The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson – Review | Queer YA Scrabble

Queer YA Scrabble


For my final post for Queer YA Scrabble, I am thrilled to be talking about Alaya Dawn Johnson’s AMAZING gay YA fantasy The Summer Prince! Do check back on my intro post to see all the books I’ve talked about this weekend and solve the anagram hidden in my posts to win a box of books!



A heart-stopping story of love, death, technology, and art set amid the tropics of a futuristic Brazil.

The lush city of Palmares Tres 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 Tres 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.

Pulsing with the beat of futuristic Brazil, burning with the passions of its characters, and overflowing with ideas, this fiery novel will leave you eager for more from Alaya Dawn Johnson.


The Summer Prince is one of the most unique fantasy novels I’ve read. It is completely different in terms of story, setting and characters and is quite honestly mesmerising from start to finish.

At the start of the story you don’t get the usual info dump explaining the world. Most details are explained throughout the book and I thought it was really refreshing to read a story about characters in a world that is so different from ours and is progressively being sketched out more and more thoroughly.

The book is set in a futuristic Brazil in a world where nuclear bombs have destroyed most of the Occidental countries. I found it fascinating that in this world the situation was reversed and people from North America were emigrating towards South America. Palmares Tres is a vertical city and there is a hierarchy created between those at the top and those at the bottom. Women are ruling the city and they are controlling how much technology is used by the people. This is fantasy done right as it doesn’t try to look like today’s society to make it understandable but rather looks at how things could be. One of my favourite parts of the book was the diversity when it came to gender, sexuality, race, language etc. and how it made the story all the more unique.

A large part of the book is centred on the main character June and her art which was so fascinating to read. There are discussions about what art means and what it should strive to be and how it can stimulate people and be a catalyst for change. The political background to the art June creates is very stimulating and I loved reading that she felt she had the power to change things and to inspire people to yearn for more in their lives than just following orders.

This book was a real surprise for me and I’m so glad I read it as it was thoroughly unique and very thought-provoking. I can’t wait to read more books by Alaya Dawn Johnson!


This book is truly like no other and I can’t urge you enough to read it! Add it to your shelves on Goodreads or buy it from Amazon UK or Gay’s The Word!

Alaya Dawn Johnson (rhymes with “papaya”) lives, writes, cooks and (perhaps most importantly) eats in Mexico City. Her literary loves are all forms of speculative fiction, historical fiction, and the occasional highbrow novel. She plays the guitar badly and eats very well, particularly during canning season. She has published six novels for adults and young adults, including The Summer Prince, which was longlisted for the National Book Award in 2013, and Love Is the Drug, nominated for the Norton award.

Follow Alaya Dawn Johnson on her website and on Twitter!


Don’t forget to browse through the articles I’ve posted this weekend (all links in my intro post here) for the hidden letters to solve the anagram and to be in with a chance of winning the Team Griffin box (click here to enter!). All the letters have been posted and the anagram to solve is LGBTQIA-related! Good luck!!

Hope you’ve all had a good weekend and have discovered some fab new books!

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