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The Summer Prince Kindle Edition

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Length: 307 pages
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* After a nuclear winter, survivors in Brazil build the towering pyramid city of Palmares Tres, where every five years an elected king chooses a queen, lives for a year, and is then sacrificed. Privileged, rebellious young artist June Costa is mesmerized by this year’s election, and she fiercely favors Enki, a beautiful boy from the bottom tier, the world of the algae vats and the perpetual stink. After his election, June and her best friend are drawn into Enki’s world. With only a year to live, he is a brilliant and fast-burning star whose light opens June’s eyes to the serious issues—and corruption—affecting her city, and with her art, she helps to release a surge of discontent. In this YA debut, Johnson paints a brilliant picture of a seemingly lush paradise hiding a core rotted by class stratification, creative stagnation, and disenfranchisement. Evocative, disturbing, and exhilarating, this story leaves much for the reader to ponder, from the nuanced characters to fascinating central themes, including the impact of technology and the role of isolationism in a perilous world. Like leaping into cold water on a hot day, this original dystopian novel takes the breath away, refreshes, challenges, and leaves the reader shivering but yearning for another plunge. Grades 9-12. --Lynn Rutan

Review

After a nuclear winter, survivors in Brazil build the towering pyramid city of Palmares Tres, where every five years an elected king chooses a Queen and is then sacrificed. Privileged, rebellious young artist June Costas is mesmerized by this year’s election, and she fiercely favors Enki, a beautiful boy from the bottom tier, the world of the algae vats and the perpetual stink. After his election, June and her best friend are drawn into Enki’s world. With only a year to live, he is a brilliant and fast-burning star whose light opens June’s eyes not to the serious issues—and corruption— affecting her city, and with her art, she helps to release a surge of discontent. In this YA debut, Johnson paints a brilliant picture of a seemingly lush paradise hiding a core rotted by class stratification, creative stagnation, and disenfranchisement. Evocative, disturbing, and exhilarating, this story leaves much for the reader to ponder, from the nuanced characters to fascinating central themes, including the impact of technology and the role of isolationism in a perilous world. Like leaping into cold water on a hot day, this original dystopian novel takes the breath away, refreshes, challenges, and leaves the reader shivering but yearning for another plunge.
— Lynn Rutan, Booklist starred review


"Eighteen-year-old artist June Costa is a citizen of Palmares Três, a vertically structured city in what was once Brazil, with the rich at the top, the poor at the bottom, and a vital tradition of music and dance. Its centenarian queen keeps a tight rein on the tech—electronic and pharmaceutical—that allows for intensive state security and bodily modification. Privileged but rebellious June and her best friend Gil live on Tier Eight, and when they get involved with Enki, a beautiful bottom-tier resident who will serve a year as the summer king before his ritual sacrifice, her political art gains attention, and things get dangerous. In her YA debut, Johnson (the Spirit Binders series) depicts a future that’s recognizably Brazilian and human—June may have nanohooks, holo screens, and light implants, but 400 years on, teens still resent their parents and find ways to subvert the technology their elders theoretically control. With its complicated history, founding myth, and political structure, Palmares Três is compelling, as is the triple bond between June, Enki, and Gil as they challenge their world’s injustices. " - Publishers Weekly starred review

An art project, a rebellion and a sacrifice make up this nuanced, original cyberpunk adventure.

"June, 17, remembers the last sacrifice of the Summer King, nine years before. In a future Brazil, after climate change, wars, natural disasters and plague have devastated the world, Palmares Três is a peaceful and just city, technologically supported with holos, nanohooks and bots. Beneath the city's glittering facade, however, there's another reality. Youth is stifled while the governing Aunties keep Palmares Três static in a class-stratified society centuries behind the rest of the developed world. June and best friend Gil, both relatively privileged artists, happily spend their spring dancing, creating public art and voting for the newest Summer King to be sacrificed for the city's prosperity after a year. When gorgeous, dark-skinned Enki is elected, both June and Gil fall for him—but it's Gil he takes as a lover, and June he takes as an artistic collaborator. Their love triangle, in a city with no gender-based limitations on romantic or sexual partnerships, is multifaceted, not the usual heroine-chooses-between-two-boys dynamic. As the trio dances—often literally—around one another, June must negotiate between the extremes of stasis and post-humanism, learn to see beyond herself, discover the meaning of integrity, and maybe even save her rotten-at-the-core and best-beloved city." - Kirkus starred review


Product Details

  • File Size: 5975 KB
  • Print Length: 307 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0545417805
  • Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (March 1, 2013)
  • Publication Date: March 1, 2013
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00B925W42
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #151,061 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Alaya (pronounced ah-lie-ah) lives, writes, cooks and (perhaps most importantly) eats in New York City. Her literary loves are all forms of speculative fiction, historical fiction, and the occasional highbrow novel. Her culinary loves are all kinds of ethnic food, particularly South Indian, which she feels must be close to ambrosia. She graduated from Columbia University in 2004 with a BA in East Asian Languages and Cultures, and has lived and traveled extensively in Japan.

(And you can email me, too: alaya [a t] alayadawnjohnson [d o t] com)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Mariko on February 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Alaya Dawn Johnson's "The Summer Prince" is very much a contemporary work yet evokes the quality of classic science fiction (Asimov, Huxley, Atwood etc.) that the genre has lost in a quagmire of space operas and dystopic battle-royales. It posits a future version of our world that is easily imaginable given the state of contemporary technology and society, and explores the inherent dangers, not so much in technology itself, but in how humans might (mis)use it. Consequently it becomes a gripping analysis of human nature, life, power, and the socio-politcal workings of the world. A world that takes for granted the fluid nature of sexuality, explores the pitfalls of chasing immortality, assisted suicide, the convergence of ritual and technology, the balance of power and mutual disrespect/lack of communication between youth and extreme age in the form of everlasting "youth"--Johnson's "Summer Prince" has it all.

Yet at its heart, "The Summer Prince" is the story of one girl's tumultuous journey towards maturity and her relationship with those she loves. June Costa is a girl with a mission, who wants to do what's right, but who is very much navigating the pitfalls and inherent narcissism that results from being a teenager. June is (usually) deeply reflective about the outside world, but is still learning how to be introspective. You can feel her growing up throughout the story. If Johnson hadn't written her questioning her own obsession with winning the Queen's Prize, it might have felt contrived--her desire for the prize was completely irrational. But desire is irrational.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Blanca Welsh on June 29, 2014
Format: Hardcover
First and foremost, I should mention I did not finish this book. I do not think it is fair to rate a book based on number of stars, when I did not in fact finish it, so unless I am forced to, this review is unrated.

I wasnt able to finish the book because I was disappointed in the book. I must admit, I have a bias. I dont admit to know Brazilian culture 100%. But I am learning,through having Brazilian friends, learning more about Brazilian culture through the experiences of Brazilian women, and just through my own personal experiences being Afro-Latina, and wishing to know more about the experiences of being Afro-Latina outside of my own Afro-Cuban heritage.

I love the author, I love that she dares to write women of color, when so many things out there dare to silence the voices of women of color in SFF. But I found this story rather problematic in many ways. I dont find that the portrayal of Brazilian culture is accurate, and while it's the author's interpretation, it may offend a person of Brazilian descent for a number of reasons.

I did like a few things. But the things that I liked, were often countered with things I did not like.

I loved the idea of the world building. I should probably say, I liked that someone thought Latino culture was interesting enough to let it shine through the future, where it is often left out, particularly in SFF. At times Im not sure how non-Latinos view the various cultures of South American, Caribbean, Central American, and various parts of the world that speak Portuguese and Spanish as a first or second language(Macau, Mozambique, Angola, and Equatorial Guinea to name a few). They almost never feature people who are latino, which is insane, considering the growing population.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Nemo on August 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover
In order to fully give my thoughts on this book, I am going to have to write about major plot points, so a warning... spoilers are ahead!

I was really interested in reading this book. I have read two of Johnson's previous works and found her to be a young writer who has never blown my socks off, but shows some promise-"Racing the Dark" was truly an interesting book, and "Moonshine" which was okay but didn't stand out from the crowd - and I was interested in seeing how she used the theme of the sacrificial king/ sacrificial agricultural god/ dying-reviving god. Sadly, I was pretty disappointed in the result.
I will say that part of my dislike of the book is something that will probably not be an issue for others. I just finished my MFA in visual arts, and the main character of "The Summer Prince" is an artist, and the first 180 pages or so focus heavily on June, the main character, making art. This wouldn't be so bad, except while Johnson seems like she admires art, she obviously knows very little about it and has never done it. In one scene June masturbates thinking about her work. I don't have any issues with a female teenager masturbating in a book, but the idea of an artist masturbating thinking about their work? It's just ludicrous. Thinking of my work includes things like, "I need to stretch paper tomorrow," "I need to get the charcoal out of the carpet, hopefully I don't have to get a steam cleaner again," "How much transparency did I put in that color?" "This lithography stone better not scratch because I really don't want to spend another two hours graining it," etc. etc. Artwork is work, and thinking about it isn't sexy.
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