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Summer Prince

Summer Prince


Summer Prince

ratings:
3.5/5 (30 ratings)
Length:
11 hours
Released:
Mar 1, 2013
ISBN:
9780545541343
Format:
Audiobook

Description

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.

Released:
Mar 1, 2013
ISBN:
9780545541343
Format:
Audiobook


About the author

Alaya Dawn Johnson is the author of six novels for adults and young adults. Her novel The Summer Prince was longlisted for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature. Her most recent, Love Is the Drug, won the Andre Norton Award. Her short stories have appeared in many magazines and anthologies, including Asimov's, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Interzone, Subterranean, Zombies vs. Unicorns and Welcome to Bordertown. In addition to the Norton, she has won the Cybils and Nebula Awards and been nominated for the Indies Choice Award and Locus Award. She lives in Mexico City. AlayaDawnJohnson.com. @alayadj.

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Reviews

What people think about Summer Prince

3.6
30 ratings / 35 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (5/5)
    Dense and organic storytelling. Reading this is a unique experience with science fiction.Thoughts from Page 34:Sometimes a story is read when it's needed. This one might end up as a regular reference for characterization and techniques for similar works depending on public reactions and reviews (I'll look up after finishing the book).
  • (5/5)
    At the end of 2012, Justine Larbalestier blogged that The Summer Prince would be the "Best YA book of 2013." I pre-ordered it right away, but not really because she said so. Not that I don't have a lot of respect for Justine's taste in books, but I already love Alaya Dawn Johnson, so I was excited as soon as I heard that she had a new book coming out. I was not disappointed. Complex and lush, tense, romantic, tragic and joyous in equal measure. I think everyone should read it who has an open heart.
  • (5/5)
    This book made me go "That was some fucking weird shit!" and point to the book when I finished it. While alone in the tub. It was that... that... How about this: You want to feel some crazy shit? Read this. Read this when you don't need something to make you feel good. Read this when you want a whole different world.
  • (3/5)
    Following a nuclear holocaust, the remaining population of the world has divided into cities that each live by very different rules. June Costa is a resident of Tres Palmares, in the former Brazil. Tres Palmares functions using older technology, and is run by "aunties" and a few uncles, led by a queen. Every five years, the populace elect a summer king who will be killed at the end of the year, and in his dying, select the next queen.
  • (5/5)
    Slow starter, but hang in there and it gets so good! I enjoyed it!
  • (3/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    This is another really hard review for me to write as I think that this novel has the capacity to polarise readers. There are some things that it does exceptionally well, but I still have an equal number of things that really do give me pause. However, you should probably be aware that while I do believe this book to be YA appropriate, it's certainly one for older teens as it's a very text-dense book and does contain a couple of sex scenes.The concept of this novel absolutely floored me. It's a beautiful cyberpunk novel that subtly explores a number hot themes including our increasing reliance on technology, the power of art and the ethics of euthanasia. Palmares Tres is a fascinating dystopia, seeming like a paradise to most who live there but slowly unfolding to reveal the corrupt political system at its core as June becomes more heavily involved with Enki. It made me think a lot of Ursula K Le Guin's short story, The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, as it presented a society that hinges its prosperity on the ritual death of their king.However, the novel felt shaky in its execution. If you want explanations in this story, you have to stick with it and read between the lines. Some key information, such as the events leading up to June's father's death, come relatively close to the end of the story. And still, the book did not adequately explain everything. The ritual and origins of the death of the Summer King is always kept particularly vague, forcing the reader to accept that this must occur without ever truly explaining why.The book also has a very odd structure, sometimes changing location or focus within the space of a few sentences and often choosing to tell rather than show. A lot of key events, including a few character deaths, occurred off page which somewhat dampened their impact. The plot of the story was also basically non-existent. While stuff happened and I never really got bored, it did not have much by way of structure. Until the final section, it was merely a sequence of events that filled out the year in which Enki was the Summer King.However, my biggest problem with this book was its cast. I really wanted to like the characters as they are incredibly diverse. None of them are white and Palmeres Tres culture seems to have no sexual taboos. The principle characters largely seem to be pansexual and engage in healthy mixed gender relationships. However, I never really connected with any of them. While I did like June a lot, her privilege made her incredibly naive and I felt her hostility towards her mother and Yaya was incredibly childish for an eighteen year old.However, Enki just wasn't my cup of tea at all. I just found him to be wholly manipulative, frequently tricking June into playing his games while knowing that it could endanger her future, freedom and life. The ending of the novel only serves to further twist the knife, showing that he holds no respect for her wishes at all. However, I did like the fact that his relationship with June was based more on a shared interest rather than attraction, which made a change from how novels of this sort tend to work.So all in all, I didn't hate this book. It offered a lot of food for thought and was certainly unforgettable. However, I think it was certainly a one-read and I'm unlikely to ever feel the urge to pick it up again.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (2/5)
    The book is interesting but I feel like it takes June too long to realize what's going on. June just feels too childish for most of the book. The details are interesting though and the description of the end of the story felt powerful and moving to me.
  • (5/5)
    This book was absolutely beautiful - I was in love within the first twenty pages. Johnson has a gift for evocative description; I've never been to Brazil, but I'm sure that this is exactly the kind of city that would grow up there out of a massive world-changing catastrophe. June is a wonderful point of view character, very much a teenager, brilliant and driven (both by her ideals and by her hormones) and Enki, while something of an enigma, is equally real. I figured out what Enki's plan was by about two-thirds of the way through, but it the book didn't suffer for it; watching June figuring herself out was more than enough.
  • (4/5)
    Plot: 3 1/2 stars
    Characters: 4 1/2 stars
    Style: 4 stars
    Pace: 3 stars

    A bit more coherent of a plot probably would have bumped this to a higher rating. It was episodic, and strung together unevenly, but I enjoyed it anyway. There was something instantly relatable about June, even though I often had trouble reconciling her verbalized motives with her actions. It ultimately built to something more than the disjointed prettiness. The world building on this was excellent, lush and sensual, and that in itself earned the 4 stars.
  • (4/5)
    VOYA Ratings: 3Q, 4PAs we stand today on the threshold of the future, technology offers us a plethora of potential worlds for to choose from. Of these worlds, many are bright and shining, promising to elevate the human condition to new and never before seen heights of existence yet we can rarely move ahead without carrying something of the past with us.In this novel by Johnson, we are presented with the futuristic city of Palmares Tres and its practice of electing and then sacrificially executing its King in order to maintain stability by observing a tradition started in a post apocalypse era Brazil. June is an idealistic young woman with an occasion penchant for illegal body modifying art and defacing public property. When her best friend Gil is chosen as the Summer King's consort she is quickly swept up into a world of social warfare and political intrigue as it is waged between the elite monarchy of the queen and her all female ruling class against the young and idealistic underclasses. Addressing themes of sexuality, social rebellion, and the role of technology in society this book weaves a story that remains intimately personal and compelling by fixating upon the lives and struggles as experienced by its well wrought characters.
  • (2/5)
    2Q - This book had an okay flow to it, but I had an extremely difficult time getting into it at all. Had I not been reading this for a class, I would have actually stopped reading this book. There were many parts of the plot that made absolutely no sense to me and which the author doesn't explain. For example, what purpose does the death of the summer king serve? If an author is going to introduce a device like that into their world building, they should at least bother explaining why it's happening and how it came into being part of the culture. I also didn't understand why there was SO MUCH SEX in this book. It didn't move the story along and honestly made the characters unlikable. Also, why is the book called The Summer Prince when the entire way through the book, reference is made to the summer king?3P - I gave this a 3P because I'm not sure that this would be overly popular. Sci-fi in general is kind of a niche genre that's not overly popular (except for the recent upswing in focus on "dystopian YA with strong female character") and this in particular is not a GOOD example of the genre. Quite honestly, as a huge fan of this particular genre, I am extremely disappointed that this book was used as an example for the sci-fi/fantasy module when there are so many other incredible options.
  • (3/5)
    4Q, 3P: Although I'm not a huge fan of sci-fi, I still think that the book was written well. The author did a great job of describing everything and I was able to build an amazing image of the town in my head. Still, I don't know how popular sci-fi is at my branch, so it could possibly take some pushing to get patrons to check it out. The post-nuclear city of Palmares Tres, formerly known as Brazil, comes to life in Alaya Johnson's novel about morals, self-awareness, and politics. In an effort to prevent further chaos and disaster, the "king" elects a queen solely for the purpose to murder her right before the next queen comes in. "This seemingly barbaric act is to ensure that the king, in the last minutes of life, will choose in an unhindered way with death quickly approaching."
  • (5/5)
    This book took me by surprise in a wonderful way. What starts as a simple sci-fi about an artist turns into a dystopian political adventure with a powerful message. I identified with June, with her uncertainty and desire to do the right thing (even if she didn't know what that was) and I think most teens will be able to relate. Palmares Tres is a city with a real voice, and provides a colorful and rich backdrop that makes me wish there were more books I could read set in this world.
  • (3/5)
    4Q,4P (my VOYA ratings)I loved the writing in this book, it's poetic and beautiful. I love the lack of boundaries regarding gender and in who one chooses to love and the openness to which people live in this world in this way. I love the description of the land and sea; the descriptions of the different levels of the Palmares Tres. I had a hard time following the story in places though. I also had a hard time understanding the meaning behind some of the traditions and rules in Palmares Tres. Science fiction isn't really my cup of tea so, I found myself somewhat disengaged with this story.Overall, I think the intrigue in this story exists in June's character: she is both wise and naive; artistic, beautiful, thoughtful and also careless and egocentric. I think her experiences mirror many aspects of adolescent development and because of this she is someone young adults can resonate with. I love the writing and the descriptive writing - not so much a fan of the story line.
  • (5/5)
    The Summer Prince is an intriguing story of love, art, and life intermixed. Told from the perspective of June the reader comes to experience the shedding of innocence of fantasy as reality becomes more complicated through the experiences and emotions that the characters face. At times it is difficult to understand the perspective of the narrator as the content is so extreme. A world in which human sacrifice is the means of supporting a government is just mind-boggling. While it might be easy to assume that this is a story about love and friendship the themes presented within the works are far more complex. It creates an image of a society built directly on the ruins of the graves of the generations that preceded. For the reader once is able to consider what is right and what is wrong in such extreme circumstances and realize the divide that exists in current society through the contrast to this fantastical world with our own.
  • (5/5)
    This is a story about love, art, friendship, growing up, technology, politics, and ethics set in Palomeres Tres, a futuristic Brazilian city that is governed by women: a queen and a retinue of "Aunties." The summer king is elected by the people to rule only ceremonially, and at the end of his term he must die after choosing the next queen. June, a young privileged artist from Tier Eight befriends Enki, the young summer king from the Verde (the ghetto), and together they create art that shakes up their city and fuels a growing rebellion. Despite their growing friendship, June must never forget that when winter arrives, Enki is slated to die. I really enjoyed the fully realized future Brazil Alaya Dawn Johnson created. The story was heartbreaking and surprising, and June's journey to self-actualization was bittersweet. When I finished this book, I had the feeling that I had just read something truly unusual.
  • (5/5)
    5Q, 4PI am an avid fantasy reader and really enjoyed the dark premise of this novel: sacrifice of human beings for "peace". I enjoyed that the cast for this novel is primarily minority, and takes place in a futuristic, dystopian Brazil where sexuality, age, and relationships are fluid and not as heavily stigmatized as they are today. I feel this novel is accessible to a wide variety of readers both teen and adult, and is primarily easy to follow and somewhat lyrical in prose. Often the story will pause and there will be a poetic interlude where the narrator reflects on some (disturbing) aspect of society. While some of the words written in Portuguese can be off putting for those not familiar with either Spanish or Portuguese, I feel that the novel is easy to follow with a compelling plot, sympathetic main character and a social examination of technology, race, class, language, and power and how it affects society.
  • (3/5)
    I read this YA book because it was on the Norton shortlist. It's not the sort of book I would have ever picked up otherwise, but I found it an intriguing read. Johnson created a very different sort of post-apocalyptic Earth. Generations after civilization restarted, June Costa is very much a "poor little rich girl." She's well off but plays at rebellion through her graffiti artwork. June is the sort of character I would hate if I actually met her, but the first person viewpoint grants more intimacy and understanding.As a YA book, this surprised me with the fluid nature of sexuality. It's not a book I could send to my teenage niece, that's for sure... or some adults I know. But as a vision of the future, it made sense.
  • (5/5)
    An intense, spiraling journey through art, passion, love and rebellion. The exploration of class, race and sexuality wrapped up in the simple act of "loving an Earthquake" is simply breathtaking. I am so in love with these characters that I can't help hoping for a sequel. Yet the way this novel ends is full of hope and beauty and is enough.

    "I love you, June."
  • (4/5)
    In a future Brazil, June Costa lives in the matriarchal society of Palmares Tres, a floating city-state in the middle of the bay. Her eighteenth year is an exciting one: it's the year that the Summer King will come from among the wakas, the citizens under thirty. In Palmares Tres, the older adults have most of the political power, but June's generation is still frenzied with excitement over the election. June and her best friend Gil are hoping that charismatic Enki, a dancer from the lowest tier of society will win -- even though winning would mean his death, something that all candidates for Summer King well know. After a year of power and excess, the Summer King selects the next ruling queen . . . and is slaughtered. It's a ritual that dates back to just after the nuclear war, when the government was just being established and the Y Plague was still killing off 70% of the society's men, when men were being blamed for the ruin of the world and women took charge of the country. But something will be different about this year, about this Summer King, though nobody knows it yet, and the fallout will change Palmares Tres forever.I've heard this book heralded as the best YA fiction of the year, and I've heard people say that they couldn't even get through the first few chapters. It's a complicated book, and the author makes the choice to write without info-dumping, so readers must pick up on the details of June's world through subtle clues rather than chunks of description and explanation. To top that off, the world's Brazilian roots will be unfamiliar to many readers. It's a rich and complex world, and I really enjoyed ferreting out those details, though thre are parts of the story that I never did exactly figure out to my satisfaction. But my main issue with the book is that I had a hard time caring about any of the characters. June is too self-centered, Enki less than, or other than, human, and Gil too flat to be really relatable. I also found that I enjoyed the story most when I could tune out the dystopia and the connections to our world, and just take it as a sci-fi story, because the idea of a future government where ritual human sacrifice was an accepted tradition strained my credulity. Readers who love a gritty, bloody dystopia will probably enjoy this, but it's not one I will revisit.
  • (2/5)
    Such a pretty cover gone to waste :(

    I could not get into this story. I finished it because it was short.
  • (5/5)
    There's so much going on in this book, I'm not actually sure how to begin unpacking it. To start with, Johnson has built a believable post-apocalyptic science fiction world without info-dumping. That means the reader has to be paying attention to the clues dropped and then actually think about it to figure out what this world looks like, what the language means, how the society functions. The issues Johnson manages to address are legion, so there's no way I'll catch them all, but here are a few: fear of young people (teenagers in particular), the myth of a utopian matriarchal political system, the power of music and art, socio-economic barriers and justice, and the place of technology in our world. Johnson does all this without sacrificing any depth of character or the relationships between people. There's also wonderful diversity in the characters (both sexual orientation and race) that affects the story because it influences who the characters are, but doesn't necessarily drive the plot. Then there's that twisty-turny plot itself - who knows how much when? Keeping track of that must have been a Herculean effort! Read this with Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi and Feed by M. T. Anderson for a variety of thought-provoking, but accessible science fiction future worlds.
  • (4/5)
    I really liked this. When I try to think of what to write in a review though I don't come out very coherent. It's definitely not a typical YA dystopia, although it sort of follows that. And it's a future Brazil. And gender. And race. And quiltbag. And stuff. And yea.

    I'm giving it 4 stars because my attention started to flag about 2/3rds in, but I'm still giving it the tag of awesome. I wouldn't at all mind Goodreads recommending me more books like it!

    I had to ILL it, but I'm going to suggest to our YA librarian that we get it here too.
  • (1/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    characters are not very well developed, fairly good utopian/dystopian world building, lot of sexuality

    1 person found this helpful

  • (4/5)
    There were parts of The Summer Prince that I just loved and parts that confused me. I loved how different this was from other YA sci-fi novels: it's set in futuristic Brazil, and the background to the setting contains elements of Brazilian culture and the Candomble religion. Also, the society of Palmares Tres is obviously feminist, something which I haven't found much, if at all, in other recent YA dystopias. The novel just had a completely different feel to it than many others of the genre. The plot was pleasingly unpredictable - aside from the love triangle, which does have some twists of its own, there's few of the cliches of this brand of science fiction.But there were aspects of the novel, however, that were not entirely satisfactory. I never got a good feel for June's character and what she actually felt and wanted. Her emotions and beliefs felt ambiguous. There were other times when it seemed like the reader was dumped too much in the middle of the futuristic society, with new technology and other elements popping up mid-novel without previous explanation. It took a while to figure out the political arrangement and jargon of Palmares Tres, and there were points where the plot just didn't seem to come entirely together. This had the potential to be an utterly stunning novel, but I think the issues in its details demote it to simply a decent and interesting read.
  • (5/5)
    The Summer Kings of the city of Palmares Tres live lives of unimaginable wealth--but only for one year. At the end of that year, they are ritually sacrificed. June has known this her whole life, but when beautiful, rebellious Enki is crowned Summer King, everything begins to change. June partners with Enki on a massive guerilla art project, while Enki falls in love with June's best friend Gil. As summer turns to fall and then winter, June realizes that Enki's time is nearly up--and she uncovers darkness in the heart of her shining city.This one took me a long time to read, because I loved the world so much--and I feared so much for Enki--that I didn't want it to end. A really beautiful, lyrical read with lots of references to the Epic of Gilgamesh. Highly recommended.
  • (4/5)
    I decided to read The Summer Prince based on the recommendation of Ellen Kushner and John Scalzi. I’m glad I did, I’m not a frequent reader of young adult fiction, but now I think that might be a mistake. It did take me a little while to get into the swing of this book, but I'm glad I stuck with it. Alaya Dawn Johnson is slow in laying down a rhythm and a melody in her pages and I stumbled along for a bit before my feet found the steps. Once I did, I enjoyed the rich and intricate dance she led me along.

    The story is structured into four parts, based on the seasons and I didn't realize I was falling in love with the book until the third section. Please don’t let this stop your from reading it; I don’t think it is a failing of the book. Structurally, the beginning is less interesting than the rest of the novel, but Johnson is slowly setting the stage for a moving piece. Like a musician playing a classic piece, we've heard these notes before, but she’s able to give a virtuoso performance by taking the notes to a different place than we’re expecting.

    There are two reasons I’d recommend this book to other readers. The first is the setting. It’s fabulous. Alaya Dawn Johnson has captured in her future city-state of Palmares Três a living and evocative mix of Brazilian Carnival, post-apocalyptic matriarchy, and a coming of age story that ignores our taboos. (It doesn’t flaunt contemporary hang-ups, it just refuses to acknowledge their existence, making an honest and innocent coming of age story possible.) The second is the emotional depth of June’s coming of age journey. Through her characters June, Enki, and Gil, Johnson is able to show us a lot about the nature of love that is sweet, tragic, and honest. She shows us a complex perspective on love that is neither cheap nor jealous but is both free and liberating.

    The plot is adequate, there are all the expected pieces in their expected places. Nothing is missing, but all this book were about is what happened in the story, it would not be remarkable. We’ve all read love triangles set in post-apocalyptic societies with bizarre social contests that victimize teenagers. You could draw a lot of crude lines between the structures in The Summer Prince to Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games. If you did, you’d be missing the point completely. The value of the story does not lie in its genre conventions. The value of The Summer Prince lies in telling us a familiar tale that takes us to unfamiliar places.

    If you read The Summer Prince, and I hope you do, here are a couple of things to think about along the way. There are two prime myths from Western culture lying at the foundations of the story. We have an expulsion from paradise myth and the willing sacrifice myth. As you read about Enki and June finding the key to knowledge of good and evil, think about the role of the serpent. Where would you expect the temptation to come from and where does Alaya Dawn Johnson put it? Second, what is Enki saving people from? What is he saving people for? I don’t think these are idle questions and a lot of people have used the same central myths without the effect that Johnson manages with The Summer Prince.
  • (5/5)
    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.
  • (4/5)
    The Summer Prince is an example of exquisite world-building. It takes place in a post-nuclear world, in the futuristic city of Palmares Tres, located in the country formerly known as Brazil. Capoiera, Portugese phrases, and Brazilian cuisine all contribute to the culture Johnson creates in this science fiction masterpiece. Many themes of the novel hit on highly relevant current issues – technological advancements, socioeconomic class structures, even how to deal with unsatisfactory political systems. Although I loved the above aspects of the book, what I think really made the novel work was that, at its crux, The Summer Prince was about June, a teenage girl unable to stop resenting her mother and mourning her father. Despite the advancements of technology and society, human relationships are still very central to the novel, especially the kinds of relationships many teens have. Best friends, family, and romantic interests all play a role in June’s life. Johnson does incorporate a great deal of neologisms unique to June’s world, which could potentially make this book a difficult read for some readers.5Q, 4P
  • (3/5)
    This story is set in the future in Brazil, in a city called Palmares Três. It’s one of the few surviving cities and it has tried to remember its past and limit certain technology because technological advancement is what destroyed the previous civilization. June, Gil and Enki are the three main characters, who are considered to be wakas (presumably those under 30?). Wakas are not taken seriously by the Aunties who run the city. June has a relationship with both Gil and Enki, which is common. Gil and Enki are in love with each other, but both are fully aware of their tragic future. Art means everything to June and Enki, while love is what drives Gil. June is trying to change the future of Palmares Três with her art displays.Palmares Três is run by women, which had the potential to be interesting. Palmares Três sustained itself on advanced technology, but the Aunties did not want to go as far as New Tokyo and allow its citizens to download their consciousness. I like that it was set in a futuristic Brazil because it’s a different setting for a dystopian novel. I will admit that I had a difficult time getting through the book (but I think that is just a personal experience). It took a while to develop the characters and I wasn’t sure what sort of “freedom” June was fighting for. It was thought provoking that ultimately the female leaders became just as corrupt as the male leaders of the previous civilization.I think this book would appeal to art students who are very passionate about their work. I think the dystopian setting is unique. I would recommend it to older students because of the open nature of sexual relationships. There is also a sacrifice that is reminiscent of pre-Columbian history. I think the reviews are all over the place on this book. I think the VOYA one is particularly harsh, but I do agree that it is not for everyone. I would recommend this book to students who are looking for futuristic, dystopian, post-apocalyptic, artistic, feminist themes. There is an unexpected twist at the end and I would have liked to see more with that then some of the detail from the beginning. I would buy it for a school library and I would recommend it to students looking for the above themes.