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Proxy Paperback – May 1, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up–Knox is a “patron,” a privileged and wealthy citizen of Mountain City. His only concerns are hacking, scoring with girls, and causing trouble while angering his bigwig dad. His proxy, a person who is contractually obligated to serve out Knox's punishments, is a gay teen. In exchange for working as a proxy, Syd is able to pay off his debts. When Knox accidentally kills a girl, 16 years at the Old Sterling Work Colony is too great a punishment for Syd to bear, so he escapes. An action-packed thrill ride ensues where Syd meets up with Knox, who helps him flee. As the pair dive further into their escape plan, new truths are revealed and a growing birthmark that preoccupies Syd turns out to be a secret message uploaded into his DNA by his father. Proxy is full of plot twists, and London creates a well-developed dystopian world. Initially, readers will have to overlook coincidental circumstances, such as the fact that Syd and Knox meet when their society forbids it and that they both play important roles in their world. However, the story's rhythm and complexities rush readers through these liberties, and London's novel will grab readers. Recommend it to students who are interested in tech-laden, dystopian science fiction.–Adrienne L. Strock, Chicago Public Libraryα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Rave Reviews for Proxy
“I fell in love with this story from the first sentence to the final, epic page. London is a force to be reckoned with.” —Marie Lu, author of the Legend trilogy
“A fast-paced dystopian novel which should appeal to readers of the Hunger Games.” —VOYA
“Not only is Proxy an edge-of-your-seat literary thrill ride, it’s an important and groundbreaking novel as well…London has crafted a true tour de force.” —Matt de la Peña, author of Mexican White Boy
“A big twist and heroic ending will leave readers eager for more” —Shelf Awareness
“Offering intriguing moral dilemmas amid breakneck action…The matter-of-fact presence of a gay lead [Syd] in an action driven story is welcome and overdue.” —Publishers Weekly
“An action-packed thrill ride.” —SLJ
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Top customer reviews
That happened to me with Proxy.
And you know what....It was an excellent decision. Sometime you just have to trust your book buying gut!! Proxy is a fantastic story and an exciting read. It broke my heart in all the right ways and made me think. I love when that happens!!
I must confess I also love it when an author takes a classic story or theme and reimagines it. Proxy it turns out is a dark and dynamic take on The Whipping Boy (which was already pretty dark). It has been a very long time since I read that book but I remember it stuck with me enough that it has a place on my bookshelf to this day
Anyway, Proxy is set in a futuristic, high-tech, post-apocalyptic, dystopian America (my favorite). Where the rich are insanely outrageously in control of the lives and assets of the entire society and the poor are so deeply in debt (often from the moment they are born) that many are forced to pay their "debt" as Proxies (or whipping boys) to the wealthy. While the idea of legalized torture as a means to teach lessons to snotty rich kids may seem absurd the vast disparity of wealth distribution and the overwhelming debt situation facing the average young american is not...
Maybe I sound a little pessimistic and paranoid and my liberal is showing for sure....But is it really that hard to imagine a time in the not so distant future where we would sell ourselves to companies in exchange for the latest technology or more importantly life saving medications and treatment? Perhaps that's why I love these dystopian books so much. I love the what if's and even more than that I love the stories of the people who fight the system and save the world. I like the darkness but I love the hope (maybe I'm not such a pessimist after all).
As much as I gravitate to these stories for the subject matter at the end of the day I don't love a book unless I connect with the characters. The three main characters in Proxy are amazing. I love them. (*****WARNING***** From here on out things are a little spoilery, not much but a little soo...reader beware).
Knox was that guy you love to hate until you suddenly realize you actually love him. Exactly one second into this book I was thinking "Ugh, ew! I certainly hope this isn't the main character." (this may have had something to do with the seemingly vapid girl he was in the car with and the annoying text conversation they were having). But he was a main character and his story was arguably the most important.
Knox is the poor little rich boy you have zero sympathy for until you start to understand the deep dark emptiness this character carries around in his soul. Still, his internal suffering wouldn't be enough to conquer his horrifying apathy if he didn't have a pretty extraordinary character arch. Which he does. Whew!
Sydney (Syd) on the other hand is instantly likeable; strong and sympathetic he has the terrible misfortune of being Knox's Proxy (Knox was basically a demon child and Syd has paid in blood sweat and tears for it...literally). Syd is also chapter 11 (gay) and that brings a really interesting dynamic to the story. I appreciate how the author treated Syd's sexual orientation like it was just part of life, just who Syd is...it wasn't a huge deal and the story did not revolve around it. That's not to say the author doesn't tackle some of the tough stuff... he just did it in a natural and understated way.
I felt for Syd, a lot. It was pretty darn impossible not to. His life story was tragic and it pulled at my heart strings in almost every chapter. Syd however. was made of stronger stuff than someone like me. He didn't much see the point in self pity and so you the reader don't either... And it makes you love him all the more.
One of the very best parts of this book was watching the brotherhood that forms between Knox and Syd develop. In my last review I confessed that sibling relationships are often the lifeblood of a good book for me and this one was no different. While Knox and Syd are not technically brothers eventually they begin to see each other that way and when they do the truth of it is undeniable. The protectiveness that Knox (and Marie) feel for Syd by the end of this story is right on par with that of any blood sibling.
Which brings me to Marie. Marie was fascinating because she was smart and sassy with a good head on her shoulders.... but she was a crusader and the author had interesting points to make about her stance. Marie's character certainly spoke to those of us (coughMEcough) who have a tendency to hop right up on our soapboxes and spout wisdoms about issues we may not truly understand. (I maaaayyyy have done that in this very review) I think I have a lot to learn from Marie....
And then there was the ending.....Holy hell. I finished the book and just stared...stared at the last page for a good five minutes. I was all "NOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooo!" But on the other hand, the tiny sad voice in my heart who loves symmetry and appreciates the beauty of self sacrifice when it is truly necessary thought.... "yes. that was how it needed to be...there was no other way." The love and growth that sacrifice demonstrated was just gorgeously moving...and of course heartbreaking.
First off, I loved that it features a gay male protagonist (and one who's dark skinned at that). It's as if the character was written for me. The fact that he was full, three-dimensional character was also appreciated. In fact all of the characters felt very real. They were never simply evil or good (although the characters you were supposed to root for and those you were supposed to hate were, for the most part, apparent) but had there own motives for everything they did , whether those motives were obvious from the get-go or took time to develop.
But more I loved the themes present. Like any dystopian fiction it comments on the failings of our society, touching on disparity between the rich and the poor, subtle racial prejudice, homophobia, the role of faith and religion in society,etc, all without getting too preachy. It did still manage to make the reader think about what they would do, what decisions they would make, and made them question the integrity of there own beliefs and predispositions.
The plot was an engaging. I'm not certain there will be a sequel; the ending could very well stand alone. That said, however, there will mostly likely be at least a second book ( maybe even a third) and I can't wait to read it.
Just a couple negatives. The story, while fun, felt rushed. I was able to empathize with the characters, but just barely. I felt things would have been better if the story was longer and gave the reader time to really fall in love with the various personalities and their relationships with each other rather than force-feeding emotional connection but telling the reader outright who they should connect with.
Also, at times the story was a little demanding on my ability to suspend disbelief. I get that this is sci-fi, but I sometimes felt that things happened, conflicts were resolved, just a little too easily.
But, overall, I liked this book and would definitely suggest it to lovers of dystopian science fiction or anyone who just loves a good story.
i usually don't read a lot of sci-fi themed book, mainly because i feel like this "new world" is always build up rather clumsily, but with this book however, it was like it just came so smoothly through the thoughts and conversations the characters had, like they wre aware of the world around them enough to want to change it, but not enough to spend page after page describing it for the reader to understand it, no you just gradually became a part of the lifes they lived.
another thing i was very pleasantly surprised by, was how well Sydneys sexuality played into the plot, like sure it was a part of him it would always be a part of him, but it wasn't actually something that changed the story, it was just there. I liked that.
At one point i was kinda scared that the plot would just kinda mush into some romantic blabber, but luckily that didn't happen! sure there was like mentions of it, but it was never forced and it was never actually a thing that mattered, it was just slightly there, no more that 5 percent of the book, like it would be kind of out of characters for these 3 teenagers to NEVER think about it
All in all i was pleasantly surprised, of course i did figure out the ending not very far into the book but that has never ruined a book for me and it certaintly didn't affect my liking of this one either