The Summer Prince, by Alaya Dawn Johnson
June is the best damn artist in Palmares Tres. She tells us so herself, and at first, it’s more bravado than anything. But by the end of The Summer Prince, she’s actually getting there.
In futuristic Brazil, every five years, a beautiful young man is chosen as the Summer King. He has a year to rule before he is ritually sacrificed, his throat cut. Enki, an artist from the slums, is the first Summer King that rich-kid June is old enough to see as a peer. As she befriends Enki, June starts to question society’s traditions. June is changing, and so is her art – morphing from the permissable to the colorful, bold, and larger-than-life. She’s risking her career, the prestigious scholarship that will gain her the best training, high status, and wealth as an artist – but is that still the life that she wants?
Prince has everything a young adult dystopic novel should. It’s got a rigid class hierarchy, backroom conspiracies, racial tensions, and a hefty dose of environmental crisis. Young people getting fired up to overturn a corrupt regime, art as activism, rich sights and sounds, cool future-slang and mega-cool future-tech. Also adventure, and danger, angst about identity, and the heady hormonal throes of young (queer!) sexuality. Recommended for a fun summer read.
The 214 in 2014 series chronicles every book I read in 2014. Each review contains exactly 214 words, because 2014 words is too long and 2014 characters is too dang short. And yes, this review is backlogged from 2014.
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