“The Summer Prince” Alaya Dawn Johnson

ARC (Advance Reading Copy). Published March 1, 2013. Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic). 289 pp.

TheSummerPrinceIn this dark, brooding futuristic view of Brazil where mods can be implanted into ones skin (ala Scott Westerfeld’s “Uglies” series), and where technology has achieved its highest level (ala M.T. Anderson’s “Feed,”) readers are introduced to Jane, her best friend Gil, and Enki. Since men caused the downfall of most of the Earth through their numerous wars, the Amazonian society of Palmares Tres, in which Jane, Gil and Enki live, only allows women to reign. In a cruel twist, those elected to become Summer Kings are allowed a semblance power for a year, but are then executed by the Queen at the end of the year as a type of ritual to showcase the power of women over men. With his dying breath and blood, the Summer King is supposed to choose the next Queen. With no other queen in sight, it stands to reason the same Queen gets elected every time.

When the story opens, Jane and Gil are anxiously hoping handsome Enki will be voted in as Summer King. He “wins” the contest to be elected King, knowing and desiring his own death after his year is completed.  Enki does not plan to spend his year as King quietly, and introduces Palmares Tres to quite a bit of rebellion. Within a short time Jane, Gil and the entire city are under Enki’s spell, and both are in love with him. As a result, neither want him to die, but his fate is inevitable.

“The Summer Prince” twists love, passion, advanced technology, agony and ecstasy together in a dystopian world, leaving readers to make decisions about whether it’s wise to accept everything at face value or make their own life changing decisions. Readers aged 14 and older will have those decisions, and more, to make when reading “The Summer Prince.”

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