Review of SLAY

by Brittney Morris
High School    Simon Pulse    323 pp.
9/19    978-1-5344-4542-0    $18.99
e-book ed.  978-1-5344-4544-4    $10.99

"By day, I'm an honors student at Jefferson Academy. At night, I turn into the Nubian goddess most people know as Emerald." Seventeen-year-old narrator Kiera is not just a gamer; she is (secretly) the creator of the hugely popular multiplayer gaming community SLAY, which is rooted in Black culture and which she developed to "showcase how awesome we are as Black people, how multifaceted, resilient, and colorful we are." When a troll disrupts SLAY — and an act of real-life violence follows — Kiera must investigate the events without losing herself or compromising her creation. Author Morris clearly understands this community, and her engagement with the topic goes beyond simply exploring race and prejudice online. She dissects the anatomy of gaming communities, unpacking the causes — and consequences — when, as too often, Black women create something the world tries to destroy. Recommended for teens who are gamers (across positionalities and platforms); for those who want to better understand online communities; for those who have ever created something that was misunderstood; and for anyone who hates gaming, because Kiera will have you challenging what it means to be a gamer. Kiera is so many of us Blerds; and Morris has truly captured the holistic experiences of many Black digital users.

From the November/December 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Kishonna L. Gray
Kishonna L. Gray is an assistant professor in communication and gender and women's studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a faculty associate at the Berkman-Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

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