AUTHOR: Brittney Morris
GENRE: Young Adult Contemporary Fiction
REVIEWER: Olivia Clinckers

Kiera Johnson is a 17-year old honours student at Jefferson Academy, where she is one of only a few black kids. At home she leads a completely different life from school – she joins thousands of black gamers who compete in duels as Nubian characters in an online role-playing game called SLAY. No one knows that she created this game in which she goes by the name of Emerald. Kiera is put in a dangerous situation when a young boy is murdered over a disagreement in SLAY and the game is labelled as a racist and violent. Kiera must make difficult decisions and keep her identity secret from the world.

Kiera’s boyfriend Malcom has extremely strong views on what black people should do and talk about: “Black Queens” need to stay with their “Kings”, and to like or marry a white person is betrayal. Kiera hasn’t told him about the game; he would be horrified that she plays it, let alone created it! An anonymous player of the game starts messaging Kiera and tells her that they will sue her for being racist and discriminatory.

Kiera decides to duel them, and the prize for her winning is for him drop the case and to leave the game. If he wins, he can take ownership of the game. The duel is a crucial moment in the book, and I was holding my breath the whole time!

Kiera created SLAY so she and other Black people would have a safe space where they would not feel like a minority and could be themselves without judgement. One of the things that I love most about this book is the portrayal of Kiera’s: she is fearless, confident and not afraid to stand her ground. I also love seeing Kiera grow as a character, learning to navigate this world where “black” is the minority. I love the representation of diversity in this book. There need to be more novels like this!

Brittney Morris very tactfully explores issues that black people experience and discusses topics that most people don’t think to talk about in a thoughtful way. Through reading this book I have learned a lot and I understand the world better now. I have been given an insight into the discrimination and prejudice that exists in the world.

Overall, I love this book and recommend it to anyone aged 13 and over – and stay tuned because SLAY is going to be turned into a movie!

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