Synopsis – Goodreads
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?
The Great: Kiera Johnson has quickly become one of my favorite characters. She is smart, fierce and uncertain of her place in the world. She’s constantly in a battle between code-switching at school and embracing her blackness everywhere else. Its because of this inner turmoil that Kiera creates the wonderful gaming world, Slay. A place where everyone, across the Black Diaspora can play in peace and comfortably while simultaneously praising their blackness.
Slay has such amazing game world-building. Thanks to Slay and the author, Brittney Morris, I understand some of the inner workings/modules when creating an MMPORG (Massively-Multi-player Online Role-Playing Game.) Kiera Johnson and her co-game moderator create detailed regions and arenas. There are also really cool battle cards that highlight black excellence. I mean I seriously wish I had a game like this back when I was an avid gamer!
I also enjoyed the sibling relationship between Kiera and her younger sister Steph. Kiera spends alot of time in her head worried about her core people finding out that she created this game throughout the story. However, Steph knowingly and unknowingly completely supports her sister. I’m seriously a sucker for good sibling relationships.
The Good: Morris takes diversity and inclusion to a whole new level. Across socio-economic status, gender, as well as age differences, Morris gave multiple personalities and identifiers a voice. It was refreshing to see that the focus of the story wasn’t solely based on racial inequality (though important.)
I also liked the development of the side characters, Wyatt and Harper. Since this is a non-spoiler review, I won’t go into too many details lol
The not-so Good: From beginning to end I could not stand Kiera’s boyfriend Malcolm. In fact, my view of him is much like Steph’s (Kiera’s younger sister). Malcolm is pro-black and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! Celebrate us every way you can. But Malcolm is sexist, prejudice and entirely way to arrogant for my taste. However, thats not wholly why he’s in my not-so good section. I really didn’t like Malcolm’s character development at all. Specifically towards the end. There are actions and decisions he makes, that for me seemed way to extreme, even for him. And it sort of left a bad taste in my mouth.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Slay! I highly recommend it for fans of Angie Thomas and Nic Stone and lovers of YA Contemporary.