cover image SLAY


Brittney Morris. Simon Pulse, $18.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-534-44542-0

Morris’s not-to-be-missed YA debut explores gaming culture and the diversity of the African diaspora. When black teen Kiera Johnson creates a virtual reality game called SLAY as a safe space for black gamers, she knows she must keep her identity as its developer secret. Her black boyfriend, Malcolm, insists that video games are “a distraction promoted by white society,” her parents will disapprove of her embracing certain aspects of black culture, and the students at her predominantly white school just won’t understand what a game by and for black people really means. But when the massively popular game’s existence is threatened after a dispute results in a player’s murder and the media stirs controversy, a new player emerges, forcing Kiera to wager the game’s control in a duel to maintain her secret identity and avoid a discrimination lawsuit. This tightly written novel will offer an eye-opening take for many readers and speak to teens of color who are familiar with the exhaustion of struggling to feel at home in a largely white society. Told from Kiera’s point of view with peeks into the minds of other characters, and peppered with easily accessible references to black culture, teens and adults alike will race through every page, relating to the importance of online friends, sharing Kiera’s desire to make the world a better place, and discovering that blackness is impossible to define. Ages 12–up. [em]Agent: Quressa Robinson, the Nelson Literary Agency. (Sept.) [/em]