Hey all, Dani here.
I’m just going to go ahead and apologize if my reviews end up being a little on the shorter side for the next week or so. With the way work has been causing my hands, wrists, and arms to be sore, it is actually a bit painful to write or type for longer periods of time. But I don’t want to disappear from the blog, because I don’t like how I feel when I don’t keep up with my posts. So for the moment I guess we’ll all have to settle for a little less, because something is still better than nothing.
Anyway, today’s review is the first book I finished in December, and it was my first read for both Diverse December and the Winter Magical Readathon, so let’s jump into the review.
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?
Rating: 4.5 stars
I will first start off by saying that in some ways this book was a bit of a culture shock for me. There were some things that I didn’t fully grasp at first and in some ways the conversations and mentalities felt a bit uncomfortable for me, but I understand entirely that it is a me problem, and that I needed to get over it and keep going so I could understand everything better. I realize that I don’t understand what it is like to be in a racial minority, and this book has honestly made me think about how I think and act and process situations. I’m not the best ally out there for groups I don’t identify with, and so I can work on making myself better for the future.
The game of Slay sounded so interesting, and would definitely be a fantastic and fun way to learn about other cultures. Also, I think it’s really cool to see more books out there with teens creating apps and games and other technologies, because I don’t feel like there are enough STEM focused books out there.
This book was just so interesting, and the characters and the conversations were eye-opening. From the beginning I absolutely did not like Kiera’s boyfriend Malcolm. But I thought all of Kiera’s family and friends helped to show so many different viewpoints in some serious discussions, and I loved how much this book made me think about things.
By the end I was so engrossed in the story, and I think I was on the edge of my seat and on the verge of tears for the last 50 pages or so.
All in all, I am so very glad that I read this book, and I hope more people pick it up and end up enjoying it as well.
Where to Get a Copy
You can pick up your own copy from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local independent bookstore.
You can also check with your local library.
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