Book Review: A Match Made In Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai

Book Review: A Match Made In Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai

Published September 2019 by Little, Brown Books For Young Readers|320 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Fifteen-year-old Simran “Simi” Sangha comes from a long line of Indian vichole-matchmakers-with a rich history for helping parents find good matches for their grown children. When Simi accidentally sets up her cousin and a soon-to-be lawyer, her family is thrilled that she has the “gift.”

But Simi is an artist, and she doesn’t want to have anything to do with relationships, helicopter parents, and family drama. That is, until she realizes this might be just the thing to improve her and her best friend Noah’s social status. Armed with her family’s ancient guide to finding love, Simi starts a matchmaking service-via an app, of course.

But when she helps connect a wallflower of a girl with the star of the boys’ soccer team, she turns the high school hierarchy topsy-turvy, soon making herself public enemy number one.

I liked A Match Made In Mehendi! It was really cute and really fun to read.

I think what I liked most was how Simi updated her family’s matchmaking business. They were pretty traditional, and not interested in using apps to match people. But after seeing how successful the app was at her school, they ended up modernizing how they did things. I’m curious to see how it works years from now, but hopefully, they’ll be able to match more people with it.

I wish I could remember names, but Simi definitely made an enemy out of the popular girl at school. I’m not surprised by how she acted at all, but I wasn’t surprised that she didn’t have any strong matches. She made Simi’s life hell because she didn’t get what she wanted. It seemed like there was a reason behind it, but that didn’t make it okay.

She seemed pretty interested in art, especially mehendi, but it seemed like the matchmaking app took over her life for a while. It definitely changes things for a while, and she learns that people aren’t what they seem. But for someone who’s really into art…I just wanted to see more of her art. Her project for art class seemed really cool, and I felt like it dropped off as she got more wrapped up in matchmaking and boys.

I know the app is a huge part of the book and boosting her social status. And it was cute to see how people were matched up- even the people you wouldn’t think would go together. The family history of matchmaking was really cool, though, and I get her hesitation to be involved in the family business. It’s not something you see in books, and I like how unique it is.  It makes the book stand out even more.

3 stars. I liked A Match Made In Mehendi. It’s cute and light-hearted and perfect if you like books like When Dimple Met Rishi.

Book Review: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Book Review: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Published October 2019 by Flatiron Books|458 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: Alex Stern #1

Genre: Adult Mystery

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.

The mesmerizing adult debut from #1 New York Times bestselling author Leigh Bardugo.

I liked Ninth House! I wasn’t sure what to expect, because it’s definitely different than any of her Grishaverse novels. I really liked those books, and I’ve been looking forward to this one for quite a while.

I really liked Alex. I’m really intrigued with what she can see, and how she’s able to do it when most people can’t. I wonder why she’s able to, but if it was mentioned why, then I must have missed it. But it was pretty normal for her to see the Gray’s and I liked that about her ability. Still, I was sad that it seemed like people knew and didn’t do anything about it. I think it would have made her feel a lot better, like she could do something about it.

I really like the idea of a ninth house keeping watch over all of the other houses. Which are the secret societies you always hear about. They all have a purpose for existing, and the whole time I was reading the book, I felt like there was a whole history we didn’t know about.

Honestly, I just loved the world and why all of the Ivy League schools came about. It was hard not to get pulled into that world, and what was going on. You could see the distinction between the students and the people who live there, and how…corrupt…things were.

It seemed like everyone had a role in the ninth house, but I didn’t really think that was explained enough. Maybe it was supposed to be obvious, and it went over my head. Honestly, I just wanted to know why the roles had certain names, and I feel like it’s supposed to mean something, but I could never figure out what.

It took me most of the book to figure out that it was jumping around in time, and wasn’t told linearly. That might have added to my confusion, and I couldn’t figure out why it seemed like we were in present time and randomly going back in time.

I didn’t love it, and there were things that didn’t make sense to me. I’m pretty sure you’ve picked up on that at this point, but I did want to know what happened next, and that’s a big reason why I kept reading. I’d definitely read the next to see what’s in store for Alex and to see what happens next. I see that as a pretty good sign that the book caught my interest.

3 stars. I liked Ninth House, especially the world Alex lives in. Yale is a great back-drop for everything that happens, and I do want to know what happens next.

Book Review: Shatter City by Scott Westerfeld

Book: Shatter City by Scott Westerfeld

Published September 2019 by Scholastic Press|416 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Impostors #2

Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Dystopia

When the world sees Frey, they think they see her twin sister Rafi. Frey was raised to be Rafi’s double, and now she’s taken on the role…without anyone else knowing.

Her goal? To destroy the forces that created her.

But with the world watching and a rebellion rising, Frey is forced into a detour. Suddenly she is stranded on her own in Paz, a city where many of the citizens attempt to regulate their emotions through an interface on their arms. Paz is an easy place to get lost…and also an easy place to lose yourself.

As the city comes under a catastrophic attack, Frey must leave the shadows and enter the chaos of warfare – because there is no other way for her to find her missing sister and have her revenge against her murderous father. 

 

I really liked Shatter City! It was an interesting read, and I was curious to see how things would work out after the way Impostors ended. It didn’t disappoint, and I definitely want to know what happens next.

It was interesting to follow both Frey and Rafi. It was pretty interesting to see how they did the good old twins pretending to be each other thing. Even though this series follows Frey, there is part of me that wonders what things are really like for Rafi, and I’d love to see a chapter or two from her perspective. I don’t think I need a whole book from her perspective, or even a good chunk of any book following her, but a chapter or two could be interesting.

We see more of the world that Frey lives in, which was really nice. It makes me wonder how much more of the world we’ll see in the rest of the series, and I can’t wait to see if we’ll stay pretty close to where we’ve been, or if there will be a lot more traveling involved. If she’s going to go after her father, she can’t go far, but she’ll also need allies, so I’m curious to see if anyone will help her, or if they’ll just go along with it.

It also makes me wonder about the geography of the world she lives in versus where the original Uglies trilogy took place. Is it close to where Tally’s from, or in a completely different area? I’d kill for a map of Frey’s world just so I know where things are in relation to each other.

I feel like Rafi and Frey really come into their own in this book. There’s definitely room for growth and change, of course, but Rafi does some things I would not have expected. And Frey…I felt for her. She has a lot to deal with, especially with the revelations about her brother.

I did not see that coming, and I so want more about him and how he got to that point. That’s a story I really want to know, even though I know we’d only get bits and pieces. And that’s assuming we get anything else during the rest of the series.

I really hope we see them in a world where they don’t have to deal with their father. It makes me wonder who they’ll become and how they’ll change if he’s someone they don’t have to deal with or worry about. I’m pretty sure we won’t see that but I can’t help but wonder what their world would be like if he wasn’t a factor.

I’m also curious to see if we’ll see Tally. She’s definitely mentioned, and her story was definitely finished. But part of me wonders how she is, what she’s up to and if she wants to help get rid of Frey’s dad. I want Frey and Rafi to deal with this on their own, but part of me does want Tally to randomly show up and help out.

4 stars. I really liked Shatter City, and I really liked seeing how big this world is.

Book Review: The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad Of Mulan by Sherry Thomas

Book: The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad Of Mulan by Sherry Thomas

Published September 2019 by Tu Books|352 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

CHINA, 484 A.D.

A Warrior in Disguise

All her life, Mulan has trained for one purpose: to win the duel that every generation in her family must fight. If she prevails, she can reunite a pair of priceless heirloom swords separated decades earlier, and avenge her father, who was paralyzed in his own duel.

Then a messenger from the Emperor arrives, demanding that all families send one soldier to fight the Rouran invaders in the north. Mulan’s father cannot go. Her brother is just a child. So she ties up her hair, takes up her sword, and joins the army as a man.

A War for a Dynasty

Thanks to her martial arts skills, Mulan is chosen for an elite team under the command of the princeling–the royal duke’s son, who is also the handsomest man she’s ever seen. But the princeling has secrets of his own, which explode into Mulan’s life and shake up everything she knows. As they cross the Great Wall to face the enemy beyond, Mulan and the princeling must find a way to unwind their past, unmask a traitor, and uncover the plans for the Rouran invasion . . . before it’s too late.

Inspired by wuxia martial-arts dramas as well as the centuries-old ballad of Mulan, The Magnolia Sword is perfect for fans of Renee Ahdieh, Marie Lu, or Kristin Cashore–a thrilling, romantic, and sharp-edged novel that lives up to its beloved heroine. 

I was really excited about this one because it’s a re-telling of Mulan, but unfortunately, I didn’t like this one as much as I wanted to.  It ended up being an okay read for me.

There were some things I really liked about The Magnolia Sword.  I really liked that she was a twin, and that her family was at odds with the prince’s family.  I liked that each generation had to duel- it wasn’t what I expected, but I thought it worked really well.  Especially with how they came together during the book.

I also liked how detailed this book was.  You could tell that Thomas did her research while reading this book.  It really shone throughout the book, and while I know nothing about this time period or the original telling of Mulan, it felt like it was pretty true to the time period.  Please take that with a grain of salt, though, because I’m only familiar with the Disney movie.  And even then, it’s been ages and ages since I’ve watched it.

Unfortunately, I didn’t find the book thrilling or romantic, the way it was described.  I was bored, which made me sad, because I didn’t want to be bored.  The Magnolia Sword is more about the characters, which is fine, but I don’t think it was what I wanted.  I wanted more action and battles, and considering the fact that there seemed to be a lot going on at the time, I wanted to be more interested in the book.  Instead, I was really close to not finishing it, and I’m not sure how I did.

Mulan…was not memorable.  I wish I could tell you more about her, but she didn’t stand out to me.  Considering the book was more character driven, and she’s the main character, that was a little disappointing.  And the prince is even less memorable, considering I can’t even remember his name.  And the fact that he and Mulan end up dueling, and they spend a good amount of time together…it’s definitely not a good sign.  You’d think I’d be able to remember but the name didn’t stick.

2 stars.  The Magnolia Sword was just okay, and while there were some things I liked, overall, I was pretty bored.

Book Review: When She Reigns by Jodi Meadows

Book: When She Reigns by Jodi Meadows

Published September 2019 by Katherine Tegen Books|496 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Fallen Isles #3

Genre: YA Fantasy

The First Dragon

The Great Abandonment has begun. Panic has seized the Fallen Isles, where no one knows which god will rise next. Mira Minkoba believes her dreams hold the secret to bringing an end to the destruction, but in order to save her people, she’ll have to find a legendary treasure: the bones of the first dragon.

The Last Hope

Mira’s desperate search leads the Hopebearer and her friends on a dangerous journey into the heart of enemy territory: the Algotti Empire itself. The empress is more than willing to help—for an impossible price. And as tensions escalate beneath the shadows of the risen gods, Mira grapples with a terrifying question: What will she have to sacrifice to preserve what she loves?

The explosive finale to Jodi Meadows’s Fallen Isles trilogy is ablaze with sizzling romance and fiery magic as Mira’s fight to save dragons from extinction evolves into a mission to save her world from annihilation. 

I liked When She Reigns. Unfortunately, this is another one where I’m having trouble remembering the details, so this is going to be a short one.

It’s been a while since I finished it, so I’m having trouble remembering a lot of the details. Mira’s connection with the dragons was amazing, and that was actually my favorite thing about this book. I loved seeing that connection, and everything that came along with it. It definitely changed over the course of the book, and one particular moment at the end made me really sad, but it also made sense for the story.

Even though I re-read the series before reading this one, I actually want to go back and re-read them after reading this one. Mira’s love of dragons makes so much sense now, and knowing what I know, part of me wants to go back and see if there was anything I missed.

Seeing all of the gods was interesting, but I think seeing them through Mira was even more interesting. You see how horrifying it is each time, especially because of how much it affected the dragons. In the end, everything worked out but it was interesting to see how everything happened. I am curious to see how everything worked for everyone.

We did get to visit the empire, though their name is escaping me at the moment. I wish we saw more of it, considering it was mentioned quite a bit. At least we got to go for a little bit, but part of me just wanted to know more about them. I know it’s not really about them, but I feel like there’s a lot of history there, and that’s a story I’d love to see if there was ever a spin-off series.

3 stars. When She Reigns was a good conclusion but not a lot stuck with me after finishing it.

Book Review: Five Dark Fates by Kendare Blake

Book: Five Dark Fates by Kendare Blake

Published September 2019 by HarperTeen|464 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: Three Dark Crowns #4

Genre: YA Fantasy

After the battle with Katharine, the rebellion lies in tatters. Jules’s legion curse has been unbound, leaving her out of her mind and unfit to rule. Arsinoe must find a cure, even as the responsibility of stopping the ravaging mist rests heavy on her shoulders, and her shoulders alone. Mirabella has disappeared.

Queen Katharine’s rule over Fennbirn remains intact—for now. But her attack on the rebellion exacted a high price: her beloved Pietyr. Without him, who can she rely upon when Mirabella arrives, seemingly under a banner of truce? As oldest and youngest circle each other, and Katharine begins to yearn for the closeness that Mirabella and Arsinoe share, the dead queens hiss caution—Mirabella is not to be trusted.

In this conclusion to the Three Dark Crowns series, three dark sisters will rise to fight as the secrets of Fennbirn’s history are laid bare. Allegiances will shift. Bonds will be tested, and some broken forever.

The fate of the island lies in the hands of its queens.

I liked Five Dark Fates.  Not as much as the other books but I did want to know what happened, and if all of the queens made it through alive.

This book was definitely full of twists and turned, and while I wasn’t surprised by some of the things that happened, I did enjoy the book a lot.

Well, what I remember.  It’s been a while since I’ve read it, so I’m having a hard time remembering it.  I did like the ending and I thought, overall, it was pretty fitting.  I was glad things worked out for the island, though there are a lot of changes in store for them.

Things are definitely going to be different for them, and part of me wishes we got to see what happened decades later.  But I’m also glad we didn’t, because it means I get to come up with my own version of how things changed.

I’m having a hard a time with this review.  That’s what I get for putting it off, and now I feel like I can’t remember anything about it.  Clearly, this book didn’t stick with me, and for a series finale, that’s not a good thing.  You’d think there would be some excitement or something that would really stand out but the book was pretty slow.  I wanted more action and excitement, especially because we had that in the other books.  I wanted a more exciting conclusion, and this was a lot less interesting than I thought it would be.

Katharine was interesting- the dead queens didn’t seem to have the same hold over her in this book, and it makes me wonder why we didn’t see it before.  I don’t know if it took some time for it to happen, and I’m not completely sure what to make of it.  It was different but I don’t know what to think of it.

Not everyone makes it out alive, which didn’t surprise me.  I think I would have been disappointed if they had.  I wasn’t necessarily surprised by some of the deaths, but with a series like this, I felt like it had to happen.  And I feel like, to a certain extent, it had to mirror what had happens hundreds of years earlier with the Blue Queen.

3 stars.  I liked Five Dark Fates, and I liked seeing what happened to all of the characters, but it wasn’t the exciting finale I thought it would be.

ARC Book Review: All-American Muslim Girl by Nadine Jolie Courtney

Book: All-American Muslim Girl by Nadine Jolie Courtney

Expected Publication Is November 12, 2019 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux|Expected Number Of Pages Is 256

Where I Got It: I received an e-ARC from netgalley.com in exchange for a fair and honest review

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Allie Abraham has it all going for her—she’s a straight-A student, with good friends and a close-knit family, and she’s dating cute, popular, and sweet Wells Henderson. One problem: Wells’s father is Jack Henderson, America’s most famous conservative shock jock…and Allie hasn’t told Wells that her family is Muslim. It’s not like Allie’s religion is a secret, exactly. It’s just that her parents don’t practice and raised her to keep her Islamic heritage to herself. But as Allie witnesses ever-growing Islamophobia in her small town and across the nation, she begins to embrace her faith—studying it, practicing it, and facing hatred and misunderstanding for it. Who is Allie, if she sheds the façade of the “perfect” all-American girl? What does it mean to be a “Good Muslim?” And can a Muslim girl in America ever truly fit in?

ALL-AMERICAN MUSLIM GIRL is a relevant, relatable story of being caught between two worlds, and the struggles and hard-won joys of finding your place.

I really liked All-American Muslim Girl!  I loved Allie and she’s a great character.

Allie struggles a lot with faith and I love that we get to see her explore her faith.  Having to hide my faith and heritage because of how other people see it is something I will never have to experience.  Unfortunately, we live in a world where people are treated differently because of what they look like or what they believe, and Allie has to deal with that as well.  She recognizes she has a lot of privilege, and it was interesting to see her as she started to stand up to the Islamophobia she sees around her.

I loved Allie’s integrity and determination.  She was open to exploring while wanting to do the right thing.  I felt like we saw her change over the course of the book, and she went from hiding who she was to standing up for herself and others.  We see her figure out what she wants, even when things get a little bit different with both her dad and the people around her.

I loved the friendships Allie forms, and her family was great too.  I wish we saw more of her extended family because they seemed pretty awesome when we did see them.  I especially liked her parents, and I get why her dad is concerned.  Things were rough between them for a while, but hopefully, they’ll be able to work it out.  I really think they will, because they have a pretty good relationship.

Accepting who you are and finding your own path were really strong and great messages in the book.  And even within different groups, you see a wide range of beliefs, which was nice.  I liked that her study group had different takes and relationships with Islam, and the author does a great job at showing how different a group of people can be.  I know it may be simple and maybe even a little bit obvious.  But she really does do a wonderful job at showing how different the girls are.

This book is a great read and I definitely recommend it!

My Rating: 4 stars.  I really liked All-American Muslim Girl and it’s worth reading!  It has great characters and a great story.

ARC Book Review: Find Me Their Bones by Sara Wolf

Book: Find Me Their Bones by Sara Wolf

Expected Publication Is November 5, 2019 by Entangled Teen|Expected Number Of Pages: 400 pages

Where I Got It: I received an advanced reader copy from netgalley.com in exchange for a fair and honest review

Series: Bring Me Their Hearts #2

Genre: YA Fantasy

No one can save her.

In order to protect Prince Lucien d’Malvane’s heart, Zera had to betray him. Now, he hates the sight of her. Trapped in Cavanos as a prisoner of the king, she awaits the inevitable moment her witch severs their magical connection and finally ends her life.

But fate isn’t ready to give her up just yet.

With freedom coming from the most unlikely of sources, Zera is given a second chance at life as a Heartless. But it comes with a terrible price. As the king mobilizes his army to march against the witches, Zera must tame an elusive and deadly valkerax trapped in the tunnels underneath the city if she wants to regain her humanity.

Winning over a bloodthirsty valkerax? Hard. Winning back her friends before war breaks out? A little harder.

But a Heartless winning back Prince Lucien’s heart?

The hardest thing she’s ever done.

I really liked Find Me Their Bones!  I’ve been looking forward to reading this book, especially with how the first book ended.  I really wanted to know what happened.

We learn a lot more about Veria, and I’m glad we did.  She had a really interesting story, and it was nice to learn so much more about this character we’ve only heard about.  Getting her backstory was a really good thing for this book, because I felt like things started to fall into place.

Find Me Their Bones picks up right where Bring Me Their Hearts left off.  There is no gap in time between the ending of the first book and the beginning of this one, and that made me happy because I was pretty desperate to know what happened.  Things definitely changed for Zera and Lucien but there’s a lot going on for all the characters.

Zera is still her snarky self, though I loved the moments with Yorl and with the valkerax.  I loved the concept of true names.  Granted, the idea of true names isn’t unique to this book, but I loved how it was used.  Names really do have power, and it makes me wonder if it was something specific to this book or if we’ll see it again in the next book.

The mythology gets an added dimension in this book, and I loved what it added to Zera’s world.  There is so much more to this world than I ever thought possible, and I’m glad we saw more of it in this book.  I hope the world gets a little bit bigger in the next book, but if the next one is the last one, then I don’t know how much more we’ll see since things need to get resolved.  Still, I feel like what we learn in this book moves the story forward, and I’m definitely interested to see how everything gets wrapped up.

There’s a lot of twists and turns and I’m having a hard time talking about this book without giving anything away.  I am glad I read it and it was interesting, from start to finish.

4 stars.  I really liked Find Me Their Bones, and I can’t wait to read the next book!

ARC Book Review: Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw

Book: Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw

Expected Publication is November 5, 2019 by Simon Pulse|Expected Number Of Pages: 320

Where I Got It: I received an advanced reader copy from netgalley.com in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Series: None

Genre: YA Fantasy

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Wicked Deep comes a haunting romance set deep in the magical snow-covered forest, where the appearance of a mysterious boy unearths secrets that awakens the enchanted, but angry, woods.

Be careful of the dark, dark wood . . .

Especially the woods surrounding the town of Fir Haven. Some say these woods are magical. Haunted, even.

Rumored to be a witch, only Nora Walker knows the truth. She and the Walker women before her have always shared a special connection with the woods. And it’s this special connection that leads Nora to Oliver Huntsman—the same boy who disappeared from the Camp for Wayward Boys weeks ago—and in the middle of the worst snowstorm in years. He should be dead, but here he is alive, and left in the woods with no memory of the time he’d been missing.

But Nora can feel an uneasy shift in the woods at Oliver’s presence. And it’s not too long after that Nora realizes she has no choice but to unearth the truth behind how the boy she has come to care so deeply about survived his time in the forest, and what led him there in the first place. What Nora doesn’t know, though, is that Oliver has secrets of his own—secrets he’ll do anything to keep buried, because as it turns out, he wasn’t the only one to have gone missing on that fateful night all those weeks ago.

I really enjoyed The Wicked Deep when I read it around a year ago, and I’ve been looking forward to read Winterwood for quite a while.  I liked it but not as much as I thought I would.

I really liked the atmosphere.  There’s something quiet, creepy and isolating about the woods and the houses that are nearby.  With the snowstorm, and not being able to leave, it felt suffocating.  Gothic comes to mind, and there were times when I forgot that this book wasn’t set decades ago, but was set in our present.  Something about the woods and lake felt so old.

The setting is as much as a character as the actual people we see.  I’m amazed Ernshaw was able to do it, and do it well but this book was the perfect book to read this time of year.

I knew something was going on with Oliver but I wasn’t sure what it was.  You think you know what happened, but you really don’t.  Unless you’re better at guessing and figuring things out than I am, which is possible.  In all honesty, I’m not sure how I feel about him.

I don’t have strong feelings either way, and I honestly couldn’t tell you much about him.  Even though he does narrate part of the book, not a lot stands out.  You do see him struggle with telling Nora about what happened the night that led him to being in the woods, and seeing the mystery unravel was interesting but I wasn’t super-interested in that part of the book.

Don’t get me wrong, I was interested in unraveling the mystery of Oliver but it wasn’t what kept me reading.

What kept me reading was the magic and the forest.  Nora’s family had quite the history, and I loved seeing the sections of the book that described someone in her family.  I was wondering if Nora had anything magical, and it turned out she did, but it’s not something we see until the end of the book.  I was surprised by her abilities, and it makes me wonder why we didn’t see it before.  But maybe there wasn’t a need for her ability to make an appearance until the events of this book.

Some things were repetitive- like how weird people thought her family was, and how her mom didn’t acknowledge they were witches.  It didn’t detract from the book, but it did get tiring to hear it throughout the book.

3 stars.  Winterwood is definitely slow-paced, and not a lot happens in terms of plot, but the atmosphere and the setting were amazing.

Book Review: Slay by Brittney Morris

Book: Slay by Brittney Morris

Published September 2019 by Simon Pulse|323 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: None

Genre: YA

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 loved Slay!  I randomly picked it up at Mysterious Galaxy one day because it sounded really interesting, and the title got my attention.  I was glad I did, because it’s a great book!

I loved Kiera, and you could tell how much the game meant to her.  You see her deal with the guilt she feels over a dispute that ends in someone being murdered, and how people see it as racist and violent because people see it as anti-white.  She didn’t have the best experiences playing video games, and Slay was a safe place for her and other people of color.

I’m not a huge video game person, but I thought Slay sounded like an amazing game, and I loved what we saw of the game.  It really made me wish we spent more time in the game.  I also loved seeing how supportive people were of Kiera and the game after it hit mainstream news.  While the book is mostly told from Kiera’s perspective, we also see a few chapters from Cicada’s point-of-view, as well as chapters from people who play Slay.  I loved seeing how much the game meant to them too, and you could tell that it was a really great community of people who love gaming.  We all need a space where we can be ourselves, and I loved that Slay was that safe space for so many people.

I loved the relationship Kiera had with her sister and with Cicada.  Both were great characters, but in particular, I really liked Cicada.  It seems like she and Kiera have a great friendship, and I hope it stays that way long after the book is over.

I didn’t like Malcolm at all- the way he went into Kiera’s game and threatened to sue, and how he revealed her as the creator of Slay.  Not to mention he threatened her and told people to go after her.  It just wasn’t cool, and I honestly think she deserves better than that.

Something that didn’t surprise me but was so frustrating to read was how people assumed the creator of the game was a guy.  Slay was something that Kiera and Cicada worked so hard on, and it just made me sad and angry that there’s this assumption that females can’t code or create video games.  And while this was in the acknowledgements, and not the book itself, I loved that Morris acknowledged the girls in STEM and black gamers who want a safe place to play.  That really shone throughout the book, and it really felt like this book is for them.  Slay is an amazing book, and I think everyone should read it but I really felt like Morris wrote this book with a specific audience in mind.

5 stars.  Slay is an amazing book, and I’m glad I read it!