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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?
A note of caution: this book will ensnare your life and you won’t be able to put it down until the final, anxiety-filled page is turned. On the surface, this is a pretty straightforward mystery: A supermodel with a troubled past is deemed by the police to have committed suicide when her body is found on the ground below the balcony of her posh London flat. But her brother thinks something more sinister is at play and enlists the help of private detective Cormoran Strike. But this book is anything but straightforward. Strike, a paraplegic war veteran investigates every claim with the precision he learned in the military. He also has a troubled past… his late mother lead a life riddled with addiction and adversity. And as Strike delves further into the life of the troubled model, his own past demons and memories color his investigation. Not only is this mystery masterfully written, plotted out, and riveting, it speaks authentically to a multitude of issues like how society judges women who lead unconventional lives, psychological trauma, and the trials and intricacies of family. (Also, this book was actually written by J.K. Rowling under a pseudonym). - Linnea