The Summer Prince

The Summer Prince -

The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson tells the story of a futuristic Brazil ruled by a matriarchy where a Summer King is ritualistically killed most years to choose the next queen. June hasn’t paid much attention to the Summer Kings until this year when her and her best friend fall in love with Enki, the Summer King from the lowest level of society. The Summer Prince had so much potential, but I had a hard time following the plot due to so many foreign words and the slow nature of the story-telling. I requested The Summer Prince through Netgalley because really, who could resist that cover??

Note: A copy was provided via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Scholastic for providing me a copy.

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Title: The Summer Prince
Author: Alaya Dawn Johnson
Length: 304 pages
Genre-ish: Artistic dystopia
Rating★★★awesome ending, confusing start

The lush city of Palmares Três shimmers with tech and tradition, with screaming gossip casters and practiced politicians. In the midst of this vibrant metropolis, June Costa creates art that’s sure to make her legendary. But her dreams of fame become something more when she meets Enki, the bold new Summer King. The whole city falls in love with him (including June’s best friend, Gil). But June sees more to Enki than amber eyes and a lethal samba. She sees a fellow artist.

Together, June and Enki will stage explosive, dramatic projects that Palmares Três will never forget. They will add fuel to a growing rebellion against the government’s strict limits on new tech. And June will fall deeply, unfortunately in love with Enki. Because like all Summer Kings before him, Enki is destined to die. – Goodreads


  • To start, I love this cover and I especially love that the shiny, pretty tattoos are actually fairly accurate to the story. Often covers don’t actually reflect any real scene, but June really does get light implants that look like a tree, which I appreciated.
  • You read that description right: Gil is June’s male best friend and he is in love with Enki the male Summer King. Yey for homosexuality being accepted and normal in this story!
  • The ending is action-packed and so satisfyingly emotional. I just wish the rest of The Summer Prince had been so engaging.
  • There are a lot of awesome plot twists towards the end. I definitely had not expected the story to go the way it did and it was pretty great ;-).


  • There were so many words that I didn’t know which were either Portugese or supposed to resemble Portugese. I realize that this was probably suppose to set the tone, but if the context doesn’t make it obvious what a word means, it makes it pretty difficult to get that mental movie going. 
  • The plot of The Summer Prince felt very slow and undirected for most of the book. I really had no idea what the goals of the characters were and there was very little sense of overall tension to drive them. There were art projects and love stories, but that wasn’t enough to pull me in until the end.


While The Summer Prince is technically a dystopia, it reads much more like a contemporary set in a futuristic society. The love story and artistic endeavors were the main focus, and therefore there was very little action until the very end. If you have some familiarity with Portugese, then perhaps you will be able to understand what is going on in the first half better than I could, but I found it very problematic while reading. The Summer Prince is definitely not a typical dystopia, packed with action, however it is a touching love story if you stick it out to the end.