I won an Advance Reader Copy of Slay from the Bibliophagist and Page to Page giveaway, which I talked about last month. This was my top choice for the giveaway, so I’m super happy I got it. I read it while I was in vacation in Haiti last month. Remember this is an ARC, so some things may have changed in the final version.
Slay was such a fun read, which is kind of ironic considering how uninterested I was with the Virtual Reality Theme Thursday. Fun fact: these pictures were taken two days before a hurricane.
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 is a more realistic take on the world of gaming. Gaming has literally become a career for some people, yet a lot of games are exclusionary in nature. Slay creates a safe space for black gamers to play without fear of discrimination. They can play without the fear of not fitting in.
Kiera was such a great main character. Her situation felt so plausible and the actions she took made sense. Having characters that feel real is a big thing for me and Slay delivered on that really well.
The pacing was nice. With stories like these, I’m always worried the synopsis has revealed too much. Then, that just leads me waiting for what’s been promised to happen, like when I read Love, Hate, & Other Filters.
Then again, things can happen way too quickly without giving us the chance to connect to the story, like when I (tried to) read Tyler Johnson Was Here.
Slay does neither of those things. We get to know Kiera, Slay, and some of the other main characters. Then we’re sucked into the happenings of the story. The pacing was perfect.
The switch in POVs may not be for everyone, but I liked it. Most of the story takes place from Kiera’s POV but there are several switches throughout the novel. It helped give the story more context and, in turn, depth.
I enjoyed Brittney Morris’ writing syle. It wasn’t super flowy like what I’m used to, but I felt like I was in the characters’ heads. Morris is pretty straightforward but also quite thorough.
The Not so Good
Malcom seemed like a textbook hotep from the minute he was introduced. I totally agreed with Stephanie’s comments about him. He was definitely my least favorite character.
I wish we heard more about the new Beta Beta Psi initiate, Jazmin. She was introduced for a minute but we never even got dialogue from her.
All in All
I’m so happy I received this ARC of Slay from the giveaway. The representation of black people of different shades, ethnic backgrounds, and ways of life was beautiful. I’d love to see a spin off or companion novel with some of these characters. 10/10 would recommend.