A lot or a little?
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that SLAY is a novel about what happens after 17-year-old Kiera creates a virtual reality game called SLAY, a safe online space with access limited to Black people around the globe. Kiera lives in the high-tech community east of Seattle and is one of only four Black people at a prestigious private high school. Due to Kiera's coding talents and a compelling persona named Emerald, the game attracts hundreds of thousands of players. When a player is murdered in real life for hoarding game currency, a newcomer to the online world threatens Kiera with a lawsuit. She must fight to keep her identity secret and protect the community she's so lovingly built. The book contains a nuanced portrait of an emotionally abusive relationship between Kiera and her boyfriend, Malcom. The couple is sexually active in her parents' home, with their permission. In one passage, Malcolm blames mean behavior on his drinking. Infrequent swearing includes "damn," "hell," and "f--k."
- Parents say
- Kids say
There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.
What's the story?
When SLAY begins, Kiera is juggling her STEM studies at a prestigious private high school, her boyfriend, and a secret. The secret is that she is the mastermind coder behind SLAY, an online virtual reality game for people in the African diaspora. She's created the game in response to the casual racism in the mainstream online gaming scene. In her game, the players refer to each other as "kings and queens," choose skin color that reflects the full range of possibilities among Black folk, and wield superpower cards representing Black culture and heroes. The game has gone global, with hundreds of thousands of players all over the world. But after a boy is murdered in real life for hoarding currency of the realm in a plot to ransom it for cash, Kiera's life gets complicated: First, television pundits and stuffy academics label her gaming community a "gang." Then a White supremacist manages to get the code and challenges her to a duel. If she refuses the duel, he says he'll sue. If she loses the duel, she might lose everything.
Is it any good?
Quirky and true to the nerd experience, this novel offers a thrilling ride with fun surprise plot twists. SLAY is Brittney Morris' first novel, but it reads like the work of a master writer. The development of characters and relationships is a strength. Readers can empathize with Kiera's struggles to navigate her different social relationships. There's her White best friend, Harper, who, along with her brother, Tyler, occasionally trip micro-aggression minefields; Malcolm, the self-absorbed boyfriend who manipulates Kiera; Kiera's loving father, mother, and sister; and Cicada, co-creator of SLAY, with whom Kiera develops teamwork and intimacy without ever meeting face to face. The book's one minor weakness is occasional lapses into dialogue that comes off like a lecture.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Kiera's relationship with Malcolm in SLAY. What does Malcolm mean when he complains about her failing to give him respect? How does Malcolm demonstrate lack of respect for Kiera?
The costumes and power cards in SLAY let players express their hopes and fears. What are some of your favorites, and why?
In a few chapters, the author leaves Kiera's point of view and narrates the story in the voice of another character. How do those voices influence your understanding of the game?
- Author: Brittney Morris
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Topics: Activism, STEM, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Simon Pulse
- Publication date: October 3, 2019
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
- Number of pages: 336
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks
- Last updated: February 26, 2020
Our editors recommend
For kids who love stories about tech, gaming, coding, and digital life
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.