The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson
Published by Arthur A. Levine, 2013
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.
The Summer Prince is a tale of love, sacrifice, and art. It is beautifully stunning and highly original. And I am in awe.
The story takes place in a futuristic Brazil in a city ruled by women, ordained by men who are elected by the people and then sacrificed in the moment that they choose the new queen. The main character of this book is June, a student whose goal in life is to become a famous artist. Throughout the story, June and her best friend Gil become entangled in "The Summer King's" life, both falling in love with him in their own way. While June conspires with Enki to make her best art project yet (and win the queen's award), Gil has a more personal relationship with him. In the end, both try to save Enki from the sacrifice in their own way.
What stands out about this story to me is how the author has seemingly created a whole new culture to learn about and has placed characters there in these crazy situations which seemed so life-like to me. And also, how she made me really care about all the characters, not just June, Enki, and Gil, but even the secondary characters, even the characters we are supposed to hate.
Not only does the author do these things, but she has incorporated so many things I love into this world. Cities run almost like miniture kingdoms, crazy cool technology that makes you think about the way things are headed in this world, art, music, and even a touch of Candomble, which is a religion that really fascinates me.
I know this story wont be for everyone, but if you want to read some really great young adult science fiction that makes you think and throws in some fascinating characters, world-building, and beautiful prose, this book might be for you. It is not the kind of story you fly through in a day. It took me a few weeks to get through, but I'm so glad I did because it was one of the best books I've read this year.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.