Book Title: Aces Wild
Author: Amanda DeWitt
Release Date: September 13, 2022
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery, Contemporary, LGBTQ+
My rating: 3/5 Stars
What happens in Vegas when an all-asexual online friend group attempts to break into a high-stakes gambling club? Shenanigans ensue.
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?
When I saw that Aces Wild follows a group of asexual people partaking in a heist, I just knew I had to read it. The amount of books I’ve read with asexual representation is still much lower than I would like, so I’m always looking to read more. And how could anyone resist that gorgeous cover? While Aces Wild might not have been exactly what I was expecting, I did still enjoy it!
I thought the plot of Aces Wild was entertaining and made for a quick and fun read. I hadn’t read many stories with a family quite like Jack’s before, so I thought it was interesting to see how all of that drama played out. The heist itself was more a gathering of information to help prove Jack’s mom had been set up, but regardless, I was always curious about what would happen or which clue would be revealed next.
The author did a great job of describing the scenery. I had a clear picture of Las Vegas and each casino the crew ventured to. I’ve never been to a casino or Las Vegas before, but I could practically hear the sounds of the slot machines and the card tables as the characters described their surroundings. The writing itself was also clean and effective, so I had no issues with that.
My biggest complaint is about the characters. I was so, so excited to see an all-ace cast of characters, but unfortunately, most of them fell flat. Each of the characters were very surface level, and we never actually learned all that much about them aside from a few facts about their time together online or where they’re from. Even the relationship between Jack and Remy, which was the most developed connection in the book, still lacked depth.
I also wish asexuality had been discussed more. It was stated several times that each member of the group was ace and that it’s a spectrum, but we were never really shown that. I know this wasn’t a book designed to educate people on asexuality, but this would have been the perfect opportunity to showcase just how varied asexuality can be. With so few books that shine a lot on the different parts of the ace spectrum, I had high hopes that this one would really demonstrate that.
One positive note about the asexual representation was Jack’s point of view. In a lot of the ace books I’ve seen, the characters are always repulsed by sex and make it seem like all asexual people are. I like that Jack didn’t have that mentality. Instead, he simply seemed uninterested in it himself. This is the kind of variation I want to see more of. I just wish it had gone even further than that, especially in regards to the other characters.
Even so, I have to give this book props for including the representation that it did. We had all of the asexual characters of course, an aro-ace character, a non-binary character, and more. I think Aces Wild is definitely a great starting point for more asexual representation, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.
While I did have some issues with Aces Wild, I will definitely check out what the author does next, because her writing was solid, and I enjoyed the plot. Honestly, I flew through this book in one or two sittings, so it was definitely engaging.
I would still recommend Aces Wild, especially if you’re aware going in that the story is more focused on plot and less on developing the characters. If I had known that, I feel I definitely would have liked it more. All in all though, I’m not disappointed I read it and I did enjoy it!
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
Check out my last blog post: Mr. Romance (ARC Review)