Ready Player One meets The Hate U Give in this dynamite debut novel that follows a fierce teen game developer as she battles a real-life troll intent on ruining the Black Panther–inspired video game she created and the safe community it represents for Black gamers.
By day, seventeen-year-old Kiera Johnson is an honors student, a math tutor, and one of the only Black kids at Jefferson Academy. But at home, she joins hundreds of thousands of Black gamers who duel worldwide as Nubian personas in the secret multiplayer online role-playing card game, SLAY. No one knows Kiera is the game developer, not her friends, her family, not even her boyfriend, Malcolm, who believes video games are partially responsible for the “downfall of the Black man.”
But when a teen in Kansas City is murdered over a dispute in the SLAY world, news of the game reaches mainstream media, and SLAY is labeled a racist, exclusionist, violent hub for thugs and criminals. Even worse, an anonymous troll infiltrates the game, threatening to sue Kiera for “anti-white discrimination.”
Driven to save the only world in which she can be herself, Kiera must preserve her secret identity and harness what it means to be unapologetically Black in a world intimidated by Blackness. But can she protect her game without losing herself in the process?
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING:
★ 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.
—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, starred review
★ "More than a novel, this is a conversation about safe spaces, why they're necessary for minorities, and why we should champion their right to exist, without being branded as exclusionary or racist.”
—BOOKLIST, starred review
"A book that knocks you off your feet while dropping the kind of knowledge that’ll keep you down for the count. Prepare to be slain.”
—NIC STONE, New York Times bestselling author of Dear Martin and Odd One Out.
“SLAY is so much more than just another book about video games: it’s about a girl who carves a space in the world for herself and completely owns it, and it’s about the microaggressions and the can-I-touch-your-hairs and all the things that come with being one of a handful of black kids in a school. It isn’t afraid to pull punches where it counts; sometimes you see them coming, sometimes you don’t.”
—AVERY PEREGRINE, Third Place Books (Lake Forest Park, WA)
and impressively insightful."
—SARA GROCHOWSKI, McLean and Eakin Booksellers (Petoskey, MI)
"I was captivated from the very first page and found myself quickly falling in love with Kiera but, even more, for what Kiera stood for."
—TERESA STEELE, Old Firehouse Books (Fort Collins, CO)
IN THE NEWS
American Booksellers Association: SLAY named a Summer/Fall Indies Introduce pick | Read