Friday, August 16, 2013

Review: Proxy by Alex London


Author: Alex London
Series: Proxy #1
Publisher: Philomel
Genre: YA Dystopia
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Release Date: June 18, 2013
Source: Mid-Columbia Libraries
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Synopsis from Goodreads:

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 Review:

We start out with a typical dystopia novel. The world has been destroyed, ravaged by radiation and natural disasters. The last safe place is in Mountain City. The people that run the city will take you in, for a price. These lucky refugees get a new identity, access to schools, medical care, housing, anything they want, but it all gets stacked onto their ledger. Only they don’t pay off the debt with currency. They pay it off with years of service. The refugees are called Proxies and they serve the rich people called Patrons. If a Patron breaks a law or does something bad, their Proxy gets punished. Talk about an unfair world, especially when the majority of the time, the refugees didn’t ask to be rescued. They were just taken into this city without their consent, many as children.

The synopsis sounds awesome, right? What a unique dystopia when so many seem to blend together. It does not disappoint. This book was awesome. The plot takes off at a scorching pace. You will not be able to stop turning the pages to find out what happens next. A lot of times when a plot moves this quickly I feel as though there is a lack of world-building, but this was not the case with Proxy. I still felt like I had a concrete knowledge of what was going on in this futuristic world and what had happened to bring it all about. London weaves subtle details into the story that don’t clog up the novel, but provide just enough background to satisfy his readers.

The characters are amazing. Knox is the Patron in the story. He is a spoiled rich kid who gets away with murder. Literally. Knox is constantly getting into trouble: vandalizing, stealing, you name it, he’s probably done it. Although it may seem he has the perfect life, there is a somewhat dark background story. His mother died when he was very young and his father doesn’t act like much of a father. He works a lot and is almost never home. And we wonder why Knox is so out of control? Something I found very interesting is that the Patrons are forced to watch their Proxies take their punishments. Knox has watched his Proxy get punished many times since they were both little boys. At first it upset him, but he has become somewhat immune to it now. Knox didn’t really change throughout the book. He continued to think only of himself and do things only for his own selfish motivations. As much as I wanted to dislike him though, I didn’t. He was funny and sarcastic: two things I love in a character. I wanted Knox to grow and several times throughout the novel I thought he had. But then he would say things like this:

 “He wanted to tell her yes, now he believed. He wanted to tell her he believed what she believed because maybe then she’d hold his hand, maybe then she’d smile back and remind him who he used to be. But he didn’t believe and he didn’t say yes. He just couldn’t fake it. Instead, he shrugged. ‘I guess it doesn’t matter either way.’”

But still, a part of me felt like Knox was just too hard on himself. That maybe he was denying his true feelings. But that’s just my opinion.

Knox’s Proxy, Syd is amazing. I loved him so much. (Sidenote: All of the refugees brought in are given a new name that the system pulls from old books. Syd’s full name is Sydney Carton from A Tale of Two Cities. There are other characters like Atticus Finch and Tom Sawyer. I thought this was such a cool way to make reference to some beloved classics.) Syd is an orphan and refugee and he got unluckily paired with Knox. Many refugees continue to spend credit on things like medical upgrades (new contacts, hair color, skin color, etc.), but Syd refuses. He is very careful about not accruing any more debt. He wants to complete the years of service he owes and then free himself.

Syd brings diversity to this book which I loved. He is described as having dark skin and he is also gay. I don’t feel like there is enough diversity in books these days, so was excited to see it here. Syd is a really strong character; he has to be after taking Knox’s punishments since he was four years old. He takes the punishments willingly until his Patron accidentally kills someone and Syd is going to be sent to jail, which is basically a death sentence for him. He decides to take matters into his own hands and runs.

In a strange turn of events, he ends up meeting Knox and they run together to try and beat the system. Something I liked about Syd was his unwillingness to trust anyone. It made him believable. Someone in his situation shouldn’t trust anyone and he didn’t. As much as I loved Syd, he did have flaws. He was cynical, which was understandable, but Syd only cares about one thing: keeping himself alive. Even when he is presented with opportunities to save others, he chooses himself and continues to run. In this respect, I felt like he and Knox were very similar. That being said, he does develop and change a lot throughout the book, making me fall in love with him even more.

Let’s talk about my favorite thing. Plot twists. Holy crap. There was literally a plot twist in like every other chapter. Things I never saw coming. I was constantly going “what????” or “no!!!” In addition to the plot twists, this book had so many feels. It ripped my heart out. After I finished I closed the book and cried. It was such a heart-breaking story about a boy who was sentenced to an unfair life and another who is struggling to understand just how unfair that life is. This book is about friendship and loyalty. It’s about self-preservation and sacrifice. This book blew my mind. If you like dystopias this is a must-read. I highly recommend it. You will not regret picking up this book. It will grab onto you from the first page until the last. Happy reading all!


  1. I've been on the fence about this book for some reason, but I think I'm going to have to read it now. Great review! ~Pam

    1. You should! I really liked it! One thing I didn't mention in the review though, mostly bc it ended up not being a really big deal is that the POV is kind of confusing at first. We start with alternating POV between Syd and Knox, but when they meet it switches to 3rd person omniscient. It wasn't that a big deal, but when it first switched I was a little confused. But compared with how good the book was, I quickly forgot about it!

  2. Loved this book, exactly what I was looking for in a long time!


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