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The Summer Prince Hardcover – 2013
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— 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
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
The book is classified as YA, but really could be enjoyed by anyone. A brilliant book. I am the richer for reading it, and it truly made me discover anew the vigor of my Brazilian childhood roots. Thank you, Alaya Dawn Johnson!
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I’ve been reading quite a few books which borrow from or are informed by mythical stories. It gives an odd effect, of having to build tension despite knowing in part how the story... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
The writing style of this is beautiful. The world is new yet a familar one. There didn't really seem like there was a plot but I still enjoyed. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Bhavya
You can read my full review here:
***I won this novel from IReadYA and Scholastic. However, all opinions are my own. Read more
The Summer Prince reads like an allegorical tale that requires a lot of focus in exchange for little or no enjoyment for having read it. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Kindle Customer
This review and others can be found at [...]
I received The Summer Prince as a part of a package giveaway at the Dystopian YA panel at bookcon, and after hearing Johnson... Read more
Greatly written with an eye for diversity, social justice, and modern perspective. A fun read.Published 11 months ago by melissa molloy
A good sci-fi starter book for older teens. Parents should read it first.Published 13 months ago by John S
This is an incredible piece of young adult fiction. I read about it on I09 and bought it and it blew my mind. Really outstanding.Published 14 months ago by Amazon Customer
In this dark, brooding futuristic view of Brazil where mods can be implanted into ones skin (ala Scott Westerfeld’s “Uglies” series), and where technology has achieved its highest... Read morePublished 14 months ago by SunshineRose