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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Review: The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Publication Date: March 1, 2013
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine
Stand Alone Novel
Young Adult
Pages: 304
Genre: Science Fiction, Romance

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.

*Digital galley provided by publisher for an honest review*

I'm so upset with the fact that I just couldn't enjoy the story behind this novel.

Gorgeous cover. Smooth and poetic writing. The world-building of this futuristic technological pyramid city set in Brazil enamored with art. I wanted it to work. I really, really wanted to enjoy this. I love art. I love Sci-Fi. I love that this was set in such an exotic area. But I just found that The Summer Prince had no driving force and no explanations behind the culture of the novel. Things

Why do they choose a Summer King just to kill him? Why would anyone want to be a Summer King, knowing full well that they were going to die? Is the fame worth the death?

I will never know. I had gotten so far without any explanation to the culture of Palmares Três that I knew I would never know. And I don't like that.

Confusion plagued me. Between the Portuguese words popping up everywhere without ever explaining what what meant definitely put me through a loop when "waka" kept repeating itself in dialogue and narration. You don't want to just sit there staring at the word and thinking to yourself "What in the hell do you even mean?" I didn't know if Johnson was making up her own words for her novel or there was actual meaning. And, in the end, whenever I read I just found myself getting lost or wandered down the road to where sex was casually thrown around.

Now I don't have a problem with sex in novels. I enjoy when the scenes are subtle and have meaning. The Summer Prince was very keen on bringing up sex whenever it felt necessary or even out of the blue. Some scenes in the book with June and exposing herself for a crowd of people just felt very off-putting and turned me away from wanting to know more.

I really can't tell you anything special about the characters. They all fell extremely flat for me when the story just didn't work. They were all just names. If I had to pick a character that I liked Gil would be the only one that really came to mind. Enki and June just didn't make the cut nor really stood out to me as important as they were supposed to seem, being main characters and all.

Final Summation: Very disappointed with this novel. That's what I get for going in with high expectations and being deceived by that gorgeous cover. If things had been explained more about the reasoning for the killing of the Summer King, June's reasons for accusing her mother for her papai's suicide, and what some of the words really mean, I'm sure I could have gotten into the fluidly written novel. The lines just didn't match up with all these missing pieces.

First Line: The lights are out in Palmares Três.
Story: DNF
Cover: XS