad, was actually the last time)
    **
    8. Somewhere Over the Rainbow (the ultimate hopeful song) by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
    **
    9. How to Save a Life by The Fray
    **
    10. Carmine Burana: O Fortuna by Carl Orff
    **
    11. Beethoven 5th: Allegro con Brio
    **
    12. Count on Me by Bruno Mars
    **
    13. Blackbird by The Beatles
    **
    14. Fight Song by Rachel Plattern
    **
    15. Beethoven’s 9th: Ode to Joy
    **
    16. Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys (really that last paragraph!!!)
    **
    17. Imagine by John Lennon
    **
    18. Heal the World by Michael Jackson

I’m just humbled and in awe. Reading Ace of Spades felt like an intimately emotional experience. I am pretty sure I just witnessed a star being born, legit greatness. 

wonder if it will work

Enjoyability     10

Characters       10

Ambience        10

Fairness          10

Plot               10  

Execution   10    

My total rating: 5

Review for this book is mentioned in this video: Coming soon

BOOK SNAPSHOT:

Until next book, be the hummingbird!

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