Add Slay to your Goodreads TBR here:
Angus & Robertson:
Australian RRP: $17.99
Published on the 9th October, 2019 by Hodder Children’s Books.
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fiction, Science Fiction.
Page Count: 318
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
Sypnosis from Hachette Australia:
‘We are different ages, genders, tribes, tongues, and traditions … but tonight we all SLAY’
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?
Welcome to my tour stop for the AusYABloggers Review tour of Slay, hosted in conjunction with Hachette Australia and Date A Book, who provided me with a review copy of this book, all thoughts are my own.
Be sure to check out the other amazing review posts for the Slay tour, I have included the tour schedule post below:
Now, onto my review:
This is a tricky one to write, purely because I have ALOT of feelings about this book! On one hand, I loved it and when I was reading it I couldn’t get enough! Yet, another, the more I think about the racial aspects throughout this book, the more problematic it seems.
I should make this perfectly clear, I am all for equality! I detest discrimination of all kinds and I don’t think anyone has the right to judge anyone, especially on the basis of their skin colour, I mean, we are all human!
Now, I must admit that I’m a Caucasian woman who hasn’t ever had to face racial prejudice, but as a avid history enthusiast I know that people of colour have struggled based on the colour of their skin, and I definitely think that this sort of behaviour isn’t on at all.
So the premise of our main character, a sixteen year old female named Keira, who is the developer and pioneer behind Slay, an online RPG game which has taken the world by storm. Except, no one knows that it is Kiera herself that is the voice behind Slay.
I’m all for video games, of any sorts, truly. I love how Kiera has put every once of her being into this game, creating a place of acceptance and supposed safety for people of colour such as herself, I totally was in awe of the detail Keira had put into the game, the attention to detail when it came to the VR immersive experience…it felt like I was right there playing the game too, except..
In order to play Slay, one needs an access code. In order to have an access code, one must be a person of colour.
Is this not discrimination too? Should video games not be all inclusive? In trying and truly succeeding to create a safe place for her people, is Keira not being discriminatory against white people? I mean, I know white people haven’t faced nearly as much prejudice as our fellow humans, but still, to me, the notion of theoretically having only a game where only one race of people can play doesn’t seem to be the smartest way to approach empowerment. I mean, there is a reveal about Keira’s moderator and partner, Claire, where she is fearful about not being black enough for the game, once we find out that she’s only half African…even the fact that she is concerned about that just speaks volume about the game’s principles.
I liked Keira, I liked her sister, I enjoyed the fact that they were so close to one another and that they always there for one another: Steph is very forward in her thinking, very feminist and all about empowering women and not putting up with male bullcrap….
Which brings me to Malcolm, Keira’s longtime boyfriend. I absolutely detested his character and I could not believe how one sided and blind his views were! I mean, he honestly thought that people of colour such as himself shouldn’t play video games as it is brainwashing, like really? And when news of someone being murdered over a Slay dispute, he threatens Keira, I mean, really:
“I better not hear that you play this crap.”
Firstly, Keira’s incentive about creating this game is fair enough, but not only does Malcolm threaten her on multiple occasions, he honestly thinks that women are there solely to entertain and provide for their men, but I mean, tough little one that Malcolm is, he gets so prissy when Keira ignores him – I mean she doesn’t even ignore him consciously! When her game becomes the subject of severe racial matters after tragedy unfolds, he pretty much accuses her of disrespecting him for ignoring his massages, it’s insane. His foolish, blatant ideas are just so narrow minded and shows how oblivious he is – he couldn’t even acknowledge that Kiera had created something that was such a success but he openly admits and shames the game and acknowledges that he would destroy whoever created it after a young man of colour is slain. Not to mention that he is such an alpha male, always calling Keira his Queen, forever trying to make sure that he is her main priority yet snapping and dropping accusations when even a mere text message is worded to his satisfaction! Like, grow up!
Overall, can definitely admit that this novel is fundamental reading as Brittney Morris delves into definitely a relevant and powerful topic which is definitely still prevelant today, perhaps it was just the execution that seemed slightly contradictory.
That shall conclude my review, thank you for reading,
About Brittney Morris (from Hachette Australia):
Brittney Morris holds a BA in Economics from Boston University. She spends her spare time reading, playing indie video games, and enjoying the Seattle rain from the comfort of her apartment. She lives with her husband Steven who would rather enjoy the rain from a campsite in the woods because he hasn’t seen enough horror movies. Brittney is was chosen as a Novel-In-A-Day participant 2016, is a four-time NaNoWriMo winner, and an active informal mentor in #PitMad and #DVPit. She is also a 2018 Pitch Wars mentor.