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April 11, 2013

REVIEW: The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Title: The Summer Prince
Author: Alaya Dawn Johnson
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Publication Date: March 1, 2013
Source: ARC from ARCycling (thank you!)
Rating: 4/5
Get it: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
A heart-stopping story of love, death, technology, and art set amid the tropics of a futuristic Brazil.

The lush city of Palmares Três shimmers with tech and tradition, with screaming gossip casters and practiced politicians. In the midst of this vibrant metropolis, June Costa creates art that’s sure to make her legendary. But her dreams of fame become something more when she meets Enki, the bold new Summer King. The whole city falls in love with him (including June’s best friend, Gil). But June sees more to Enki than amber eyes and a lethal samba. She sees a fellow artist.

Together, June and Enki will stage explosive, dramatic projects that Palmares Três will never forget. They will add fuel to a growing rebellion against the government’s strict limits on new tech. And June will fall deeply, unfortunately in love with Enki. Because like all Summer Kings before him, Enki is destined to die.

Pulsing with the beat of futuristic Brazil, burning with the passions of its characters, and overflowing with ideas, this fiery novel will leave you eager for more from Alaya Dawn Johnson.

My thoughts, feelings, and reactions
The Summer Prince was awe-inspiring, beautifully written, and imaginable from the world, to the characters, and to the overall storyline. 

Palamares Tres was a city full of life. Who knew a city shaped into a pyramid could be so fascinatingly wondrous as this one! This world that Alaya Dawn Johnson created was not lacking in lights, color, art, and culture. It was vast, seemingly vivid, and utterly captivating. In this futuristic world, there was an immense amount of advanced technology and vocabulary that I didn’t understand, but desperately tried to.  As perfect as Palamares Tres may seem, it is not without social classification, political corruption, and endless judgement. Here, women are in charge and hold high power and stature over men. Every five years a new Summer King is elected for a year, only to die a horrible death to choose a new queen. In the midst of this world there is a rivalry between wakas (people under 30) and grandes (people over 30), a rebellion between technophiles (those for more technology) and isolationists (those against more technology), and the rise of those who live in the lower class called the Verde.

Main character June Costa, was an ambitious, outgoing, and driven artist. She was passionate, a little rebellious and defiant towards the things she believed and didn’t believe in. She wanted everyone in the city to see and know her work. June wanted to be famous and be the best artist in Palamares Tres. While her ambitious nature is her strong suit, it is also her downfall. In her quest to be the best, June becomes blindsided, selfish, and extremely self-centered. However, June does more good within this novel by helping Enki by being strong willed and ready to prove herself. She becomes the person Enki knows her to be and she ends up letting go what she truly wants for something much more important. 


My favorite part of this book was not the world, not the writing, or even June. It was the Summer Prince, Enki. While June may have been the narrator of this book, Enki was the star. He was also an artist who expressed himself through his voice, actions, and his body. His presence, his performances, and the way he spoke to the crowd hypnotizes all. Enki was charismatic, beautiful, and enigmatic and he knew it. He used this to manipulate to get what he wanted and made sure his voice was heard. The best thing about Enki was his mysterious allure. He was the type of person you could spend all your time with, but never truly grasp or hold on to because Enki was too beautiful to touch, too lithe to catch, and too layered to know. The people of Palarmes Tres loved him, June’s best friend Gil, loved him, even June herself loved him. Bold, daring, rebellious and catches mere attention with a wink, Enki was a rarity I wished I could have known in reality. I loved him, I loved him, I simply loved him.

While complex and intricate of a story, The Summer Prince does have its faults. The pacing is rather slow, so slow, that things don’t truly pick up well into half of the novel. While unique and original at best, the slow pacing is coupled with a plot line that is confusing and very hard to understand, if not follow. I found myself stopping to look up words and even rereading a few pages back. This would have put me off if I wasn’t so compelled to finish and get more Enki and June. The romance in this book is unconventional and maybe even unusual. I seriously loved that sexual orientation was not an issue and with no second thought to the people. It was refreshing and made me hope that someday our world would be like this. The fate of this book was predictable in of itself, but I still found it very heartbreaking and crushing. I was moved by the bittersweetness of how everything played out. 


Overall, The Summer Prince managed to capture my heart despite all of its difficulty. I was enraptured by the story, maybe even a little obsessed.

3 comments:

  1. Sometimes when a read is difficult it just means it's that much more worth it in the end :) I am glad that you enjoyed this read and I think I may give it a try now :)

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  2. I confess I had a difficult time with The Summer Prince. Yes the premise was captivating, but the slow pacing just destroyed my potential enjoyment. I guess I wasn't as motivated as you were by Enki and June ;-). I did love the portrayal of non-heterosexual relationships being a no-brainer, however it wasn't until the very end that I actually got a feel for a driven plot. I wished that the rest of the book had been like the end ya know?

    Anya @ On Starships and Dragonwings

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  3. I will have to read this one. I have seen some not so favorable reviews, but I am really happy to read a good review. It just sounds so good!

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