Friday, June 14, 2013

The Summer Prince - Alaya Dawn Johnson

The Summer PrinceI started this book thinking I would love it.  Then partway through I thought that I would like it, because it's very different, but I would be left confused.  And then it broke my heart.

The Summer Prince is the story of Enki and June, Enki and Gil, Enki and the City, and Enki and death.  Enki is the sun in this story, even though he's supposed to be a moon prince; everything revolves around him, completely and irrevocably.  For a long time, I didn't think that there was going to be any romance between Enki and June, that she was going to be sidelined by Enki and Gil, and I would have been okay with that, because it was different, and they were cute, and June was "aware this attachment I feel is the product of emotional investment in the largely stage-managed and manufactured spectacle of the royal election."  I admired her for that, for recognizing that in herself.  But that love transforms over the course of the story, and while, to some degree, I never really believed June and Enki would have a romance, it was so beautiful that I couldn't NOT want it.

I wouldn't say this book is about a revolution.  I would say that it's about art, and love, and inevitability, and the mistakes of history.  It was beautiful in all those ways.

Of course, it DID have flaws.  There are two instances of suicide in this book, and while one is barely mentioned, the other is glorified to what seems like an unhealthy degree.  There is also some lack of description that I find unsettling; I can't really get a clear picture of Palmares Tres in my head because there isn't really any solid description of it.  The whole sacrificial ritual also left me with some confusion; I feel like I absorbed a lot of knowledge about it that wasn't explicitly stated, but I'm still not sure if it's an annual thing or something that only happens every few years, and exactly how it evolved into what it is during the time of the book.  Still, the absolutely heartbreaking beauty of this more than outweighs it, and even parts I thought would be completely unnecessary, such as most of the last part of the book, turned out to fit into it so perfectly that I wouldn't wish them away for ANYTHING.

And the conclusion!  I sobbed like a baby in the middle of my workplace, but it was worth it.  Completely worth it.

5 stars out of 5.

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