Rose's Reviews > The Summer Prince

The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson
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I don't normally do this for any book, but I'm going to remove my review and try to do a rewrite of it because my wording on my issues with this book was poor and I think I can do a better job of explicating what I found wrong with this novel. Not sure when I'll rewrite it yet.
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Reading Progress

August 3, 2012 – Shelved
February 11, 2013 – Started Reading
February 11, 2013 –
page 22
7.61% "Deciding to throw caution to the wind, buckle down, and read this. I'm not going to worry too much over the fact I'm working on a similar themed WIP (YA South American dystopian), because this is very different than my project. \n \n For all intents and purposes, I have to admit the writing in this is quite beautiful in its lyricism. Very sparse/threadbare worldbuilding though, and that bothers me for the beginning."
February 12, 2013 –
page 28
9.69% "Picking up where I left off and reading this during my lunch break. Y'know, for all the details and the fact that I like the descriptions of Enki and the characters, I do have to ask - why is this all relevant? Why does the Summer King have to die? What happened to the old Brazil? I don't know if I'll get answers to these questions, but I'll keep reading. It's pulling me, but not as strong a pull as I hoped."
February 12, 2013 –
page 67
23.18% "I think my main problem with this book might be that I have issues with June, the protagonist/narrator. Although there's a part of me that want to gush a bit over the Enki/Gil pairing (hint: boy love), I feel like I don't know their characters well enough in the scope of things either. \n \n Still reading. At the very least, I can say I like the atmosphere/language of the book in some turns."
February 12, 2013 –
page 87
30.1% "Okay, I loved the description of Enki and June diving into the water in the last scene. That was pretty sweet imagery. Still reading. I think I'm finding my flow with this a little more, let's hope it keeps the momentum."
February 14, 2013 –
page 128
44.29% "Still reading. I think I'm hitting another wall in this part of the book. I should be reading faster through this, but it's a combination of having delays and the book not clicking with me as much as it could."
February 14, 2013 –
page 162
56.06% "Ouch, ouch, ouch. June's mother is insufferable. I can't say that I'm all that enamored with June either in points, but still...yikes."
February 14, 2013 –
page 192
66.44% "I know there's a war going on between the technophiles and June's party, but I'll admit I'm at a loss for the conflict between the sides. And people are dying out of the blue. \n \n Still reading. I'm getting close to the 100 pages left mark. I'm going to keep reading until my eyes are too tired to do so. May or may not finish tonight if the momentum picks up.\n \n I'm still lukewarm on the read overall."
February 14, 2013 –
page 220
76.12% "Seriously June? You would value your art and an award over two dead wakas and the overarching war that's surrounding you?\n \n Man...>.<"
February 14, 2013 –
page 253
87.54% "Oh come on. Enki and June run off so that Enki doesn't have to die and they both leave Gil behind?! Ugh. >.<\n \n I'm in the home stretch at least. I'm not really sure how this is going to end."
February 14, 2013 – Shelved as: dystopia
February 14, 2013 –
page 302
100% "I haven't felt this conflicted in my thoughts about a novel since reading "Marbury Lens" some time ago. Parts of this I liked the imagery for, but it failed to connect for me. Part of this was the rather disjointed flow of the work and lack of connection with the characters. The world is interesting, but not concrete. My rating isn't going to be higher than 2 stars. Review to come."
February 14, 2013 – Shelved as: young-adult
February 14, 2013 – Shelved as: arc-or-galley
February 14, 2013 – Shelved as: characters-of-color
February 14, 2013 – Shelved as: dystoromance
February 14, 2013 – Shelved as: fantasy
February 14, 2013 – Shelved as: great-premise-lacking-execution
February 14, 2013 – Shelved as: netgalley
February 14, 2013 – Finished Reading
March 30, 2014 –
1.0% "Undertaking a re-read of "The Summer Prince" via audiobook. I can already say I like both of the narrators so far representing Enki and June. I'm hoping it's a better experience than my first read (and admittedly this is the final copy, not the ARC). \n \n I'll let you guys know how it goes, but I'm nervous considering my first two times reading this weren't that great of an experience."
March 30, 2014 –
10.0% "Audio narration is stellar. The vivid descriptions provided by Johnson's prose are as beautiful as I remember but I still feel empty on the depicted world and the heart of the characters themselves. The audio narration would be a good alternative if people can't get into the book because the performances are really true to the characters, but may be a struggle to get the terminology because they aren't clear cut."
April 2, 2014 – Shelved as: on-hold

Comments (showing 1-16)




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message 16: by Rose (new) - rated it 2 stars

Rose Skyla wrote: "Great review. I am sad that it wasn't as good as we hoped it would be. Not sure if I want to read this now."

Thanks Skyla - just finished up the last bit - wasn't as long of a write as I thought it would be.

Actually, I was worried that I wouldn't cover most of the issues with the narrative here, so it makes me feel better that the review was helpful to you.

If for some reason you do read it, I'd like to hear what you think of the narrative itself. I actually liked many of the ideas here (she is quite an imaginative author in places, with good attention to imagery), but the execution was all over the place. Plus, it had thematic/focus issues. =/

I think Zabet's review covered a good part of the problems with it (content, thematic) as well.


Lottie Eve I love this review even though I loved the book. I do agree with you that the characters are hard to connect to though. Again, great review! Your reviews are always so well written and informative :)


message 14: by Yasmin (new) - added it

Yasmin Carli Everybody thinks that Brazil it's pure sex. Thats ridiculous and very offensive. This is why I hate when some authors try to fit a novel here. Its pure nonsense, all this suffers of lack of realism and only serves to offend and label my country. Good review.


message 13: by Rhea (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rhea Very interesting ideas, Rose! Are you Brazilian?


message 12: by Rose (new) - rated it 2 stars

Rose Rhea wrote: "Very interesting ideas, Rose! Are you Brazilian?"

No, but you can say I'm very passionate about multiculturalism and worldly studies. =) I took a few classes of such courses in college - studied the history of countries in Latin America and South America.


message 11: by Rhea (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rhea No, but you can say I'm very passionate about multiculturalism and worldly studies. =) I took a few classes of such courses in colle..."

Well, I'm sorry this book didn't work for you.


message 10: by Wren (new) - added it

Wren is this lesbian?


Rose Julia wrote: "is this lesbian?"

No, the leading male characters are in a relationship with each other, so it could well fall under the depiction of GLBT.


message 8: by Wren (new) - added it

Wren so theres gay guys?


message 7: by Rose (last edited Nov 22, 2013 03:14PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Rose Julia wrote: "so theres gay guys?"

I'd consider them bisexual, considering their relationship with the heroine. It's a bit more than that, however, in the context of the book.


Rainbowheart But June's mom is married to another woman so there definitely is a lesbian relationship. I think at least June's mom is bisexual since she was also in love with June's dad, but it seems like most people in the book are bi.


message 5: by Rose (last edited Nov 30, 2013 03:49PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Rose Rainbowheart wrote: "But June's mom is married to another woman so there definitely is a lesbian relationship. I think at least June's mom is bisexual since she was also in love with June's dad, but it seems like most ..."

I assumed that Julia was talking about the main relationship of the protagonist with the two boys, so in that measure it wasn't nor was it the main focus, but yes, this book deals with GLBT relationships. And I would agree that June's mom was bisexual.


Sarahz You know, you mention in your review that you skimmed this book to some extent, and a lot of your complaints make that clear. Several of the things that you say aren't addressed are, very clearly. Why the king has to die, how torn up June is by the fact that her beloved city is coming apart at the seams...that stuff is all in there. It's a challenging book, I'll grant you that, but it doesn't seem like you gave it your full attention.


message 3: by Rose (last edited Mar 01, 2014 10:57AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Rose Sarahz wrote: "You know, you mention in your review that you skimmed this book to some extent, and a lot of your complaints make that clear. Several of the things that you say aren't addressed are, very clearly...."

Sarahz, I'll be blunt with you - I gave this book my undivided attention at the time I read it. I highly anticipated this novel, I read through it thoroughly and completely, even twice through to make sure I didn't miss any details. It did not impress me and it was one of the biggest disappointments of a work that I read in its given year. The prose was not streamlined well, the story felt choppy in presentation, the environment of Brazil wasn't depicted very well, and further - I found it very hard to care about the characters. What was there - I believed was threadbare and a bit cliche in places, though with some admittedly great ideas. It is true that June was torn apart by the falling apart of her city, but it was told NOT shown. I did not feel it and therefore did not feel for her experience. I didn't even feel much for June with respect to her clashes and frustration with her mother, because it felt like there was a distance emotionally in the work in her narrative, not to mention sometimes it felt like she whined about it, though I was supposed to feel her frustration.

The reason for the King's death was NEVER directly given, and I think that could've been better established than what it was.

This was the only book I was reading at the time. I have my galley and my respective notes that I took the entire time on my Kindle. Granted, the full book form may be different from the ARC that I received, but I was not impressed.

Your opinion may vary - you may have loved it - and you are entitled to that, but please do not try to undermine my review and reading of this book. This is MY opinion. This is what I felt about reading it, and I stand by 100% (though honestly, there are some points in the review where I think I could've been more clear about what was wrong with the depiction even more so than what I touched base on). It could've been a much better book, IMHO, than what it was. I'm not all discouraging people from picking this up, it had some beautiful moments and beautiful prose, but I was not impressed with it.

Every person's reading experience of a work is different and should be respected whether it's positive, critical, or the far measure between. I came into it with probably a different lens than others would. Thinking about it - if I read this again, I'd probably even give it a lower rating knowing what I know about the depiction of Brazilian culture and other issues that the narrative had. YMMV, and you have a right to that, but again - I honestly had many issues with this work. And I say this with a note that I love Alaya Dawn Johnson's other work. This didn't cut it for me.

My two cents.


Sarahz I can sympathize with not liking a book that you really expected to, and I understand why that made you rush through the book, but you yourself said, "I almost missed that scene entirely, personally, because I wanted to push myself through this. And I had a hard time in the read." You're definitely entitled to your opinion, and I can see how June is a very abrasive character that not everyone would connect to.

However, two reasons are given for why the summer king is given, one explicitly, and one implied. The first, is that someone who is facing no consequences for his decision can't be coerced. The notion is that's the only way the choice can be pure, and thus the oft-repeated, "his blood sanctifies his choice". Also, that no man can truly be trusted to give up power. The implied reason is that it keeps the male role in politics more ceremonial than actual, and keeps the genders imbalanced. This is touched upon when June wonders at why the queens never die, and at how some Aunties have stayed in very powerful roles for 50 years or more. She speculates that maybe moon years should've been for the queen and king's roles to switch.


message 1: by Rose (last edited Mar 02, 2014 10:38PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Rose Sarahz wrote: "I can sympathize with not liking a book that you really expected to, and I understand why that made you rush through the book, but you yourself said, "I almost missed that scene entirely, personall..."

I'll concede that your interpretation is correct (and I did get the implied meaning), but again, I feel it wasn't done well. At all.

Actually, I think your comments make me want to rewrite this review entirely, because if I wasn't clear about what was wrong with this book, then maybe I need to better explicate it.


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