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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The detailed descriptions of the online game Kiera creates offer an understanding of the player psychology, creative work, and technical skills that make up the online gaming world. References to being part of the African diaspora: Black people descended from Africans who were enslaved and shipped from Africa to Europe and the New World.
Being of service to others can enrich and even heal your life.
Positive Role Models
The author depicts a great diversity of Black people. Characters include STEM whizzes, a biracial girl from France, a businessman traveling in China, wealthy tech executives, and an over-the-top Afrocentric activist type.
Violence & Scariness
A murder takes place. There's a nuanced depiction of emotional abuse in a teen romantic relationship.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Main character is sexually active with her boyfriend, in her parents' home with their permission.
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Infrequent swearing includes "damn," "hell," and "f--k."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
In one passage, an emotionally abusive character uses drinking as an excuse for his mean behavior.
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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."
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.
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