The Summer Prince

The Summer Prince

by Alaya Dawn Johnson


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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.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780545417792
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date: 03/01/2013
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.38(h) x 1.03(d)
Lexile: 780L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Alaya Dawn Johnson's first novel for young adults, The Summer Prince, received three starred reviews, was longlisted for the National Book Award, and was a Kirkus Best Book of the Year. She is also the author of Love Is the Drug. She grew up in Washington, DC, attended Columbia University, and now lives in New York City.

Read an Excerpt


When I was eight, my papai took me to the park to watch a king die.
At first, all I saw were adults clad in bright blues and greens and reds, in feathers and sequins, in cloth glittering with gold and jewels. Carnival clothes for carnival day, but covered in the early morning chill with darker coats and shawls. I looked up at this mass of grandes like I had stumbled into a gathering of orixas. I couldn't see their faces, but I could see their hands, the way they twisted them around each other, or clicked through a string of rosary beads. Some held candles, some held flowers. They were dressed for carnival, but they were quieter than I remembered from other years. The legs and torsos swayed and jostled, but no one danced. A few of the men cried. For the first time in my life, I knew a carnival without music.
I held my papai's hand. He did not look at me. A strange sigh swept over the crowd, like the wind howling past the cliffside during a winter storm. A woman's voice boomed through the park, but I was too young, too close to the ground to understand.
"I can't see," I said, tugging at my papai's hand.
With some difficulty –- our neighbors had pressed forward, packing around us so tightly he hardly had room to turn around –- he knelt.
"This is how the world works, June," he said to me. "Are you sure?"
I didn't understand his downcast mouth, the crying from the crowd, the austere finality of the woman's voice on our city's speakers. Carnival was supposed to be fun and beautiful. But I knew, because my papai never asked me idle questions, that I was to consider my answer. That if I said no, he would leave me on the ground where I could see nothing I didn't understand, and understand nothing of what I heard. And if I said yes, the answer would change my life.
I nodded.

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The Summer Prince 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Mariko18 More than 1 year ago
Alaya Dawn Johnson's "The Summer Prince" is a contemporary work that evokes the quality of classic science fiction that the genre has lost in a quagmire of space operas and dystopic battle-royales. It posits a future that is easily imaginable given the state of contemporary technology and society, and explores the inherent dangers, not in technology itself, but in how humans might (mis)use it. Consequently it becomes a gripping analysis of human nature, life, power, and the sociopolitical 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 between youth and extreme age-"Summer Prince" has it all. Yet at its heart, "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 is navigating the pitfalls and inherent narcissism that results from being a teenager. June is deeply reflective about the outside world, but is still learning how to be introspective. This allows her to grow. 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 is completely irrational. But desire is irrational. June knows continuing to chase this prize after she's learned how corrupt the system is and her thirst for public recognition wanes, is illogical, but her inability to let go in spite of that is painfully realistic. Her relationship with her family and the slow revelation of the events surrounding her father's death are among the most compelling parts of the novel. Her friendship with Gil is delightfully deep. Though they drift apart whenever they get caught up in their own personal nonsense, they always find their way back to each other. June's growing friendship with Enki is also strong, and despite June's descriptions of how he affects her physically, feels more like an intellectual love affair than a romance. They understand each other on a fundamental, even primal level, akin to two missiles on an inescapable collision course: When they hit the explosion will change the world. Reviews describe June’s relationship with Gil and Enki as a love triangle, yet calling it such feels reductive. While it might have been more interesting if sex hadn't entered into the equation on the Enki/June side, Johnson creates a complex, layered and deeply nuanced emotional relationship between these three characters that is immensely compelling. The love that holds it together is varied, allowing the novel to explore different kinds of love that are equally powerful and all-consuming. Johnson does not privilege any one variety of love over the others, though the Gil-June and June-Enki sides of the triangle are arguably more fully developed. June, the central and narrating character, is naturally more knowledgeable and concerned about her relationship with Gil and Enki than their relationship with each other. Still, Enki and Gil's love for one another captivates Palmares Tres and pervades the story. Johnson's colorful and multi-dimensional cast of supporting characters, intriguing narrative structure, and vivid prose complete a novel that is as evocative (perhaps even provocative) as it is captivating. This is without a doubt her best novel to date.
chapterxchapter More than 1 year ago
I’ve been really interested in The Summer Prince by author Alaya Dawn Johnson ever since I first saw the gorgeous cover. After reading the description I needed to find out what the novel held in its contents. Honestly, The Summer Prince is a very original read and unlike anything else I’ve ever read before. Sci-fi, beautiful Brazil and a star-crossed romance that is doomed from the start? Count me in. The Summer Prince is set in a futuristic Brazil, main character June Costa finds herself fighting to get the Queen’s Award and prove herself to be the Best Artist in Palmares Tres with the help of the newly made Summer King, Enki. Enki himself is an artist who uses himself as his art, something that gives June and him something to be able to relate to—besides June’s best friend Gil; a young man who has fallen in love with Enki. Their year together leaves June and Enki growing closer together. While the two work together to find a way to create the perfect masterpiece that will win June the Queen’s Award they also begin to grow closer to each other. June, despite herself, falls in love with Enki. Enki who claims to love the whole world is also falling for June, but his illegal mods make it impossible for him to feel much of anything. The only problem with their newfound romance is that when Enki’s term as Summer King comes to an end he will be killed so that a new Summer King and a new Queen for Palmares Tres, can be elected. Like I said before The Summer Prince is unlike anything you’ll ever read. The first thing that I absolutely need to mention is the setting. It’s beautiful to imagine. Johnson does an amazing job with her descriptors when it comes to Palmares Tres. It’s described as this beautiful futuristic paradise where people brought up in the better part of the city have great lives, whereas the people who live in the lower class area of the city just barely get by. People like the newly elected Summer King, Enki. If you’re looking for a story where your imagination gets to run wild, The Summer Prince is definitely the novel for you. In The Summer Prince the characters were very interesting as well as the really cool culture, but at the end of the day I felt really distant from the entire cast of characters. Although it’s told in the first person, I found it very difficult to get in touch with the main character June. For a girl who is supposed to be a teenager she seemed way to mature and also a character that is hard to relate to. She had a lot of qualities that made her seem almost perfect except for a few things that stick out like a sore thumb. The same goes for most of the cast however I will say that Enki was my favorite character in the novel. The Summer Prince is a novel that is packed with descriptions and details. This did clash with the pacing of the novel and getting in touch with characters. While the writing was artistic I would also find my mind wandering off onto the topic of something random and unrelated to the book. There is also the topic of confusion, there were so many things that could have been explained better and could have clarified things that were hard to understand to begin with. The big thing I wanted to know, but it never really got explained is this: Is everybody in Palmares Tres bisexual? The Summer Prince was definitely a read that I had fun with. About a quarter of the way through I had a hunch about how the novel would end and was correct about it (yay!). Personally I think that what’s most fun about reading this novel is the imagination involved with causing the novel to play out like a movie in your head. Totally awesomesauce. The Summer Prince is a novel that some people might want to be cautious about while reading, there is a lot of sex and sexual innuendos used in the novel. While it isn’t anything too graphic it is something that some readers may get offended by, I advise some discretion to any readers who take that type of stuff. I’d recommend The Summer Prince to readers who are fans of romance, sci-fi and readers who are looking for a story that focuses on art and love.
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
Palmares Três is s shimmering city, a pyramid in the sea that is beautiful and brutal. June has never known a life outside Palmares Três and only know small details of places that came before her pyramid city with names like Brazil. But even the lovely greenery of Palmares Três can't hide the savagery behind the legacy of the Summer Kings. Summer Kings are elected by the people. At the end of their year they choose the next queen--the existing queen, but still it is a choice. Then the queen kills them. And it all starts again. June is used to this ritual. Everyone is. But things change when Enki is becomes the new Summer King. The first changes are small ones--impulsively choosing June's best friend Gil as a consort, a calculated act of rebellion during an election performance. Small things that hint at something far greater. For reasons she can't always grasp, June is drawn to Enki. Partly because every waka with a beating heart is drawn to Enki because he is just like them: another city-dweller marginalized because he is under thirty. But June also thinks she might be able to use Enki to take her art to a new level--to create on a bigger scale. As this unlikely but ultimately right pair sets out on a campaign of confusion and protest in the name of art, June can hardly imagine that together they'll change the course of Palmares Três forever in The Summer Prince (2013) by Alaya Dawn Johnson. The Summer Prince is Johnson's YA debut. There is a lot going on in The Summer Prince. The text is dense and rich with detail as readers are thrown head first into the unfamiliar, futuristic city of Palmares Três. The world building here is, without question, top notch. Johnson does an excellent job with it. The story structure, while messy in some respects, works and tightens the plot in clever ways as both Enki's and June's paths unfold over the course of four seasons. June is a brisk narrator who explains very little but that often enhances the epic scope of the story. That said this story felt very high concept and very distant. June is a motivated heroine with a singular focus until the very end of the story. Consequently her narrative is narrow at times forcing the story in strange directions. Really, all of the characters were often one-dimensional in their motivations and despite the short page length, it felt like the story dragged and dragged with several plot reveals coming too late to hold any real significance. June is an artist first and foremost and her shift from art-for-exposure to art-as-protest and then back to a simpler art-as-beauty is one of the most interesting aspects of this novel. Johnson starts a great discussion about art here--high concept, performance and transgressive--but with the stopping point of the story she also leaves much of that discussion unfinished. Unfortunately, all of this thoughtfulness in the plot and the setting made other aspects of the story glaringly incongruous. One of the biggest difficulties in the story is the age structure of Palmares Três. June is a teenager but that doesn't mean the same thing in her world as it does here and many of her choices are not the decisions of a teenager but a grown up. But that also doesn't work given the constructs of the world of Palmares Três. The story posits that people can live for centuries and everyone under 30 (wakas) are seen as little more than children. Given the prolonged life span it's fair to argue that they really are children (30 even seems a low cutoff to mark adulthood when talking about people who are 150 or older). Why then are all of these children--young people even by modern standards--treated like adults? June is diminished and dismissed for her youth throughout the story but is also doing everything adults do from a very young age (younger even than the 17ish years she is during the novel). This disconnect became distracting and brought into question every other societal choice in Palmares Três--why is June's school structure largely the same as our own is just one big question that comes up and threatens to shatter the entire premise. It is great seeing this post-heterosexual, pan-sexual society where love isn't always a black-and-white binary structure. But again it creates problems in the book. The dynamic between Gil and Enki and June feels off somehow. June says throughout the story that Gil and Enki are deeply in love--something both characters affirm repeatedly--yet in the end, when a decision has to be made, it isn't Gil who Enki tries to run away with. It's June. Gil gives June a pass for that, saying she tries to save Enki at least, saying if Enki has to be with someone else at least it is June. But the decision still felt strange and ill-fitted with everything else that happened between these three characters. The Summer Prince is technically fantastic and will demand consideration long after it's finished. The skill of Johnson's writing is obvious and so much of this story just begs to be discussed either in a book club or a classroom or just among a group of readers. However small choices in the plot with the social structure and the age of the characters kept detracting from the story. At first the problems are minor, but then they keep building up. This book is marketed as YA and features teen characters however much of the story would have made so much more sense if it had been marketed to an adult audience as a story about twenty-somethings. Recommended for teen readers who enjoy books with a literary streak or twenty-somethings (or older) who want a book about sticking it to the Man (or Woman as the case may be in this matriarchal society). Possible Pairings: The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi, Proxy by Alex London, A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, Extras by Scott Westerfeld, A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner
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LibertadAraceli More than 1 year ago
First and foremost, I should mention I did not finish this book. I do not think it is fair to rate a book based on number of stars, when I did not in fact finish it, so unless I am forced to, this review is unrated. 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. The idea of this matriarchal society of "Aunties" and "Queens" loosely based on the Candomble religion, is definitely an eye catcher. But it is met with a dangerously confusing, and hardly explained culture to why men are choosen as "Summer Kings" to be sacrificed at the end of the year. Apparently men destroyed the world, with it's nuclear weapons and what not. But it never stops the story to explain exactly why young men are sacrificed, or what it's supposed to signify. Is it to show the humility of man? Is it to make sure men know their place? None of these questions get answered throughout the course of the story. I also loved the cover, but it is completely misleading. One would insinuate an Afro-Brazilian with "natural" hair from it's cover. But the main character "June" is actually described as pale skinned. And then she's not. And then she is again. I had no real sense of what June looked like outside of her Afro and fair skin. But she seemed like a "morena", or a mix of "branca" and "morena clara." I would have been okay with June not being Afro-Latina, but their society nearly omitted black people. Apparently you went through specific modifications(which there are also many cosmetic procedures that they dont explain)to prevent having black children. Perhaps had I finished the book, I would've found some reason why and how they benefitted from having a homogenous society, but alas, it was just another way to make Afro-Latinas like myself more invisible to the media. I felt as though this book could have really been an eye opener to let people know Latino is not a homogenous culture. Latino comes, Black, White, Asian, South Asian, Western Asian, nearly all of the above. If everyone looks the same what is the point of mixing the African culture into the mix. Which lead to my next issue. The chosen Summer King Enki. He was a Black Brazilian, with dreadlocks, and exceedingly handsome. But his presence in the book is often exoticized so much, I found him unlikeable. I liked him, and wanted to, but the writing suggested everything interesting about him was due to him being Black, and because there were no other Black people, many felt this was an ok way of thinking. I liked him, and I'll shot this out. He was a Capoeira practitioner, which I loved! But the author spent too much time telling me he was black, and not enough time making him a great character. The pacing and flow of the story are often slowed down due to the prose. I may be wrong, and I admit to making an educated guess here. But having a Brazilian friend, whom I speak with regularly, it seems as though the author wrote the dialogue to match how things would be said or spoken if they were in the Portuguese language. I actually didnt dislike that. I found it confusing, and while it threw off the pacing for me, it made them appear more elegant than mere teenagers. I didn't finish the book, so I cant judge the predictability of the story, or any conflict that I may have missed. I still didn't know who the villain was by page 140, and the book is 288 pages long. I didn't know what the true conflict of the story was either. Overall, if I were judging the prose on how much I understood? I wouldn't have been able to, because it didn't have a great flow to it, and many times you find yourself lost in description. Diversity? I don't know how to judge this. On one hand, by default every single character is Latino. But the story chooses to omit anything that isnt "pardo" a term many Brazilians already identify with. I don't however find the society full of brown people. It was seldom when a character was described as such, and many of the main characters appeared to have lighter features, finer hair, and pretty much everything that's wrong with the current state of Latino culture in the first place. I guess I assumed that the world would be created to improve the current state of colorism many Latinos already face or ignore. What is the point of a Brazil that kind of already exists? Because it's futuristic? Perhaps if I knew nothing about Brazil, I could have enjoyed many of the things I found fault with, but I just could not. They also had a pan-sexual society, which I thought was cool. They didn't explain why they had one, but I didn't really need it explained to me. It's somewhat Queer friendly. Mainly because there aren't any labels to be held to, and you are not judged for dating or marrying the same sex. And while I want to praise the sexuality in the book, I cant, because it insinuates Brazilians to be more casual than they are when it comes to sexuality. Many already view Brazilians as hyper sexual. I did not think it showed sexuality in a positive light, but I like that it was, at the very least attempted. Character names? I found them to be unique. Mainly because in Brazilian culture, many choose to give biblical names. My friend, she and all her sisters are named Maria. But it is customary to go by a middle name. Unique names she claims one would actually get made fun of for, so it is interesting that the author didnt go that route. The Summer Prince's title is also misleading. There are no "Summer Prince's." Only "Moon Princes" and "Summer Kings." Which also wasnt explained . But I only read half the book, so maybe it would've been explained if I hadnt stopped reading. Overall, I would read from this author again. Her views on diversity were what attracted me to her author brand. I just didn't connect with this story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
rule #1: ALWAYS find a reason. Drop you pen near him. Or as your walking by, "drop" your homework. rule #2: Friend his friends. Then, if he wants to hang with them he'll hang with you. rule #3: Be your-self!!! MOST IMPORTANT RULE!!!!! If your under 14 or 15, DON'T DATE!!! YOUNG GUYS ARE IMMATURE AND OLDER GUYS WILL TRY TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR EMOTIONS!!! Hope i could help. Xoxo OZ B