Hiya everyone, it’s Sarah!
I have been having difficulty choosing potential Printz books this year. When reflecting on all of the books I have read so far this year, there is one that truly comes to the front of my mind, Slay by Brittney Morris. This is Morris’s first book, but it is so well-crafted, I will not be surprised if it sweeps the awards this year.
For anyone not familiar with the Printz Award it is an award given by the American Library Association for the best example of teen literature from the previous year. You can find more information here.
Summary: Kiera is a typical honor’s student at her affluent private school. She is one a few African American students at the school and the constant code switching leaves her longing for a place where she can celebrate her race and culture. Kiera is not going to wait for the world to create this space, instead she creates an online MMORPG (think World of Warcraft mixed with a digital version of Yugi-Oh…only ten billion times cooler). Players must be invited to play and only those who are black are able to enter this world. It is a place where Kiera and other gamers can be themselves. Until, a young man ends up dead because of something that happened through SLAY, Kiera’s game. The media is desperate to find the creator of this world. Kiera worries for the safety of her world and the consequences of being SLAY’s creator.
Printz Consideration: The characters are well-developed, unique and feel as though they come off the page. Morris takes her time with even side characters, like political commentators, who feel real themselves. However, it is not the characters that truly point to the excellence of this novel, but the setting development. The in-game and real world presented in this book feel so real that I almost feel like I am interacting within the game myself. This book is one that others will use to find their own way to develop future novels. I hope that everyone reads this book.