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SLAY
Cover of SLAY
SLAY
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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?
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?
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  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
  • Lexile:
    930
  • Interest Level:
  • Text Difficulty:
    4 - 6

Recommended for you

About the Author-
  • Brittney Morris is the author of SLAY. She is also the founder and former president of the Boston University Creative Writing Club. She holds a BA in economics. Brittney spends her spare time playing video games, slaying at DDR, and enjoying the Seattle rain from her apartment. She lives with her husband, Steven, who would rather enjoy the rain from a campsite in the woods because he hasn't played enough horror games. You can find her online at AuthorBrittneyMorris.com and on Twitter or Instagram @BrittneyMMorris.

Reviews-
  • School Library Journal

    July 1, 2019

    Gr 7 Up-Kiera Johnson is a 17-year-old African American girl attending a predominately white high school. She tries to fit in by keeping her head down and her grades up. However, her classmates often see her as a reluctant spokesperson for an entire race of people. Her sister and boyfriend want her to be more combative, and her mother wants her to be more docile. Kiera's best friend, Harper, often unwittingly adds fuel to the fire by asking pointed race-based questions of her own. The mental gymnastics involved in constantly having to code switch to fit in with everyone else's idea of black womanhood is exhausting for Kiera. In an effort to keep her sanity, she secretly creates an exclusive online role-playing game called Slay. Characters duel using elaborately designed cards that highlight the diversity of the black experience. Kiera and her moderator, Cicada, manage to hide their identities while providing a much-needed respite for the black gaming community. Kiera's carefully constructed facade is threatened when one of the players of Slay is murdered. Now Kiera has to decide how far she's willing to go to protect the oasis she created for her community. VERDICT This book adds another layer to the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo narrative. Readers are invited to learn about the black experience in game culture through a compelling new lens. Exploring different versions of the African American experience, this is an important title for public and school libraries.-Desiree Thomas, Worthington Library, OH

    Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from July 8, 2019
    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. Agent: Quressa Robinson, the Nelson Literary Agency.

  • Kirkus

    July 15, 2019
    A high school senior secretly creates a massively multiplayer online role-playing game dedicated to black culture but is attacked in mainstream media after a player is murdered. Frustrated by the rampant racism in the online multiplayer game universe and exhausted by having to be the "voice of Blackness" at her majority white high school, honors student Kiera creates SLAY--a MMORPG for black gamers. SLAY promotes black excellence from across the African diaspora as players go head-to-head in matches grounded in black culture. Although Kiera is proud of the game and the safe space it has become for hundreds of thousands of participants, she keeps her identity as lead developer a secret from everyone, including her black boyfriend, Malcolm, who believes video games are a tactic on the part of white people to undermine black men and hold them back from success. When a dispute in SLAY spills into the real world and a teen is murdered, the media discovers the underground game and cries racism. Kiera has to fight to protect not only her identity, but the online community she has developed. Despite some one-dimensional characters, especially Kiera's parents, debut author Morris does a fantastic job of showing diversity within the black community. Nongamers might get bogged down in the minutiae of the game play, but the effort is well worth it. Gamers and black activists alike will be ready to SLAY all day. (Fiction. 13-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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    Simon Pulse
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