Date finished: June 7, 2019

Rating: ★★★★★

SLAY, Brittney Morris

I finished this in one sitting on a plane, and wow is it wonderful. Inspired by the energy of the opening night of Black Panther, Morris offers readers an important and fun new work of fiction that’s part The Hate U Give and part Ready Player One.

High school student Kiera Johnson struggles with studying, family, a boyfriend, a being one of the only black students in her school. During the day she deals with her white classmates and friends asking her for an opinion on things like dreadlocks, relying on her to represent the black population — a responsibility she’s not often interested in. But at night, Kiera’s designed a virtual reality (VR) game into which she can escape with other black players from all over the world — a space called SLAY.

But when a young black man attempts to sell SLAY coins for real money and is killed as a result, Kiera must contend with the social implications, the allegations of racism, the threats of lawsuits, and the mixed feelings from her family and friends — none of whom know she created the world causing so much uproar.

SLAY investigates and discusses racism, code switching, safe spaces, white supremacy, bigotry, hatred, and other topical issues. The pressure Kiera feels to keep her development of the game secret from her friends and family is especially interesting and lends itself well to discussion.

A read that’s both captivating and fun, SLAY commands attention, and I hope to see it on book club and high school reading lists soon after its release.

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