by Alex London
Knox was born into one of the City’s wealthiest families. A Patron, he has everything a boy could possibly want—the latest tech, the coolest clothes, and a Proxy to take all his punishments. When Knox breaks a vase, Syd is beaten. When Knox plays a practical joke, Syd is forced to haul rocks. And when Knox crashes a car, killing one of his friends, Syd is branded and sentenced to death.
Syd is a Proxy. His life is not his own.
Then again, neither is Knox’s. Knox and Syd have more in common than either would guess. So when Knox and Syd realize that the only way to beat the system is to save each other, they flee. Yet Knox’s father is no ordinary Patron, and Syd is no ordinary Proxy. The ensuing cross-country chase will uncover a secret society of rebels, test both boys’ resolve, and shine a blinding light onto a world of those who owe and those who pay. Some debts, it turns out, cannot be repaid.
I received an ARC of this title in exchange for my honest review
Alex London's Proxy has one of those premises that could either go really, really bad or go really, really awesome...thankfully, this book is all awesome! Any expectations I had were surpassed and I walked away from this book greatly impressed and thoroughly entertained.
Set in a bleak future, Proxy is a modern day The Whipping Boy. In this world you're either a have or a have not, there's no middle ground and the difference between the two is huge. The super rich Patrons live in a world of lux, every desire granted, every need met. Patron children often have a Proxy, a poor counterpart who takes the punishments when the Patron misbehaves. Knox is a Patron and Syd is his Proxy. Since the age of four, Syd has taken the punishments for every crime, wrongdoing, and naughty thing Knox has done, and he's done a lot. But when Knox is responsible for the death of a friend and Syd is sent to prison, their two very different worlds collide. The two must work together to save themselves and maybe the country.
Proxy is an edge of your seat thrill ride with explosive twists, complex characters, and excellent storytelling. Excitingly fast-paced, with deftly crafted chapter cliffhangers, this book keep me turning pages until I finished in the wee hours of the morning. Proxy is a multi-layered, multifaceted story brimming with action, romance, sci-fi elements, and breathtaking insightfulness
The dystopian like setting in Proxy seems, at first, like many other dystopian settings in YA books, but London has infused his world with such refreshing innovation, awesome gizmos and gadgets, and shocking hierarchy and social practices, that it quickly feels new in completely enthralling in unexpected ways. The immediate complex and layered world we find Syd and Knox in is, for the most part, greatly developed and laid out. The separate sections of the rich and the poor are each thoroughly explored and we are given a comprehensive and complete look at this world as a whole. My one big issue with the world-building is a lack of detailed backstory or history. There are definitely tidbits sprinkled throughout that explain how and why the country has become how it is, but I wanted something more specific to give me a wider understanding of the logical reasonings behind this world. Does this lack of sufficient history distract from the story being told? Absolutely not! And I really think this is more of a personal preference kind of issue.
The idea of Patrons and Proxys is such a wildly thought-provoking one and London really runs with this idea and takes it to some compelling places. There's a lot of poignant social commentary organically woven with the action, romance, and sci-fi elements. This is a story that will encourage discussion and serious thought on a wide array of topics.
London has created a wonderful cast of intriguing characters. Syd has such complexity and depth, and he's easy to relate to and like. Syd is gay and London has incorporated this part of Syd into the story in ways that feel natural and authentic and important, but not as if his sexuality is used for shock value or as an easy storyline tool. You really don't see gay main characters in YA books that aren't strictly contemporary, which is a shame, so I love that London offers such a relatable, well-developed gay character to readers. Now, Knox is a whole different story! Not gonna lie, I pretty much loathed this dude in the beginning of the book. He's arrogant, selfish, thoughtless, spoiled, pretty much a douche...BUT, he's supposed to be. I don't think we're supposed to like him at first. And I appreciated how consistent his character development is; yes, he grows and matures, but in ways that feel believable. Bravo Mr. London for creating a character that I hated (and wanted to kick in the balls) then tolerated then warmed up to then genuinely liked then had mad respect for *slow clap*
The ending? THAT ending! Y'all I have a love/hate relationship with the ending of Proxy. It's unexpected and explosive and heart-wrenching and powerful and made feel ALL the feels, but I just don't know whether I love it or hate it. Either way, it's a helluva way to end the book.
Alex London writes books for adults, children and teens. At one time a journalist who traveled the world reporting from conflict zones and refugee camps, he now is a full time novelist living in Brooklyn.