In a post-apocalyptic Brazil ruled by a council of Aunties, a teenage Summer King is elected once a year. For one year, he is famous, feted, and given anything he wants, not to mention having a limited amount of actual power. At the end of the year, he is ceremonially executed.

There is an in-story reason for this which readers may or may not find plausible, but I do find it completely believable that a fair number of teenagers would compete to be king for a year: live fast, die young, and leave a good-looking corpse. In fact, one of the most notable aspects of the novel was how convincingly teenage the teenagers are: idealistic and self-centered, impulsive and passionate, equally and alternately obsessed with sex and death, fashion trends and the meaning of art, hot celebrities and best friends.

June is a teenage graffiti artist whose best friend, Gil, falls for Enki, the glamorous, newly elected Summer King. Reluctantly, because she doesn’t want to screw up her friendship, she also develops a crush on the beautiful and doomed Enki. It turns out that June and Enki have quite a bit in common, and begin collaborating on dangerous, radical, guerilla art projects!

This novel has gotten a lot of positive press, but the rave reviews I read for it actually put me off reading it. The book was so highly praised for its politics that I got the impression that it was nothing but politics: worthy but dull, as if it should be consumed solely for its nutritional value. I didn’t read it until I was on the plane for Sirens, where Alaya was a Guest of Honor. So I was pleasantly surprised by how completely enthralled I was — and by how fun and even id-tastic it was!

Regarding id-tastic, let’s start with Enki, the object of desire. He is beautiful and doomed. He’s self-destructive, hot, a revolutionary, a dancer, and a king. He has connected himself to the city via illegal nanotech, so if something goes wrong with the city, he feels its pain and dramatically faints. If this is the sort of thing you like – and I am not ashamed to say that is the sort of thing I like – you will like this book.

The future!Brazil setting is vivid, the science fiction details are cool, there’s lots of sense of wonder, the love triangle didn’t make me want to tear my hair out, the plot moves fast, the characters are genuinely diverse, the hero has his nervous system wired into the city, and the heroine is a guerilla graffiti artist.

It’s got dark and serious aspects, but overall, it’s fun to read. This is not an “eat your broccoli” book. It’s a fruit tart with real fruit (so you’ll get your vitamin C) but the crust is made with butter, and there’s whipped cream on top.

The Summer Prince
oyceter: teruterubouzu default icon (Default)

From: [personal profile] oyceter


I really loved this book too! Guerilla art + teenage romance angst! Also, I really heart Bebel.
qian: Tiny pink head of a Katamari character (Default)

From: [personal profile] qian


I haven't read this yet, but have probably seen a lot of the same reviews you had. It's funny because I can totally see why you thought it would be broccoli, but I totally expected it to be dessert? Because:

1) real enthusiasm in the reviews I've read -- the kind you don't tend to see in reviews of worthy but dull books

2) (maybe more importantly) I'd read that Johnson wrote the book in a v. short period, and I knew she used to write fanfic. Of course doomed swoony revolutionary teenage kings. Of COURSE.
rymenhild: Manuscript page from British Library MS Harley 913 (Default)

From: [personal profile] rymenhild


You've sold me. Fruit tarts with real fruit under the id-tastic toppings are just the kind of novels I need these days.
ironed_orchid: pin up girl reading kant (Default)

From: [personal profile] ironed_orchid


I think you've just sold me this book. either that or I'm going to buy a fruit tart.
metaphortunate: (Default)

From: [personal profile] metaphortunate


I liked it but it was kind of ridiculous. Whatsisname, the boyfriend, eventually he's so in love he just kind of shuts down?
jinian: (clow reads)

From: [personal profile] jinian


After their big dance, Gil pretty much fails to be at all memorable. Which I agree is a bit strange for the *tragic*hot*amazing*romance* that captivates everyone. I think it's reflecting June's perspective of having her best friend disappear into said romance.

From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/_profiterole_/


Is it bad that I knew what the last sentence of your first paragraph was going to be before reading it? These one-year awesome deals rarely end well. ^^;;

From: [identity profile] lady-ganesh.livejournal.com


That's exactly what I was thinking of, yes. Renault used it in The King Must Die.

From: [identity profile] melebeth.livejournal.com


It sounds like one of those books where there's an equal chance of my loving it and wanting to throw it across the room, but I definitely now want to read it.

From: [identity profile] sovay.livejournal.com


June is a teenage graffiti artist whose best friend, Gil, falls for Enki, the glamorous, newly elected Summer King.

Is there actual Epic of Gilgamesh mixed in with the post-apocalyptic year-king-ness, or just the names?

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com


I shamefully confess that I have never actually read Gilgamesh. But from what I have gained via osmosis, it's just the names.

From: [identity profile] jinian.livejournal.com


I kept looking for it, but could only detect the names.

From: [identity profile] asakiyume.livejournal.com


Man, that does sound truly excellent and fun--guerilla graffiti artist? I want to *be* one! ... I now have that horrible thing, which I hate and usually can avoid suffering from--writer jealousy. *Sigh* Must reprogram this emotion--take out the jealousy, leave the admiration and enthusiasm.

From: [identity profile] marzipan-pig.livejournal.com


I ended up liking this WAY more than I'd expected to.

It made me cry but everything kind of does lately esp blah blah death love blah blah.

It was really good though.
.

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