Friday, April 26, 2013

The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Author: Alaya Dawn Johnson
Title: The Summer Prince
Publication: March 1, 2013
Publisher: Scholastic  
Source: Publisher via Netgalley
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.

Quote:“To love light, you have to love dark. I'm not trying to be profound, I know you'll understand. I don't mean that you have to hate to love, or that you have to die to live.I mean that sometimes, you turn out the lights just to turn them back on.”

I enjoyed the heart of this story, though admittedly it left me perplexed at the end. For one, the romance I couldn't truly grasp who loved who. I know that Gil and Enki love each other but I think they also love June possibly in two different ways. June in her own way is obsessed with Enki as she tries to support his choosing her friend Gil instead of her. June does have a connection with Enki that I couldn't completely decipher and caused some of my confusion about the love interests. It's not really a triangle as this society doesn't seem big on monogamous relationships and much freer in their choice of sexual encounters.

In a small way it made me think of the Hunger Games, I know people are always comparing many of the new dystopian novels to Collins' work but let me explain why I say this. In this world that Johnson has created each year a young male is chosen to be King and within the year of his reign, he will be sacrificed before the people of the city. Basically, they have a pageant type thing where the finalists get to show why they should be chosen for this prestigious role, developing a sort of fan base along the way with residents such as June cheering them on. This brings forth the question, why are they so desensitized to the fact that the one that gets chosen will be murdered publicly in order to solidify the choice of a new Queen. Alright, so it's explained somewhat in the book as to how this comes about and there is mention but not much explanation about some plague that the people of Palmares Tres seem to be able to avoid. 

The characters June, Gil and Enki are okay. I couldn't entirely connect to Gil because I don't feel like I really know him other than he's June's best friend and Enki's consort. June is focused primarily on being the best artist in Palmares Tres and she says so repeatedly throughout the story. She's so wrapped up in being the center of attention and being famous that she becomes somewhat infuriating when people start dying and she's still trying to win the Queen's contest. Her interactions with Enki are my favorite scenes; she seems to take more risks and is willing to sometimes forget her lust for fame, when she's with him. I think her infatuation with his exotic beauty and prowess attribute to this. The story is told from June's perspective with letters from Enki that appear throughout the text, some of them give more details about who he is and what made him decide to enter for the Summer King position but the others left me puzzled. There are small gems in this work, that get lost in the overall execution with not enough details but I love the world building and the fluidity of the work. What this book accomplishes for me is it makes you think about what's important. Junes has to decide how many pieces of herself she's willing to lose in order to attain higher status? 

Note: Contains sexual situations that some may be uncomfortable with their teen reading. 

Cover Review: Beautiful! Love it.


  1. The cover is very beautiful. Thanks for the review!

  2. Sounds pretty good to me. Thanks for the info. :-)

  3. It certainly sounds intriguing and I can see your how you can draw a Hunger Games comparison. But I even find the synopsis a bit confusing. I'm going to look out for more reviews because something about it appeals to me, but there are so many books out there that need reading :-) Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

    1. Thanks! you're welcome. I see that on Goodreads there were others that felt confusion about the story as well.


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