The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson
Release Date: March 1, 2013
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic Inc
Genre: YA futuristc/science fiction
Summary: “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.”
I’ll go ahead and warn you now: this book is a bit different. Does that mean you should run and hide from it? Nope! It’s the kind of different that will make you go “wow” and will leave you craving for just a little bit more.
THE SUMMER PRINCE follows a young, fiery, rebellious “waka” named June and the new infamous summer king named Enki. Both artists, both constantly scheming of ways to expose the Aunties and Queen Oreste. Palmares Tres is a beautiful pyramid city on the edge of a bay. It’s a bit hard to visualize at first but as the story progresses, you get more details that will help you piece it all together. Its poorest members live in the verde and the leaders leave all the way up on the top on Tier Ten. The rulers of the city are called The Aunties…all women, most of which are over the age of 100. You would never believe this though, given all the mods they have to keep their appearance young.
The story starts off rather slow and very confusing. I was lost for awhile, I admit. Ultimately, the first half of the book is centered around June and her best friend, Gil, and their fascination with Enki, the boy from the verde who is running for the summer king. They do anything they can to get to meet him in person. When they do, everything changes. June is an artist and thinks she is the “best artist in Palmares Tres.” Enki who is even more daring and rebellious, teams up with June to produce the greatest art project the city has ever seen for June’s entry for the prestigious Queen’s Award. As they are sneaking around and going against all the city’s rules to produce the art project, the inevitable death of Enki, a summer king tradition, makes them yearn for freedom. The Aunties and the Queen are up to no good and would never let the summer king live when his year term is up. A book about love, passion for what you believe in, sacrifice, and changing the course of the future is what you’ll find in this novel.
After much contemplating of exactly what I would say in this review, I’ve come up with something rather simple. It is a good book. It took me a long time to finally get into it. Once the plot picked up, I really enjoyed reading it and couldn’t put it down. I wouldn’t necessarily say this book is “heart pounding” as the summary suggests. There were some tense moments but scenes that could have been very heart pounding weren’t drawn out long enough for said heart pounding to happen. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t sitting up straight and on the edge of my seat, I was. I just wish there had been more to these scenes. The ending about killed me!! It was so heartbreaking and something I never even anticipated happened that truly put the cherry on top of the cake. Enki’s last monologue in the book cut me to the core and the tears flowed freely. When I finished, I was in a trance. Johnson knows EXACTLY how to perfectly end a book. Every emotion possible in less than 15 pages, I love it! As I said earlier, you will be left wanting more to happen. Well done, Ms. Johnson, well done. Even though some areas of the book were underdeveloped and the concept of the summer kings was slightly confusing, it was a good book and I would recommend it if you’re looking for a little rebellious adventure and the struggle of being in love with someone who is destined to die.
I had a very hard time rating this!
Overall Rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
Note: There were some concepts, ideas, and/or scenes that may not be suitable for people under the age of 16.
I received an ebook ARC of THE SUMMER PRINCE from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review purposes.