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The Summer Prince Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books; First Edition edition (March 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0545417791
  • ISBN-13: 978-0545417792
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.7 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #310,167 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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


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

I was also entranced by the writing style, which is lush without being cloying.
Sierra Black
And in all likelihood, they would get bored before they got to the sex scenes anyways, having given up on trying to understand the book.
Erin
Also there's a serious lack of bisexual characters in YA and this book has a bisexual love triangle!
Amanda Joy S.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 17 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. Su on January 4, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
It is with regret that I say I couldn’t finish this book. I got within several dozen pages of the end, and even then I couldn’t make myself finish. This book has so much going for it: the world-building of a future South American enclosed society that’s extremely hierarchical and matriarchal and sci-fi is one of the best I have encountered in books marketed as YA, and as a result of this spectacular world-building, Johnson had a LOT she could work with in terms of exploring dystopian ideas and socially relevant themes of art and technology and race-based issues.

Unfortunately, what THE SUMMER PRINCE lacked for me was an emotional connection with the characters. In between Johnson’s sinfully sensuous prose and her attempts to portray Enki as this beautiful and irrepressible, yet enigmatic, near-mythical being, it seems like there was lost the ways in which readers could concretely grasp the characters’ traits and motivations and desires. Enki read too much like a MPDG (except a guy) to me, and I don’t really have a problem with MPDG characters, except Enki’s character was much too slippery and bright for me to even grasp at the edges.

Johnson is a talented writer, having already published several acclaimed works. But perhaps THE SUMMER PRINCE would have been better marketed as not-YA, for in this genre in which so much depends upon readers’ connections with the characters, THE SUMMER PRINCE will have to face an uphill battle despite all that it has going for it.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Christal on March 7, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
See this review and others like it at BadassBookReviews.com!

Alaya Dawn Johnson's The Summer King pulled me in with the promise of a dystopian novel not set in the US or the UK. What it really became was a look at change and revolution and how far you should go to change a broken system. I did enjoy reading this novel, Ms. Johnson's prose was beautiful and descriptive, but I never fell in love with the main character, June Costa. I also felt that the world-building was a little hit and miss. The city of Palmares Tres (what was once Brazil) was imaginative and well-described, but the history behind the plague and why society developed as it did was less clear. The overall narrative developed at a very slow pace; the story changed from what is seemed to be about in the beginning to something completely different by the end. As an adult reader, I liked having to put all the pieces together but I wonder if younger readers might struggle a little with connecting everything into a cohesive narrative.

June Costa is a waka, someone under thirty, and an artist. She constantly feels she isn't taken seriously by the grandes, the adults, around her and decides to use her art to shake up the system. She starts at the crowning of the Summer King, a waka boy who is chosen to rule for one year and then give his life in sacrifice for the prosperity of the city, by staging a small piece in support of a boy named Enki. This small display is the beginning of June and Enki's lives entwining and was the catalyst for the majority of the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amanda Joy S. on October 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is a wow of a book.
To start, the writing is just phenomenal. The descriptive language is lovely. There is such life in the society that Johnson has created. What's amazing about this book is the cultural references. It's a society layered and built through cultural connections - the foremost being the African Diaspora and Brazil, though the legend the Summer King ritual is based on is Celtic - which ultimately builds a stunning backdrop to tell June's story. One of the most successful aspects of the story is the love triangle, though it is very untraditional. Also there's a serious lack of bisexual characters in YA and this book has a bisexual love triangle! Enki is definitely one of the hottest guys I've read about in YA and Johnson made him a full, round character while having him be the subject of obsession because of his beauty. And the selfless aspects of Gil, June's best friend and rival for Enki's affections, were very appealing. It was great to see a very loving relationship between FRIENDS in YA.
Besides all the amazing relationships portrayed in the novel, this book has some really significant things to say about art. I plan to pass this book along to a lot of people. This is a book I want young people to read. Truly great, 5 stars. I can't wait to see what Johnson writes next.
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