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Slay



by
Brittney Morris

Edition
Hardcover edition
Publisher
Simon & Schuster
Imprint
Simon Pulse
ISBN
9781534445420

Awards and Honors
Publishers Weekly Best Books - 2019
NYPL Best Books - 2019
PEOPLE Best Books of Fall 2019
2020 Mathical Award Winner
2021 Alan Walden Book Award Finalist
POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
Sexual Content: Mild Sexual Content/Themes, Discrimination: Racial Insensitivity/Racism, Language: Strong Language, Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: Underage Use, Language: Racial or Ethnic Epithet/Slur, Violence: Domestic/Physical Abuse
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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?

POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
Sexual Content: Mild Sexual Content/Themes, Discrimination: Racial Insensitivity/Racism, Language: Strong Language, Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: Underage Use, Language: Racial or Ethnic Epithet/Slur, Violence: Domestic/Physical Abuse

Details

Format

Print

Page Count

336

Trim Size

8 1/4" x 5 1/2"

Dewey

F

AR

6: points 13

Lexile

930L

Genre

Fiction

Scholastic Reading Counts

0

JLG Release

Jan 2020

Book Genres

Mystery, Quick Reads, Realistic Fiction, Thriller

Topics

Video games. Fantasy games. Role playing. African Americans. Dating (social customs). High schools. Prejudice and racism.

Standard MARC Records

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Cover Art

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Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly*, Booklist*, Kirkus Reviews, The Horn Book Magazine

School Library Journal

Kiera Johnson is a 17-year-old African American girl attending a predominately white high school. She tries to fit in by keeping her head down and her grades up. However, her classmates often see her as a reluctant spokesperson for an entire race of people. Her sister and boyfriend want her to be more combative, and her mother wants her to be more docile. Kiera’s best friend, Harper, often unwittingly adds fuel to the fire by asking pointed race-based questions of her own. The mental gymnastics involved in constantly having to code switch to fit in with everyone else’s idea of black womanhood is exhausting for Kiera. In an effort to keep her sanity, she secretly creates an exclusive online role-playing game called Slay. Characters duel using elaborately designed cards that highlight the diversity of the black experience. Kiera and her moderator, Cicada, manage to hide their identities while providing a much-needed respite for the black gaming community. Kiera’s carefully constructed facade is threatened when one of the players of Slay is murdered. Now Kiera has to decide how far she’s willing to go to protect the oasis she created for her community. This book adds another layer to the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo narrative. Readers are invited to learn about the black experience in game culture through a compelling new lens. Exploring different versions of the African American experience, this is an important title for public and school libraries.

Horn Book

“By day, I’m an honors student at Jefferson Academy. At night, I turn into the Nubian goddess most people know as Emerald.” Seventeen-year-old narrator Kiera is not just a gamer; she is (secretly) the creator of the hugely popular multi¬player gaming community SLAY, which is rooted in Black culture and which she developed to “showcase how awesome we are as Black people, how multifaceted, resilient, and colorful we are.” When a troll disrupts SLAY—and an act of real-life violence follows—Kiera must investigate the events without losing herself or com¬promising her creation. Author Morris clearly understands this community, and her engagement with the topic goes beyond simply exploring race and prejudice online. She dissects the anatomy of gaming communities, unpacking the causes— and consequences—when, as too often, Black women create something the world tries to destroy. Recommended for teens who are gamers (across positionalities and platforms); for those who want to better understand online communities; for those who have ever created something that was misunderstood; and for anyone who hates gaming, because Kiera will have you challenging what it means to be a gamer. Kiera is so many of us Blerds; and Morris has truly captured the holistic experiences of many Black digital users.

Praise & Reviews

School Library Journal

Kiera Johnson is a 17-year-old African American girl attending a predominately white high school. She tries to fit in by keeping her head down and her grades up. However, her classmates often see her as a reluctant spokesperson for an entire race of people. Her sister and boyfriend want her to be more combative, and her mother wants her to be more docile. Kiera’s best friend, Harper, often unwittingly adds fuel to the fire by asking pointed race-based questions of her own. The mental gymnastics involved in constantly having to code switch to fit in with everyone else’s idea of black womanhood is exhausting for Kiera. In an effort to keep her sanity, she secretly creates an exclusive online role-playing game called Slay. Characters duel using elaborately designed cards that highlight the diversity of the black experience. Kiera and her moderator, Cicada, manage to hide their identities while providing a much-needed respite for the black gaming community. Kiera’s carefully constructed facade is threatened when one of the players of Slay is murdered. Now Kiera has to decide how far she’s willing to go to protect the oasis she created for her community. This book adds another layer to the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo narrative. Readers are invited to learn about the black experience in game culture through a compelling new lens. Exploring different versions of the African American experience, this is an important title for public and school libraries.

Horn Book

“By day, I’m an honors student at Jefferson Academy. At night, I turn into the Nubian goddess most people know as Emerald.” Seventeen-year-old narrator Kiera is not just a gamer; she is (secretly) the creator of the hugely popular multi¬player gaming community SLAY, which is rooted in Black culture and which she developed to “showcase how awesome we are as Black people, how multifaceted, resilient, and colorful we are.” When a troll disrupts SLAY—and an act of real-life violence follows—Kiera must investigate the events without losing herself or com¬promising her creation. Author Morris clearly understands this community, and her engagement with the topic goes beyond simply exploring race and prejudice online. She dissects the anatomy of gaming communities, unpacking the causes— and consequences—when, as too often, Black women create something the world tries to destroy. Recommended for teens who are gamers (across positionalities and platforms); for those who want to better understand online communities; for those who have ever created something that was misunderstood; and for anyone who hates gaming, because Kiera will have you challenging what it means to be a gamer. Kiera is so many of us Blerds; and Morris has truly captured the holistic experiences of many Black digital users.

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