Saturday 25 July 2020

Review: Slay by Brittney Morris

Black Panther meets Ready Player One. A fierce teen game developer 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 a college student, and one of the only black kids at Jefferson Academy. By night, she joins hundreds of thousands of black gamers who duel worldwide in the secret online role-playing card game, SLAY.
No one knows Kiera is the game developer - not even her boyfriend, Malcolm. But when a teen in Kansas City is murdered over a dispute in the SLAY world, the media labels it an exclusionist, racist hub for thugs.
With threats coming from both inside and outside the game, Kiera must fight to save the safe space she's created. But can she protect SLAY without losing herself?

Review: I absolutely loved this book and I don't know why it took me so long to read. I think perhaps I was scared of the hype and so stayed away until more people had had time to voice their opinions on this one. I was worried I would struggle to understand the video game world of Slay because I struggle with reading fantasy and it took me a couple of goes to enjoy all that Black Panther had to offer but I had no issues immersing myself in the world of Slay and I LOVED all that it had to offer. 

I really got along with Kiera as a character. She has so much of the world on her shoulders because she is a teen applying to colleges and trying to get through senior year but also because she is a strong black woman dealing with all that the world throws at her because of her race and her family. I really love that through Kiera this book explores the experience of white friends expecting you to explain and be representative of all Black people. We also get to explore the problems associated with rigid ideas about what Black excellence should look like. Toxic masculinity and cultural identity is explored so well through Kiera and her friends. 

Kiera creates Slay to have a safe space for black gamers after experiencing racism in the gaming community but whether that is inherently racist or not is brought up when the mainstream media discovers the game. This throws up a lot of issues for the reader as well as for Kiera and her friends and made me ask a lot of questions for sure. I wholeheartedly loved the idea of Slay. The cards involved in the game celebrate and highlight black culture and I also love that it opens up an international world. 

Overall this book was such a delight to read and I can highly recommend it to anyone. It is thematically rich, well paced and brings up so many important questions for readers today no matter what your cultural background. It's a must read. 

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

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