Skip to main content

Teen SRC 2020- Slay by Brittney Morris


Kiera Johnson leads a double life. Being one of the few Black girls at her school, she behaves the way she needs to: smart, helpful, and unproblematic. Even Kiera’s family and her boyfriend, Malcolm, expect her to act a certain way. The only time Kiera is truly herself is when she’s Emerald, the queen in a virtual reality game called Slay. Keira made Slay to celebrate Black excellence, and her multitude of players come from across the globe. Of course, no one in Kiera’s real life knows she made the game, or even that she plays it.

But when a Black boy is murdered for game money, for SLAY money, Kiera’s two very separate lives come crashing together. Kiera is filled with guilt for having created a game that took a boy’s life, but she doesn’t have time to grieve. Media outlets, and the internet has pounced on the game, on HER game, calling it racist and exclusionary. Everyone now has an opinion on SLAY, but Kiera doesn’t know what to do. Not saying anything, she might become complacent to the injustice, but speaking up could risk exposing her identity. Worst of all, Kiera now risks losing SLAY to Dred Scott, a racist troll. Emerald would fight for justice, Kiera knows. Emerald wouldn’t bow down to anyone. But will Kiera?

Slay is an absolute masterpiece. I have to admit to having an aversion to video-game related books, but Slay has dispelled that notion. The world-building in this book is amazing, the details exquisite, and I wished I could see a game like SLAY in real life. Kiera is a well-developed character, but some of the side characters are more likable, at least to me. We are also told how SLAY has impacted people’s lives by having a few chapters told in another perspective, a technique I will always love.

Slay by Brittney Morris gets 9/10. The ending was a bit too unrealistic for my taste, and there were some unnecessary scenes. (and i’m sorry, but the cover!! A portrait cover, *sigh*, and far too much pink, which doesn’t match with the story’s vibe.)

Overall, Slay opens up many important discussions about safe spaces for minorities, identity, and what Black excellence looks like at an individual level. That might sound preachy or way too serious, but I promise you, it’s not. The story itself is captivating and there is a mystery aspect to it as well (yayyy!!). Coming from a minority background myself, Slay feels like a hug after a tiring day, a hug that says “I see you and I feel you.” 100% recommend, whoever you are and whatever you like reading.

Teen SRC 2018 – Blood, Sweat, and Pixels by Jason Schreier

Image result for blood sweat and pixelsBlood, Sweat, and Pixels by Jason Schreier

Do you have dreams about being a video game developer? Have you ever wanted to make your own game? Do you flat-out just like hearing people rant about their day? If you answered yes to any of those questions, Blood, Sweat, and Pixels is the book for you! It tells the stories of how games such as Halo Wars and Destiny were made and how terrible making them was with each chapter being dedicated to one game.

Every story told in this book is nonfiction, but Jason Schreier does a great job at shaping it like a story, and not just an interview. Another great thing about this book is that there’s something here for everyone. Are you a gamer that only likes certain genres? Well no problem! This book includes games that range from shooters, to farming simulators, to massive role playing games. Not a gamer? Also no problem! This book is written well enough to keep the least tech-savvy person engaged.

Honestly, it’s just fun to hear how everything that could go wrong went wrong and I could easily connect to a lot of the stories. From deadlines that were barely met, to fixing something, only to mess something else up, this book was oddly relatable. Despite being a book about video games, I really think non-gamers would like this book just as much as a gamer would. So, whether you like them, hate them, strike them, or berate them, this book about games is exellent and I give it my rating of: a bottle of Mountain Dew Game Fuel/10-targeted at gamers, but can be enjoyed by anyone.

Teen SRC 2018 – Warcross by Marie Lu


Warcross by Marie Lu 

Marie Lu has always been a favourite author of mine, as she had me hooked on her previous series, Young Elites and Legend. So when Warcross came out and I had the chance to give it a read, I was not at all surprised by how much I enjoyed the book :). I am a very huge fan of reading and I have a list of 30 books/series that have left me astonished, and needless to say, Warcross is on that list. I’m going to be reviewing and summarizing the books on my list over this summer so do look out for them as they are truly amazing. Back to Warcross, I give this book a full 5/5 stars and I cannot wait for the second book, which sadly, has not come out yet.

Summary Below:

This story is kind of an extension on what was briefly mentioned in the last book of the Legend series: A place where everything is linked to a digital world that is an integral part of daily life. Don’t worry, I will explain. In Legend, the main characters ventured briefly into a country where doing everyday things could earn you points in the virtual world of a video game that has basically taken over every single citizen’s lives. So, for example, watering a plant might earn you 1 point and drinking a cup of water, another point. “Players” with the most points would then become famous and known by anyone who plays the game as well. In Warcross, this idea is evolved on. Warcross is the digital game that has taken over, and it was invented by a young genius, Hideo Tanaka, barely in his twenties. Emika Chen, the main character, has a way with technology and she is an extremely talented hacker. She is hired by Hideo to find out who has been messing with his game’s programming. As they work together, Emika earns points from meeting the creator of the game, entering the company headquarters etc, and these points cumulate to the point where she becomes a VERY well-known Warcross celebrity. But as the story continues, we learn about Hideo’s past and his reasons for creating this game, this just creates more mystery and the entire plotline just completely baffles me. It is honestly so amazing that Marie Lu could create such a complicated storyline with so many components but that’s what I love about her writing, just when you thought it couldn’t get more mysterious, it does. So again, full 5/5 stars, AMAZING read, definitely recommend.

Teen SRC 2018 – Warcross by Marie Lu

Image result for warcross coverWarcross by Marie Lu

For millions of people around the world, Warcross isn’t just a game, it’s a way of life. For seventeen-year-old hacker Emika Chan, it’s her daily life. She works as a bounty hunter, tracking down people who illegally bet on the game. When Emika hacks into the game, she is convinced that she’s going to be arrested. Instead, she gets a phone call from the creator of the game, Hideo Tanaka. He needs a spy inside this year’s Warcross games tournament, to uncover a security problem. And he wants Emika for the job.

I loved this book! It’s in the sci-fi section of the teen area, and I don’t usually read books that’s sci-fi. However, I’m convinced even people who don’t like reading will still love this book. I recommend it to 12-year-olds and above since there are some language and romance in it.   Book order:

  1. Warcross
  2. Wildcard

After you read book one you’ll understand why book two is named Wildcard.


Want to Create Your Own Video Game?

One of my favourite things to do at the end of my day is to sit at my computer and play one of my favourite video games. My current obsession is Left for Dead 2 (still hoping the rumours of a L4D3 are true), but I also enjoy a good treasure-seeking monster-hunting round of Diablo. Every now and then I don the cowl and cape and play Batman Arkham Asylum–but I have this habit of getting lost in the city after making too many right-hand turns and I can never find the Joker. (And yes, I know Batman has a GPS but that doesn’t seem to help me at all.)

Knowing what I like and wish were available in a video game often makes me wish I could create my own. Imagine a Batman-style Arkham adventure with streets filled with zombies, where your ultimate goal is to find magic items that make you more and more powerful! But how does one go about learning how to make their own games?

You could come to Game Curious, a free no-pressure learning environment of discussion, discovery and play right here at the Richmond Public Library! At this weekly event starting July 8th, you can connect with local storytellers who also love video games.

There will be six MAKE sessions, and all are inclusive and non-competitive workshops that use free software to introduce the skills needed to make games. Here, you will be supported by mentors and you will create your own game!

All you have to do is sign up!


SIX MAKE sessions July 8th – August 12th

July 8: Design and Planning: Helping to get you started on your first game.
July 15: Coding Concepts: No previous experience required!
July 22: Narrative: Storytelling and interactive narrative.
July 29: Art and Audio: Making your game come alive!
August 5 + 12: Finishing Your Game: We’ll be there to support you as your put the finishing touches on your project.