The Summer Prince
by Alaya Dawn Johnson
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.
I adore the cover. I have no idea why this book is called The Summer Prince and not The Summer King. Anyway, I loved the artist characters, the awesome worldbuilding (Futuristic Brazil! With hints of ancient Maya!) and the way art intersected with politics. It slumped a bit in the middle when it ditched art for pure politics, but then the quality picked up again in the last third.
Pro tip: do not take this book to read when you go out to dinner, or you will end up blubbering into your pizza when you reach the ending.
How to Lead a Life of Crime
by Kirsten Miller
A Meth Dealer. A Prostitute. A Serial Killer.
Anywhere else, they’d be vermin. At the Mandel Academy, they’re called prodigies. The most exclusive school in New York City has been training young criminals for over a century. Only the most ruthless students are allowed to graduate. The rest disappear.
Flick, a teenage pickpocket, has risen to the top of his class. But then Mandel recruits a fierce new competitor who also happens to be Flick’s old flame. They’ve been told only one of them will make it out of the Mandel Academy. Will they find a way to save each other—or will the school destroy them both?
Interesting and unusual. The first half of the book is a fun read… and then Joi shows up, and well… that half of the book is why this it made its list. Can't say much more about the book without giving anything away.
The Raven Boys
by Maggie Stiefvater
From the front cover flap:
"There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark's Eve," Neeve said. "Either you're his true love . . . or you killed him."Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them -- until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.\
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can't entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little.
His name is Gansey, and he's a rich student at Aglionby the local private School. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn't believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she's not so sure anymore.
I liked this author's other recent book, The Scorpio Races. It was beautiful and atmospheric. And yet I didn't love it. I loved everything about this one and was almost immediately entranced. I also appreciate that Maggie Stiefvater’s books feel deeper and more substantial than a lot of other YA stuff I read. Not that there’s anything wrong with fun, fluffy books, but rather with those that aspire to complex subjects but only brush the surface.
Less than a month until the sequel comes out. But it's a four book series. Clearly, I have years of suffering to come. But it'll be so, so worth it.
What have your great summer reads been?