We both had Slay by Brittney Morris on our TBR and decided it was time to pick it up! The story has a gamer aspect we’re both interested in and the racism aspect makes this a very important read. But was it also an enjoyable read? Let’s take a look at our thoughts!
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?
Slay by Brittney Morris
Published by Simon Pulse on 24/09/2019
As we duel, as we chat, there’s an understanding that “your black is not my black” and “your weird is not my weird” and “your beautiful is not my beautiful,” and that’s okay. It’ brings tears to my eyes if I think about it too long.
Candyce I love how bright the colors are on this cover! The title really jumps out at you and the effects around the model look really cool. Even though I’m not a fan of people on covers, this one works really well and in my eyes fits Slay really well!
Isabelle The picture of the cover doesn’t convey it very well but the cover has a really cool effect. It looks like there’s some kind of computer code on the cover and that fits the story incredibly well. The colors on the cover are right up my alley and even though we have a person on the cover I still quite like it!
All I ever wanted to do was escape into this magical world where for once I don’t have to act a certain way because I’m Black, and where I don’t have to answer certain questions because I’m the Black authority in the room, and where if I do something that’s not stereotypically Black, I’m different.
Candyce It’s been a few days since I finished reading Slay and I’m still having a hard time putting my thoughts into words. When I read the synopsis I knew I needed this book in my life. That being said, I never expected it to grab me as much as it did. Isabelle and I did a buddyread and quickly realized this isn’t a book you can only read a few chapters at a time. Slay makes you want to keep on reading. At a certain point I couldn’t stop. Even though the ending is pretty wrapped up, I would not complain about getting more of these amazing characters.
I have to start by talking about the gaming aspect in Slay. Of course, there are plenty of female gamers, but they’re not often portrayed in books. Even when rumors start flying about who could’ve made Slay, it’s automatically assumed that a male was behind everything. I loved reading a book with such a talented female lead that besides loving to game, actually built her own world from scratch! Besides that, I loved the idea of this game and how all of the cards had a special meaning.
No one knows Kiera created this game, but when a kid is killed over in game currency, things blow up. I have to say that this part of the book was also really emotional. It was interesting to see how the world reacted and how it affected Kiera. My heart hurt for her, but at the same time I was amazed by how strong she was! On the other side, a big heated discussion started after that death.
Slay is only for Black people and the discussion rises if this game is racist. I learned a lot by the way Brittney put this on paper. I’m not a gamer, so I honestly had no idea how excluded some people are from this community. As a white person, it’s not something I can relate to at all, but I loved all of the points the author raised during this discussion. It really got me thinking and I think this book fits the current time in our world.
This book made think about a lot of the subjects that were talked about in this book. Racism is something that needs to be banned from the world, but it’s small things that can affect people without even realizing. Certain questions or actions that can hurt someone, because if you’re a different race there are certain things you just won’t understand. This author mixed this aspect in the story so well, it still has me thinking!
Kiera is such an amazing character. She’s strong, smart, loyal, creative and so kind. It was amazing seeing her stand up for herself as the book went on. She fought for what she believed in! I loved her sister as well. Steph talks a mile a minute, but again, she stood up for what she believed in. It’s an amazing thing to see. I realy would’ve loved to see a little bit more of Cicada. Another strong character who has a lot to say.
One of my other favorite parts of this book were the chapters we got from a different POV. From a person that played Slay and I liked reading their experiences. I know some readers didn’t like these chapters, but it made me get the idea of how connected and invested people were in this game!
Last but not least, I want to talk about the game itself. My only issue with this is that no matter how talented these two teenage girls are, I don’t think it would’ve been possible for them to run the game all by themselves, while going to school. Even with putting allowance, job money and sponsors, I can’t imagine that this game was cheap. That being said, I loved the concept of this game. The way the author described everything made me feel like I was there with the characters. I’m sure a lot of people would play this game if it actually existed.
Brittney Morris is definitely an author I plan on keeping an eye on. Slay was amazing and I don’t think I’ll forget about it anytime soon. I can’t wait for her new book next year!
quoted Elie Wiesel in my Boston University essay, and it’s coming back up with a vengeance, like a bad case of heartburn: “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
Isabelle It’s going to be hard to convey how much I love this book. Candyce and I made a schedule for our buddyread but pretty quickly I had more and more trouble putting the book down. And soon I started to read the chapters for the next day, and shortly after that I just finished the whole book haha. I simply couldn’t put it down!
I was very interested in the gaming aspect of the book and while there were some minor details that were a bit off (how the hell did they pay for all that?!) I loved that game. The concept sounded amazing and I think a game around Black excellence would be so cool. I really enjoyed all the parts were we got to focus on the game.
Kiera developed the game but does so anonymously, when a kid get’s killed over something in the game everyone wants to know who the developer is. The game comes to light and this brings really interesting discussions with it. Since the game is only for Black people, white people say the game is racist. I didn’t know the gaming community is so racist that Black people would feel a necessity for a space like this. And I think Brittney wrote the story in such a way that it all became very clear to me.
Like I said, there are a lot of interesting discussions going on in this book. I think they were written in such a way that white people could really grab what was being said and that we could learn a lot from this wonderful story.
We get a couple of chapters from different POV’s and I absolutely adored those! It was amazing to look at what other people were going through and I actually wanted to know more about basically everyone haha. But it didn’t take away from the other characters. I’ve read some reviews that found the characters flat and boring and I couldn’t agree less. No, these aren’t the most developed characters ever but they all had something going on and to me they felt very real.
That doesn’t mean I liked all of them haha. There were a couple of incredibly annoying characters haha. I did really like Kiera and her sister. And the two white characters we see often were quite interesting, they made me question some of my own thoughts and actions. When you see certain things written down like this, it makes you think! Or at least, it made me think ;).
Brittney has a wonderful writing style and I can’t help but gush about this book. I’m sure this book will make it to my favorite reads of the year and I can’t wait for Brittney’s next book. This was such an important read and I hope it was relatable and extremely enjoyable for Black readers. I would highly recommend this book, I think there’s something there for everyone. Apart from the important discussions this was also just a very enjoyable story!
Have you read Slay? What did you think about it? And do you know of any similar reads? Let us know in the comments! We love to talk to you <3.