, , , , ,


Thanks to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: September 24th, 2019

336 Pages

Synopsis: By day, seventeen-year-old Kiera Johnson is an honors student, 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 is murdered in Kansas City is murdered over a dispute in The SLAY world, news of the game reaches the 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? 

As a 54-year-old white woman, I’m obviously not the target audience for a book like Slay, but even so, I really enjoyed this and think it entirely lives up to the hype surrounding it. I absolutely adored Kiera and I think many teens will relate to her. She’s someone who knows who she is, yet is still caught between two worlds, and isn’t comfortable with being forced by others into representing the wider black culture. This is behind her creation of the massive online game Slay where she and other players can feel comfortable being themselves. 

The world of Slay is gorgeously written and the fight scenes are particularly phenomenal. Morris does an exceptional job at balancing this virtual world, with the real world issues that Kiera is encountering. I think it’s brilliantly done and the only reason I’m not giving this 5 stars is because I think some of the other characters, particularly Kiera’s parents and boyfriend could have been developed a little more. 

The story itself is timely yet utterly unique, which is another reason why in my opinion, Slayer is going to be one of the most talked about books of the Fall. Inspired by the movie Black Panther, Brittney Morris wrote this in eleven days. I know, right?! Morris was the first female African-American graduate of her high school, and the only African-American woman at the previous place where she worked. She says her background and interactions with the world are reflected in her fiction. 

“I got used to feeling out of place in a room full of people who don’t look like me, and shrinking myself down to something that’s ‘acceptable’ by everyone. I wrote Slay for black teens who live between worlds as I did, who feel pressure to be one version of themselves at work or school, and only get to be themselves among people who share their experiences.”

Slay is a fantastic book that I guarantee will hold wide appeal to its target audience and beyond. I’m already choosing my dream cast for the future film I’m sure will be coming. I highly recommend it to fans of Black Panther and Ready Player One.