Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary
Published: September 24, 2019 by: Simon and Schuster
Rating: 4/5 stars
CW: abusive relationship, racism, off-page murder, killing within a video game
Kiera Johnson is a teen passionate about STEM. When she's at school she's an honours student and math tutor. When she's at home, she is the anonymous developer of SLAY, an online role-playing card game that has players take on the personas of famous Black people throughout history. The game is only available to Black people, and Kiera prides herself in giving Black gamers a safe space where they can be unapologetically Black. But, when a troll infiltrates the game, claiming that SLAY "excludes white people," Kiera and the other players suddenly have their safety threatened. Then, a teen is murdered in a dispute over the game. Suddenly Kiera has to grapple with revealing herself as the creator of the game, putting her safety in jeopardy, or staying silent, while racists continue to take over the game that she loves.
This novel was a thrilling, nail-biting, tense read! I was so impressed by how the author was able to bring in almost a science-fiction tone to a book that is very much in a real-life setting. Kiera was such a savvy, smart individual, and I loved reading about a Black girl who is in STEM. I could definitely see myself reading more of Brittney Morris' books.
I loved how Morris was able to create tension in this novel. I wasn't expecting how shocking this book would be, and I certainly wasn't expecting the twists and turns it would take me on. I found myself almost gasping out loud at parts, because Kiera and the other gamers of SLAY go through so much, and I definitely did not see any of the big reveals coming. I thought this was such a thrilling novel but ultimately I was happy with how it ended.
I also loved how this book uniquely explored the topic of white people taking over Black spaces. White people seem to feel so threatened by Black people having safe spaces to express themselves. White people always feel the need to insert themselves into spaces that they have no right to. This book explores this topic, but in the context of a video game, which was really well-thought out. I enjoyed how the game worked and I loved how it brought in figures from Black history.
I will say, because I am not a gamer, I was more interested in how the game explored Black history than the game itself. I don't really know much about game theory or STEM, so I can't say that those topics really interested me. However, if you love gaming, you will find these moments even more intriguing. From what I know about gaming I know that a lot of gaming culture can be very racist, so I think gamers could benefit from diverse stories such as these.
This book does deal with some tough topics. There is murder both in the game and in real-life, so please take care of yourself when reading this. But overall, I loved how this story ended. It was a really unique exploration of racism through the lense of a Black girl in STEM. I would say this is a must-read for gamers.
Have you read SLAY? What did you think?
Emily @ Paperback Princess