The Summer Prince by Alana Dawn Johnson is a great YA novel. It’s an interesting coming of age tale, told from a first person girl artist’s perspective. Despite the distance from me in age, outlook, and world view, the author does a great job of building my empathy with June.
It’s an interesting arcology style setting, in a post-apocalypse Brazil. The culture of the arcology is interesting, as is the caste system made express in the levels of the arcology. As the story continues, the world building elements come clear, explaining the Aunties system of governance, the changes in climate and relative prosperity in the world. The girly-crush elements were well written (though thoroughly alien to me) and the passion for art was well handled and identifiable. (I certainly remember deciding that some things about myself were true, then feeling bound to my self conception, and found kinship to June when her own self conception traps her.) Similarly, the exoticism of race had me nodding along, and the backroom maneuverings filtered through our inexperienced heroine’s eyes felt plausible and well handled.
The book’s final quarter shakes things up impressively, we learn a lot about June and her Summer King. The very ending was a sharp break from our June’s point of view, even though we could see (in retrospect) Enki’s evaluation and setting up the final scene. I was left satisfied with a solid tale and felt it was complete. I don’t really want the story to continue into a sequel.
One of the very well handled elements was the lifelong friendship of June and Gil. I like that the friendship weathered the changes, included elements where their minds wouldn’t meet and they had to give each other space, and Gil’s steadfastness. (Gil’s mom rocked too, even trapped in the background.)
Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell. Set in a low fantasy world, our heroic trio (of Brasti, Kest, and Falcio) feel very derring do; they’re not three musketeers, but they’re not far from it. I read this in one tremendous gulp (due mostly to weekend circumstances); it fared well, holding my interest steady for hours.
There’s a lot of politics and scheming, handled very well–it both felt authentic, and the complexities were introduced at a steady pace. The novel sticks to Falcio’s point of view and handles it very well. The story blossoms when he’s away from his companions, but the reunion feels earned and marks a difference.
Falcio goes through the wringer, repeatedly. That, like some Dresden books, feels a bit overdone–but he earns the ending by the book’s close. We’ve got several interesting elements to investigate hanging at the end–Tailor, “the friend in the dark hour” what’s her deal?, and the whole fated plan for restoration. Their rivals are well positioned too. I am very much looking forward to the sequel–evidently it’s in copy editing as we speak.