ARC Review: ACES WILD by Amanda DeWitt

I received an eARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Title in yellow on black with cards in one corner and poker chips in another
Genre: Contemporary Thriller
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 5 stars
Series: standalone

Blurb:

Book cover for ACES WILD: title in neon letters on black like a sign with poker chips and a club also in light style

Some people join chess club, some people play football. Jack Shannon runs a secret blackjack ring in his private school’s basement. What else is the son of a Las Vegas casino mogul supposed to do?

Everything starts falling apart when Jack’s mom is arrested for their family’s ties to organized crime. His sister Beth thinks this is the Shannon family’s chance to finally go straight, but Jack knows that something’s not right. His mom was sold out, and he knows by who. Peter Carlevaro: rival casino owner and jilted lover. Gross.

Jack hatches a plan to find out what Carlevaro’s holding over his mom’s head, but he can’t do it alone. He recruits his closest friends—the asexual support group he met through fandom forums. Now all he has to do is infiltrate a high-stakes gambling club and dodge dark family secrets, while hopelessly navigating what it means to be in love while asexual. Easy, right?

Blurb taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

ACES WILD can best be described as hijinks on the Las Vegas strip as a rich boy with gambling experience (and how to win) finds out his mum is going to prison thanks to an ex friend romantically obsessed with her.

This is a book of secrets and lies – and lots of illegal gambling. It was so much fun to read – and the rep!!!

The family relationships in this are so complicated, as the various siblings have reacted differently to the money and rather hands-off nature of their parents. Rebels, following in footsteps, and trying to be substitute parents all comes up, as well as the frictions those approaches cause. However, you can see they love each other and that this is just their way of showing it. Also the dad is very scatter-brained (to say it politely) and the kids’ blasé approach to his equally blasé parenting made me laugh a lot.

I loved the range of asexuality portrayed in this book. Asexuality is very much a spectrum and this book showcases that. It also looked at the distinction between asexuality and being aromantic, as some characters were just ace while others were also aro. This is the sort of rep I want to see more of as an aroacespec reader!

The book is very tongue-in-cheek. It’s written as if it’s Jack’s confession, recounting it all later to an unknown audience. And he’s very upfront about holding back information for reveals later on, teasing that there is information but he won’t say it now. That upfront nature made the deliberate withholding for a few chapters really work for me – usually that sort of thing irritates me, but the way it was done felt like it was poking fun at the trope/usual way it’s handled. (Also a lot of the book felt like it was both celebrating and poking fun at heist movies, which was also a lot of fun.)

In all, a great debut and I look forward to seeing what Amanda DeWitt comes up with next.

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