Jul 27, 2021librarianjessicaboorsma rated this title 4 out of 5 stars
What a scathing critique of institutional racism, with such addictive writing.
Chiamaka and Devon are chosen to be prefects at their school, Niveus Academy, and they have very different feelings about it. Chiamaka has been chasing perfection her whole life, and becoming Head Prefect fits into her plan of getting into med school and being the best doctor; Devon is just trying to get into Julliard and work on his music. But when an anonymous texter going by Aces begins unearthing secrets about the two of them, things start get getting darker, and the conspiracy may have deeper roots than they could have ever imagined.
This was pitched as Get Out meets Gossip Girl, and I see it, I really do. At first even the texting style of Aces felt so much like GG that I was a little...thrown off, I guess? I felt like I could've been watching the show, and I heard the texts in Kristen Bell's voice. But as the story took off and grew its own legs, I became more sympathetic towards it, and I just had to know what the heck was going on.
And for most of the book, that drive is so, so real. From the first Aces text, my brain was going ??!! trying to figure it out. As Chiamaka and Devon get into investigating, I felt like I couldn't put the book down, and when things are finally revealed, I'm pretty sure I said "what the ****" out loud at least five times. This is such a messed up plot, so unbelievable, but it's also a logical result of this institutional racism that we as a society continue to ignore and, at times, embrace. The plot is outlandish, but at the same time, totally not. Despite some wonky pacing (about 3/4 of the way through, I found it waned quite a bit), I found it all extremely thought-provoking and engaging.
For me, Chiamaka shone brighter than Devon as a character overall. They're both great, don't get me wrong, but Chi's self discoveries that occur alongside this vicious string of revelations and abuse just push her more into the spotlight for me. Devon is quieter and feels more subdued, while Chi's emotions are front and center, which is truly just who they are as people. However, I also felt like they kind of...didn't mesh. Like separately, they're great, and make sense, but when they work together, I just didn't feel the connection between them.
Which then ultimately made the epilogue (arguably the best part of the book) feel a bit more forced to me. I wish I believed in their friendship more.
However, all of that said, this is still a wonderful, important book. I am here for the anger and needing to get these words out into the world, to take things to an extreme in order to raise awareness and get people mad.