Title: SLAY
Author: Birttney Morris
Pages: 323
Publisher: Simon & Schuster for Young Readers
Published date: 24 September 2019
Genre: Fiction

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? (Source: Goodreads)

The first time I heard a book about a game, I was immediately intrigued. A book about music? Sure, I have seen that. Been there, done that. But a video game? It piqued my attention. Even though I'm not a gamer (sorry, I'm lame) but I'm a reader. So, I was curious to know why do people love video games so much. The last time I enjoyed a game was when I was in primary school, playing GTA on my house's old computer. In the game, the only thing I did was driving around. Yup, you can confirm I am definitely lame. 

Joy in the midst of oppression is in its own kind a bravery. 

This book is about Kiera, a 17 year-old high school girl at Johnson Academy, which is an elite school outside her neighbourhood. She's super smart, fun, friendly but sometimes gets tired of her white schoolmates asking for her permission to do a 'black thing' as if she represents her people. 

However, the only place she felt truly and genuinely happy is in her safe personal space and secret, SLAY, the game she developed. She lives blissfully, with her sister, and a boyfriend whom can be an arse at times, until one day when one of her players was killed in real life. 

All I ever wanted to do was escape into this magical world where for once I don’t have to act a certain way because I’m Black, and where I don’t have to answer certain questions because I’m the Black authority in the room, and where if I do something that’s not stereotypically Black, I’m different.

Ignoring Kiera's age (because I think it's a bit absurd a 17 year-old can develop a game with 500,000 thousand players), I think the concept of this book is unique. Even the concept of the game is creative. The players can choose different cards as their weapons, and each card was named based on black culture. Some of the cards are Hell Naw and That One Auntie's Potato Salad. During the battle, Morris describe the scenes perfectly as you can imagine the players as if you were watching them. My favourite scene in the book is when everyone in the game chanted for Kiera aka Emerald (her game character) towards the end of the book. That scene gave me goosebumps.

I love Harper, Kiera's white best friend because she tries to understand Kiera and avoid hurting her feelings. She seemed like a sweet person to me. The topics that were discussed in the book are something new I learned which is why I enjoyed reading SLAY.

Despite the good points, I still think this book did not meet my expectation. I was hoping for something more dynamic between the characters, like family relationship or friendship that made me warm (just like in Angie Thomas' books) but I was left disappointed. I know it's my fault for comparing two different authors. So, maybe if I didn't put up any hopes, I would have enjoyed this book more. 

There are a few things I disagree in this book. I know it is trying to show that a video game can be a medium or a tool that connects people all around the world, it could be the reason why people still hold on to their lives, the last thread of hope, but I don't think letting your 6 year-old children to play video games is acceptable. Maybe because I'm a typical Asian, or maybe I'm an uncultured swine, but I think children at the age of six should be playing outside more (I sound like a hag).

Overall, I think SLAY is a decent book, but it's not something I see myself rereading in the future. This made me sad because I actually looked forward to reading this and it's been on my TBR for so long. 

Rate: ★★★★☆ 


  1. eh nama sama..kiera..ihik..
    well ada pro and cons juga..coz i'm a gamer heheh..anyway takmo komen banyak coz tak baca lagi buku tu heheh

    1. ya betul, kalau budak2 still pandai manage masa untuk main game and buat benda lain pun okay je sebenarnya. yang bermasalah bila addicted tu đŸ˜«