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?
I received this book from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
Slay is just amazing. For a start the gaming and duelling are a nice addition to the core storyline that brings fun and high octane moments. And the main story really is fantastic. I love the way we get to see the black community – the way expectations and cultures mesh is lovely, but we also get to see when they clash in a way that is sadly rare. As this book proves – there should be no one right or wrong answer. And the game itself does sound huge fun.
I love Keira and Clare, and their care for their world was so clear. I did feel a little uncertain about the exclusivity element, but I definitely understood Keira’s point of view on it.
Malcolm was a harder character for me to like throughout, especially as the story goes on, but he seems to have a very specific view of how Keira should be and what she should do, which I really didn’t love.
Honestly this feels like a celebration of a book, despite the tough subjects touched on, and I am going to be passing my physical arc of the book on to an own voices reader. 💙💙
Buy Slay from Amazon UK.