08 January 2014

YA Book Review: Proxy by Alex London

Release Date: 18 June 2013
Publisher: Philomel
Format: Hardcover
Source: Own

Goodreads description:
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.

My Thoughts...

I picked this book for my book club to read for our upcoming January meeting and I'll admit up front that I picked it for two main reasons: a non-white, gay main character.  Sure, we haven't read a lot of science fiction so there was that too, but sometimes regardless of whether I think people will like this book or not, I like to find ways to incorporate more diversity where I can find it.  This one fit that bill perfectly so we dove in.

From the beginning, Syd and Knox couldn't be more different.  Syd has a hard life, made even more difficult by the debt's that he is repaying basically to society by being Knox's proxy--the one who takes the punishment's when Knox, typical party-boy rich kid, screws up.  He's managed to make it through everything thrown his way so far and he can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel--the moment when he will be free from the debt that he owes basically for simply existing and being poor.  He's resourceful on top of it all and he generally has it together.

Knox, on the other hand, has had pretty much everything handed to him.  Syd takes his punishments for him and while Knox is forced to observe, he has become rather detached from the process.  He believes that Syd is obviously paying a debt and that's how society should/must work. Knox is the kind of character that annoys the heck out of you as a reader but there's something about him that makes you want to like him and want him to change his ways.

The story is definitely fast-paced and full of action and explosions. One of my favorite things about this book, however, is the fact that while the narrator is gay and that fact is talked about on various occasions, it isn't the focus of the novel.  There isn't even a romantic interest, which in my mind makes this a great read to suggest to any and all teen guys.  The diversity exists in our world and it is books like this that, for me, offer chances to become more accepting through exposure.  That's just my take. :)

Proxy may not have been my favorite science fiction/ dystopian read ever but I think that can be partially contributed to the fact that there were so many questions left truly unanswered at the end of the novel--so many things that I still wanted to know--and the way that it wrapped up so neatly.  Perhaps the sequel will offer some much needed answers? I suppose I will find out in June.  I would recommend this book to fans of Malinda Lo's Adaptation and readers of fast-paced science fiction.

There is a really great interview with the author on School Library Journal.  Check it out here!

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