YA Review: Slay

Title: Slay
Author: Brittney Morris

Seventeen-year-old Kiera has top grades, a great boyfriend – and Slay, a massively popular online game that she coded herself. While her friends and family know all about the grades, as well as her boyfriend and their plan to go to college together, no one in her real life knows about the game. She has an in-game friend who helps her to manage and develop the game-play, but she hides her online identity from everyone else in her life.

And there’s a twist. Slay is a role-playing duelling game with an extensive virtual world, designed to be a celebration of Black culture. Kiera’s own experiences of racial abuse and systemic racism in other online environments inspired her to create a safe space for Black gamers. Entry is by invitation, intended only for Black players around the world – and Slay has half a million of them.

When a young player is murdered for his in-game currency, everything Kiera has built begins to fall apart. There are threats of lawsuits against Slay, and when the story hits the news, Kiera finds herself accused of racism for excluding non-Black players from her game. The more Slay is in the headlines, the more certain she is that she must hide her involvement from everyone she knows.

I loved this book. I loved the joyous celebration of Black culture, in everything from the duelling cards to the players’ costumes and the virtual environment Kiera built. I loved the central characters, and their contrasting views on how to be Black and proud in the USA today. And I loved Kiera – her intelligence, her friendships, and her commitment to the game that brought so many people together. I followed her through the highs and lows of the story, feeling her heartbreak at the attacks on her creation, and punching the air with her victories. The in-game duelling scenes were exciting, and the descriptions of the players and the settings were wonderful. As the threats closed in, I couldn’t put the book down – and I couldn’t guess what would happen next.

I’m giving a very well-deserved five stars for this exciting and inspiring YA novel. Highly recommended!

Have you read Slay? What did you think of the story? And what about Kiera – were you on her side? Click through to the full blog to access the comments section, and share your thoughts! No spoilers, though – you can post those on GoodReads!

Review cross-posted to GoodReads.

Please keep your comments YA appropriate. Be patient! We want to hear from you, but comments are moderated, and may take some time to appear.