Review Blog

Oct 22 2019

Slay by Britney Morris

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Hachette, 2019. ISBN: 9781444951721.
(Age: 14+) Recommended. Themes: Computer games, Virtual reality, Black power, Cyberbullying. Teenage college student, Kiera has created her own original computer game, 'Slay', built around black heroes and familiar concepts in black American culture. Her idea was to create a safe place for black gamers to play together without having to deal with the racist stereotypes and the bullying too frequently encountered in other computer games. And she finds success, with more and more people joining in around the world. But suddenly things start to go wrong, when a student is murdered and the motivation seems to be an argument over Slay coins. Keira, as developer, feels targeted by news reports that label the game as racist against whites, and then to make things worse, an online troll seems intent on bringing her down.
Although the context and jargon may be initially off-putting to non-American readers, the novel soon draws you in, and readers will find themselves swept up in the tension of the story, as Keira juggles both real life relationships and the threat in the cyberworld.
The novel deals sympathetically with LGBTIQ+ relationships and recognises that the online world has the potential to be a safe place for some people to explore their identity. It also recognises that gamers may not only be young students, but may include people from all strata of society - video games may increasingly be a source of relaxation and social interaction, an escape from real life pressures.
And as far countering cyberbullying goes, the main message seems to be to stand strong, and to call them out. When Keira makes a stand, she finds she has many more supporters than she realised, both online and in the real world.
With many themes in common with On the come up by Angie Thomas this book will appeal to readers interested in exciting stories dealing with black power, virtual worlds and overcoming injustice.
Helen Eddy

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