Author: Brittney Morris
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: September 24, 2019
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?
I love video games so I was super excited to read this book! I kept my gaming side a secret when I was younger, because my friends didn’t like playing games. I could relate to Kiera, since she had to keep that part of her life a secret too. However, she had the even bigger secret that she actually created the popular game that she plays!
Race was a huge issue in this book. Kiera created the game as a place for black gamers to celebrate themselves in a game. The cards in the game were named after references to black culture or famous black figures in history. The game became controversial when a boy was killed for playing the game. Then, Kiera had to face the possibility of real life consequences for creating this game.
One thing that the critics of this game in the book often said was that the game excluded people of other races because you had to be black to be invited. It wasn’t created as an exclusionary game, but instead as a safe place for gamers to play a game where they wouldn’t be attacked due to their appearance. Kiera walked a fine line when her game was analyzed by the news, but it’s important for everyone to have a safe space to do what they love.
I loved this book so much!
Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Have you read SLAY? What did you think of it?