I am a queen, and this is my gameSLAY, Brittney Morris
G’day friends! I am so excited to bring to you today my review for SLAY by Brittney Morris as part of the #AUSYABLOGGERS Blog Tour.
How gorgeous is this cover?!
SLAY by Brittney Morris has been on my MUST READ radar ever since I saw a tweet about it last year – it sounded incredible as well as impactful that I knew I needed to read it.
And I’m so happy I did.
If you are not too sure about the premise of SLAY, here is a synopsis that can also be found on Goodreads:
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?
Friends, I adored this book. I’ll just tell you my rating now so I can just get into the meat of this review. I gave it a glowing 4.5 stars. It was so moving, profound, I wanted to roar in solidarity; I honestly believe this is a book that people need to read because it left me reeling.
The main character, Kiera Johnson, also known as Emerald online, is the developer of the online duelling game called SLAY, a created first and foremost to:
celebrate Black excellence in all its forms, from all parts of the globe. We are different ages, genders, tribes, tongues, and traditions. But tonight, we are all Black. And tonight, we all SLAY.p. 31
SLAY is a safe space, a place where Black excellence is celebrated, respected and loved. Kiera’s character was an interesting one, wherein through her and her interactions with others, you explore issues such as black appropriation, cyber bullying, racism both online and in reality, as well as an exploration of the ideas of complicitness and silence. It is quite a hard-hitting novel, with issues that are very true and accurate for the experiences of people of colour today.
I also think that they way the author made sure to incorporate the perspective of Claire, a woman born in France but who is also Black, made the story much more nuanced. Through Claire, it explored the differing cultural and historical contexts of ‘Blackness’ and what it means to be a Black woman in France, in comparison to America. Through Claire, we see her yearning for that connection to her identity in her questioning of whether she is ‘Black’ enough. I adored her character, I would have loved for there to be more of her perspective, more of her experiences, because she was just fantastic.
I did think introducing another perspective through the character of Jaylen, was fabulous but we were only given one chapter, I believe, or two, for her story would have been a game-changer. I didn’t quite understand the point of introducing her, as Jaylen was born a male but identifies as a woman, and doing absoltuely nothing with her character. The fact that Morris introduced Jaylen, and began to explore the multiplicities of Blackness made me so happy, but then did absolutely nothing with Jaylen’s character, made me quite disappointed. I really wanted to know more about her and her development as a character.
Although overall I loved this book and would scream from the rooftops about it, I did have slight issues with it and that is the reason for my rating. I touched on this slightly above, and this also plays into another reason. There were times when scenes would happen, important scenes, but there would be no development of that scene or aspect of the story and we would just move on. For instance, I won’t spoil anyhing, but at the end of the story the MAJOR reveal occurs concerning the identity of Dred, and this character did so much in bullying and sent the most hatred infused vitriol Kiera’s way, but we are told nothing about the consequences of his actions. Only that Kiera had to call the police and the understandable internal battle she had when doing so. And then it’s just, let’s move on. I also found that the entire reason Kiera would not tell her family about the fact that she developed the game SLAY was not a very strong one, and it became a frustrating plot device about keeping this game a secret when I didn’t quite understand the purpose of it.
If you haven’t read the book yet, please do. I finished this book and had to sit there just abosorbing it. For a debut novel, Morris has really shown her writing chops. This would have to be one of the most important books of the year, so don’t miss out on this incredible and unique voice in YA fiction.
Also, don’t miss out on the other stops along the way for the #AUSYABLOGGERS Blog Tour!
Until next time, happy reading!
Lots of love,
About The Author
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.
Website – https://www.authorbrittneymorris.com/
SLAY Website – https://www.slaythebook.com/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/BrittneyMMorris
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/brittneymmorris/
Australian Bloggers – https://ausyabloggers.blogspot.com/2019/10/slay-review-tour.html