The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson
My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Dystopia, Science Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine
Release Date: March 1st 2013
Synopsis: A heart-stopping story of love, death, technology, and art set amid the tropics of a futuristic Brazil.
The lush city of Palmares Tres 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 Tres 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.
Wow. This book was good. The Summer Prince is an absolutely stunning and terribly unique novel. It is simply breathtaking. I wholeheartedly enjoyed reading this book, and I will definitely set my sights out for more of Johnson’s works. With The Summer Prince this woman has proved that she has ideas. Great ones.
The Summer Prince is about many things. The fate of the person chosen as the Summer Prince. A girl who has a passion for art and a want for fame. A rebellion. A love triangle. And it is all woven together quite well.
One of the first things that made me love this book was the setting. Johnson chose a futuristic Brazil as her setting. Now what can get better than that? Nothing that’s what. The world building is done very well for the most part. The reader is pushed into world suddenly which can cause some confusion, but Johnson does develop her world. She describes the world of Palmares Tres exquisitely. And the way Johnson combines many different cultures is amazing. There should have been more information added about how the years worked in my opinion but that is a minor flaw. Overall, Johnson has created a gorgeous, lush world.
The Summer Prince should be shelved in the mature section of the YA genre. Sexuality plays a big part of this novel. There is even an instance where it is implied that a character is masturbating. (I thought that this element of the book was dealt with well.) The fact that this novel has a world that crumbled to the ground because of men and is only thriving again because of woman might even make it controversial. So think about that if you are planning to read this.
The pacing of The Summer Prince is never slow. I thought it was perfect. I do think that the transitioning between scenes can be a bit rough so that definitely needs work. The prose… well, the prose is quite lovely. I loved the way the words flowed together. Johnson is able to write the image of the lush city of Palmares Tres vividly and beautifully.
I feel that June’s character was hard to connect to. I loved that she had a strong passion for art (she even embeds a light-tree into her arm) and her own desires. I really did. But sometimes she let her desires consume her and she did some really selfish things. I know this is a character flaw, but it made June hard to spend time with. She really got on my nerves sometimes. She does start to grow as a person and that was when I was able to connect with her, but I believe that I should have been able to connect with her earlier in the book than later.
Enki is a complex character, I believe. And a incredibly sad one. His love for art was so strong that it became an obsession that started to destroy him. I just felt so sorry for him. I willed him to start putting art after himself but he doesn’t. Enki also had an unpredictable quality to him that always made me wonder what in the world was he going to do next.
Gil isn’t given as much development as June or Enki as a character but I still found him pleasant to read about. He is probably the most level-headed character in the book.
The love triangle between Enki, June, and Gil has a big role in the story. It was good and bad. The good is that it was done sensitively and without any bias. You could also tell that the characters all loved each other greatly. It wasn’t developed in a rush, and June and Gil are understandably unsure of what their relationship is with Enki. The bad is that it sometimes annoyed me. I wanted there to be more focus on the world and events happening.
The Summer Prince is definitely one of my favorite dystopian novels thus far. It is a unique novel that should be recognized. I highly recommend it!
*An advanced copy was provided for review by the publisher via Netgalley