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The Summer Prince

Johnson, Alaya Dawn (Book - 2013 )
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
The Summer Prince


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In a Brazil of the distant future, June Costa falls in love with Enki, a fellow artist and rebel against the strict limits of the legendary pyramid city of Palmares Três' matriarchal government, knowing that, like all Summer Kings before him, Enki is destined to die.
Authors: Johnson, Alaya Dawn, 1982-
Title: The summer prince
Publisher: New York :, Arthur A. Levine Books,, 2013
Edition: 1st ed
Characteristics: 289 p. ;,22 cm
Statement of Responsibility: Alaya Dawn Johnson
Summary: In a Brazil of the distant future, June Costa falls in love with Enki, a fellow artist and rebel against the strict limits of the legendary pyramid city of Palmares Três' matriarchal government, knowing that, like all Summer Kings before him, Enki is destined to die.
ISBN: 9780545417792
0545417791
9780545417808
0545417805
9780545520775
0545520770
Branch Call Number: y JOHNSON 2013
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Report This Nov 21, 2013
  • pfsheckarski rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

This book's most remarkable for its vivid world-building, its depiction of a matriarchal society, and its progressive treatment of sexuality, esp. with regard to its LGTBQ characters. Many readers will see its appropriation of Brazilian and Japanese cultures as problematic, and probably rightly so.

Report This May 30, 2013
  • Yahong_Chi rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

It all starts with the worldbuilding. This is genuine sci-fi at its best, a whole new world fully realized from the tiers of the pyramid city to the verde and its catinga to Tokyo 10 and its immortal datastreams. Palmares Três is a real city in these pages, and it makes everything about the book so much truer. The themes in this book!: technology is at once deadly and beautiful, art struggles with ambition, death questions meaning. Sexuality is dealt with openly (LBGTQ relationships are normal and our protagonist masturbates in one scene), and the matriarchy is thought-provoking and thorough: "It's okay to cry," he says. "Gil, you know I hate it when you sound like an agony auntie." He laughs. "Am I wrong?" "It's fine for you to cry. You're a beautiful boy." "So girls don't cry? June, I never knew you were so conventional." (p.83) June, oh, she's not immediately relatable, not your insta-friend. She isn't because she's finding herself, figuring out what's important and what's right. And with the stakes so high, you sympathize with her. Don't we all, in the end, want to make something beautiful? Have something beautiful? The supporting cast: Bebel and the relationship she and June have is something absolutely fabulous. Here, ladies and gentlemen, is the mean, catty girl trope turned on its head. Gil. Oh, Gil. Sometimes, like June, I hate Enki for hurting him, for loving him, because Gil is such a force of nature it seems wrong. Gil and June have the type of friendship that's so wonderful it endears them both to you at the same time: Gil stroked my hair and I felt warm and happy as a lizard in the sun. (p.60) Gil dances like the old days, like he wants to tempt his own death. (p.225) And Enki. I still don't know if I like this boy or not. Can you love someone who loves the whole world? But at the same time, he knows what's right and what's wrong; and he doesn't love everything the same way. Not the way he loves June. I cling to that as his saving grace. THE ENDING. The last scene. You think Delirium broke your heart? There's nothing like letting your hopes breathe one last breath before plummeting into starless darkness. When you're finished the last sentence, go back to the beginning and read the first page again.

Read an interview with Alaya Dawn Johnson here: http://thebrownbookshelf.com/2013/02/03/day-3-alaya-dawn-johnson/. "Growing up, my favorite writer was Diana Wynne Jones. Fire and Hemlock and Hexwood especially inspired me, because of their complex narrative styles that wrecked havoc on reader expectations. I also hugely admire Ursula K. Le Guin, who is of course famous for her Earthsea series (what I guess would now fall somewhere between middle grade and young adult). But it was her adult novel The Left Hand of Darkness that truly showed me the transformative possibilities of social science fiction. Le Guin made everything I did in The Summer Prince possible. Her diverse future that questions many of the pieties of modern society made me understand the potential scope of science fiction. And finally, Kindred by Octavia Butler is also an adult novel, but one I had assigned by a particularly intrepid eighth grade English teacher. Her use of speculative tropes to explore the legacy of slavery has resonated with me ever since."

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