Oh, this was a fun read. I love the worldbuilding: the city of Palames Tres, set in the post-apocalpytic Brazil, a city of tiers, ruled by women and defined by the young (wakas) and the old (grandes). And I loved the relationships.
This is not the normal boy/girl YA romance. Artistic June is best friends with Gil, with their share of flirtations towards each other. When Enki, doomed boy chosen to be the Summer Prince comes into their lives, it is Gil, not June, who falls under his spell and has a passionate love affair with him. June struggles with being left out and with her own feelings, for Enki is also a fellow artist. Instead of turning into a love triangle, which most books might do, it becomes a threesome. A tasteful, loving threesome in which all three care deeply for each other.
If Enki was evil or selfish, this would be potential for disaster. However, there is a reason why June and Gil are drawn to him. He is in love with everyone–though he made himself that way (in the future, there’s an app for that). He loves June, he loves Gil, he loves the lowly slums of Tier 8, which he represents and he loves the city of Palames Tres, enough to die for it, which is the fate of every Summer King.
With all the talk of sacrifice, I found myself viewing Enki as a Christ figure. He touches everyone, from the mod bootleggers on Tier 8 to the matriarchal rulers, the Aunties. He knows full well he is doomed. He is also not without his faults. But he works so that his willing sacrifice brings about true change.
I loved the complications in the story. The matriarchal society, created after a long-ago virus killed many men, is just as corrupt and political. Amid growing complaints that the Aunties are hindering technology, other cities like New Tokyo have such advanced technology, they’ve lost their humanity. June’s own conflict with her mother takes a back seat as she works with Enki to gain the coveted Queen’s Award. And slowly, June learns that her own world is not as perfect as she thought it was, and that her own ideas can’t be neatly wrapped up in a bow.
There was so much touched in this book. Privilege. Power. Politics. Technology. Relationships. Art. Leadership and Sacrifice. And all against the backdrop of a Brazilian samba atmosphere that makes me wish someone opted this for a movie. I really, really loved this book. 5 sambas out of 5, and now I must create a playlist of samba and bossa nova to read this book to.