Slay Review

Title: Slay
Author: Brittney Morris
Release Date: 24 September 2019
Age Range: Young Adult
Genre:
Contemporary

Synopsis

By day, seventeen-year-old Kiera Johnson is an honors student, a math tutor, and one of the only Black kids at Jefferson Academy. But at home, she joins hundreds of thousands of Black gamers who duel worldwide as Nubian personas in the secret multiplayer online role-playing card game, SLAY. No one knows Kiera is the game developer, not her friends, her family, not even her boyfriend, Malcolm, who believes video games are partially responsible for the “downfall of the Black man.”

But when a teen in Kansas City is murdered over a dispute in the SLAY world, news of the game reaches mainstream media, and SLAY is labeled a racist, exclusionist, violent hub for thugs and criminals. Even worse, an anonymous troll infiltrates the game, threatening to sue Kiera for “anti-white discrimination.”

Driven to save the only world in which she can be herself, Kiera must preserve her secret identity and harness what it means to be unapologetically Black in a world intimidated by Blackness. But can she protect her game without losing herself in the process?

Review

Trigger and Content Warnings: Racism, death, doxxing, threats

I had no idea what I was starting when reading this book as all I had to go off was the description. And the description was great! but it doesn’t do the story justice. It’s so much better than how it was described and it already sounded good to begin with.

The story is based around the struggle of the main character being Black in a predominately white school and society and having her space to really be herself invaded and threatened. I highly recommend looking at an own voice reviewer for the Black representation in the story. But I did find the story great despite not being able to connect with that specific struggle because I’ve never experienced it. Kiera explains the struggles to fit in whether with her sister, her boyfriend, and her white friend and how each of them expressing their opinions and questioning her affects how she interacts with the world and reflects on herself and what she wants for her future as a Black women in society today. The way the author wrote it makes you sit back and really think.

My favorite parts where any scene that was in the video game, not only because the video game itself sounded amazing, but because of the way Kiera was connected to it and how that was written. Brittney Morris did an amazing job at writing what the game Slay means to Kiera and describing and showing that love for the game. You could really see how invested and how much care Kiera has for Slay through out the story from the reactions she has to events and the steps she takes to protect it and herself. It’s not just a game it’s a place where she can be herself and she’s panicking because her secret space is being threatened and called harmful.

And Morris also did an amazing job at describing the game as well as how it functions and the struggles some people have trying to discretely play it. The game Slay itself is well thought out and developed and with each description of the game you can feel the passion for this story and this topic come through from the author.

I also loved how there was talk about how the game was created, the coding and money and time and struggles involved in creating and maintaining Slay. And just the way different people overcame different obsticals to be able to play the game from all over with different financial and family backgrounds.

Which also leads me to the different point-of-views (pov) presented in the story. The only other time I’ve seen this was in They Both Die at the End and I was hesitant when I first read the pov of someone other than the main character for both. I continued on and found that Slay also connects these different povs together so that each story connects back to Kiera somehow and it was done in a really great way. Having the differing pov also gave the author the ability to tackle how Slay, and having a safe space to game online, affects different people.

Definitely would suggest to those of you who love books about virtual gaming as well as books tackling everyday problems as it is a nice blend of both.

I would rate this book a 4.4/5 (so a 4) for Goodreads.