SLAY by Brittney Morris
My rating: five stars
Goodreads Summary: 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 actually received an ARC of SLAY at Book Con in New York. I am so thankful that I was able to receive this, and just in case anyone is nervous about seeing a review for it, this review will be spoiler free – as all of my reviews are.
Likes: I honestly love books that speak about topics that can sometimes make people nervous to talk about. This book in particular talks about racism and about the feeling of not fitting in anywhere. I love how well this book speaks about these two topics. Though I cannot relate to the exact situation that Kiera is going through, I can relate to not feeling completely welcome by people. The author really puts the reader in Kiera’s shoes to show how she feels. Going to a primarily white school really affects Kiera’s everyday life – in positive and negative ways. The beauty of her online game SLAY and how it makes her feel at home and where she can truly show who she is is inspiring. I have a friend who went to a primarily white school while being black and while reading this book, the things that Kiera goes through are some of the exact things my friend went through. I just love how real this story is! I am also a gamer so I love that Kiera expresses her emotions and shows her true self through gaming. I can really connect with her through that and honestly, her game sounds amazing! Also, her boyfriend… I honestly did not like her boyfriend at all but I thought it was brave of the author to show how Kiera wasn’t only receiving negative reactions from the white community but also from black people that were close to her heart. It shows how there are so many different ways that people celebrate being black and so many ways that people think being black should look like. It was very tenacious of Brittney and I respect her so much for that.
Dislikes: I honestly don’t have any dislikes for the book. I love the story line, the characters, the writing style, everything about it. I don’t like the boyfriend Malcolm but there was definitely a purpose to his character and he was used in a clever way.
I rated SLAY five out of five stars because it was honestly brilliant. There were so many different world views in this book and they were displayed so beautifully. It showed insecurities in a multitude of forms and it showed how characters overcame those insecurities. The story had character growth that made me respect the characters so much. I would read this story again and again and would recommend it to everyone!