At school, Kiera Johnson is an honor roll student, math tutor, and one of the only Black kids in her classes. But in the world she's created for herself, she is one of hundreds of thousands of Black gamers dueling in the online role-playing card game, Slay. Kiera is the game developer, but no one in her "real life" knows about the project, and her identity is a secret online. When Slay is mentioned in relation to the murder of a Kansas City teen, Kiera is distraught. News of the game and its Black-players-only rule reach media outlets, and Kiera's safe haven becomes a point of national discussion. When an anonymous troll enters the game and threatens to sue over discrimination, Kiera is determined to protect herself, her game, and her Blackness in a world that doesn't understand.
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2019!
“Gripping and timely.” —People
“The YA debut we’re most excited for this year.” —Entertainment Weekly
“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
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?