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The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson
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it was amazing
bookshelves: 2014-challenge, fantasy, stat_2, reviewed, favorites

Stuff I Read - The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson Review

I will start this by saying Yes. All of this. This is an amazing book and I am so thankful to WisCon for selecting Alaya Dawn Johnson as their Guest of Honor for 2015 because without that I might not have found this book and it is amazing. The setting is vibrant and interesting, a post-apocalyptic story that manages to do some incredible and new things with the genre. Set in Brazil, in a society where age has come to mean some very different things than it does now, it focuses on culture and art and injustice. And when I got to the end of this book I cried a little because it manages to be tragic and uplifting and I just couldn't hold it back. So yes, please, more of this.

The idea of art that entwines the story is one of the things that really stuck with me, the question of what you're willing to do. Is the art the important thing or is it about the fame? What are you willing to risk for art? And that's a very interesting question, one that is shown in stark detail when contrasting June and Enki. June is upper class, is comfortable, and while she sees herself as subversive, at the beginning of the story she doesn't really know what that means. She's dealing with her own pain, her own loss, and while she has some ideas on politics, she is still essentially selfish. Meanwhile Enki has aspirations of a different sort, and being lower class makes it so that his life is on the line. He is going to die for his art, and even then isn't wholly in control of whether it succeeds.

Of course, Enki isn't really above being selfish, either. There are the two sides, that Enki wants to be a martyr and June wants the respect of her (dead) father and they both are sort of overlooking all the people that they'll hurt to get what they want. And the people who get hurt, that's what the story is really about. This is about Gil and it's about June's mothers and it's about the people of the Verde and what you're willing to do for them. It's very well done and had me nodding and thinking and agonizing because the book is also tragic. You just want these kids to be kids, to be in love and do their art and yet hanging over all of it is death and loss. There is no real happy ending. Not the one that you really want, not Enki and June and Gil all together and happy.

Which, also, the book is great for having gay and bisexual relationships (all sorts of relationships, really) and showing them as normal in this setting. Because yes. Part of why I loved this so much was because it felt so empowering in that way. More of that. More June and Gil and Gil and Enki and June and Enki and not focusing on the dramatic triangle aspects but the way that they can each work. It was amazing and makes me want to read so many stories like this. It makes me ache for a world filled with people who have read this book. Because that would be a better world. Ahem. Sorry, getting away from the review a bit.

In any event, this book is amazing. Amazing! The plot is solid and sleek and just works. The tragedy, the inevitability of it and yet the change, the hope. There is a lot going on, a lot of empowerment being advocated in the society of the book, and a lot to unpack and examine. This is a great book, and one that i want more of. More. Which means, of course, that I'm giving it a 10/10.
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Reading Progress

June 21, 2014 – Shelved
June 21, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
June 21, 2014 – Shelved as: 2014-challenge
June 21, 2014 – Shelved as: fantasy
December 7, 2014 – Started Reading
December 7, 2014 – Shelved as: stat_2
December 13, 2014 –
page 73
25.26% "Goddamn that's good."
January 3, 2015 –
page 289
100.0% "This is exactly the kind of book I want more of. So amazing."
January 3, 2015 – Finished Reading
January 12, 2015 – Shelved as: reviewed
February 20, 2015 – Shelved as: favorites

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