A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2019!
“Gripping and timely.” —People
“The YA debut we’re most excited for this year.” —Entertainment Weekly
“A book that knocks you off your feet while dropping the kind of knowledge that’ll keep you down for the count. Prepare to BE slain.” —Nic Stone, New York Times bestselling author of Dear Martin and Odd One Out
Ready Player One meets The Hate U Give in this dynamite debut novel that follows a fierce teen game developer as she battles a real-life troll intent on ruining the Black Panther–inspired video game she created and the safe community it represents for Black gamers.
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?
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Brittney Morris’ buzzed-about debut reckons with forces that feel very timely, exploring the intersections between gaming culture, violence, and race. Teenager Kiera Johnson secretly develops a popular Black Panther–esque video game that becomes a lightning rod for controversy when a player is murdered in real life. Morris, along with her characters, uses this platform to dive into loaded questions but the story is never short of gripping. Told through the eyes of Morris’ sharp characters, SLAY doesn’t get bogged down by its big themes and innovative plot—it’s a clever and fearless novel.
Morris's not-to-be-missed YA debut explores gaming culture and the diversity of the African diaspora. When black teen Kiera Johnson creates a virtual reality game called SLAY as a safe space for black gamers, she knows she must keep her identity as its developer secret. Her black boyfriend, Malcolm, insists that video games are "a distraction promoted by white society," her parents will disapprove of her embracing certain aspects of black culture, and the students at her predominantly white school just won't understand what a game by and for black people really means. But when the massively popular game's existence is threatened after a dispute results in a player's murder and the media stirs controversy, a new player emerges, forcing Kiera to wager the game's control in a duel to maintain her secret identity and avoid a discrimination lawsuit. This tightly written novel will offer an eye-opening take for many readers and speak to teens of color who are familiar with the exhaustion of struggling to feel at home in a largely white society. Told from Kiera's point of view with peeks into the minds of other characters, and peppered with easily accessible references to black culture, teens and adults alike will race through every page, relating to the importance of online friends, sharing Kiera's desire to make the world a better place, and discovering that blackness is impossible to define. Ages 12 up.)\n
This is an amazing book for anyone who wants a good story
Absolutely amazing!!!!! There are not enough words to express how much I love this book. As I’m writing this I’m overcome with so much emotion. Brittney did such an amazing job at bringing the characters to life and pulling me in. I felt like I was in the story. I initially bought the ebook and then bought the audiobook which just made the experience even better. Hearing the different characters voices and the build up of anticipation was thrilling! There were moments where I was literally on the edge of my seat waiting for what was to come. This book was amazing!!! Delving into the different types of Black excellence warmed my heart! It transcends over so many facets of life. Beyond college or education level which a lot of people tend to base Black excellence on. I am thoroughly pleased and will definitely be buying a few more copies to give to others. I know my little sister will love this book. Brittney killed me when I found out who Dred was! I was screaming when I finally realized it!!! That plot twist was everything. This book was so beautifully written and made me so proud to be black!!! I am hoping for a sequel in the future!!! Definitely a 10/10!!!