The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Synopsis: 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

Review: Immediately I was very attracted by this book. The synopsis was very attractive too and the cover so beautiful, to the point that I couldn’t resist. The idea of a futuristic Brazil where human sacrifices are practiced was something quite new to me and I was very curious to discover more things about it. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm quickly collapsed with the first few pages. 🙁 Indeed I didn’t manage to connect to the story and I really regret it because it’s the first time I read such an original novel.

So here we are in Palmares Três, a pyramid-shaped city governed only by women. At the head of this matriarchal society, there is a ‘Queen’ and the ‘Aunts’. Once every five years, a king is elected. His influence within the government will be more or less significant depending on whether we are in a lunar or solar year. But the most important thing here is that no matter what if they are lunar or solar, all kings are killed during a ritual whose purpose is to designate the Queen. Enki has just been elected. He is the Summer King so he has no much time to live. But Enki is not like the other Kings because he comes from the ‘verde’, the most disadvantaged area of the city, it’s located at the base of the pyramid.

To tell the truth, I don’t know what to think about this book. Even if I didn’t like Alaya Dawn Johnson’s writing style, I must recognize that The Summer Prince didn’t leave me indifferent. It is a very original but also a very complex novel. I had to go back and read again many passages to make sure I understood everything. Many things annoyed me during my reading. The words invented by the author bothered me: while some of them seemed easy enough to guess, others, however, seemed to me less obvious. So because of all this futuristic vocabulary, I had some difficulties to picture most of the descriptions. Another point that annoyed me: the absence of chapters. The book is divided into four main parts which are in fact the four seasons of a year. The novel itself is already quite complicated so it’s confusing to have such a division. Finally the lack of information about the world before the cataclysm and everything that led to the creation of Palmares Três and its unique system is quite unsettling. Nothing is really explained and the little things we discover in this book are unclear. In short everything is rather confusing.

Concerning the characters, it was hard for me to really appreciate them. The heroin, June lives only for her art. She’s a rebellious teenager who is trying to find herself. Her relationships with her mother are conflicting. June reproaches her mother the death of her father and blames her of remarrying someone else. A strange relationship starts between June, her best friend, Gil and Enki. I must say I didn’t expect that eroticism occupies such an important place in this kind of book. Indeed, the author broaches topics like homosexuality, bisexuality or prostitution in original ways. Enki is an enigmatic character and the presence of some passages from his point of view didn’t really help me to understand him better. I liked Gil however but unfortunately he is the character that is less present. The ending is fairly predictable but it’s the most logical and in the end I’m rather satisfied with this conclusion.

To conclude I think The Summer Prince is a very original exotic reading but unfortunately I didn’t enjoyed it. A good point however: all the references to traditions, culture and the Brazilian folklore. There are many words in Portuguese as well as many musical references and even cooking! It was interesting.

2mon pseudo

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