Book: Slay by Brittney Morris
Published September 2019 by Simon Pulse|323 pages
Where I Got It: I own the hardcover
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!