Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Proxy (Proxy #1) 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.


Released: June 18th 2013     Pages: 384
Publisher: Philomel             Source: Library

First Look: *****  I keep trying to take a break from dystopian, but then books like this with cool premises I can't ignore come around, and I can't resist.  The idea of this book grabbed me instantly, and I really wanted to see how it would be executed.

Setting: ****
It's so hard to differentiate all these near-future settings.  They're all dystopic on one level or other, and they're all high-tech.  In each one (each of the good ones, anyway), the real originality is in how the society thinks and how the culture has changed.  Proxy's setting had some interesting aspects, including the use of a "whipping boy" to pay off debts.  While it's not something I'd suggest for our future society, the book presented it as a possible what-if alternative, and I think the setting overall worked well for the story.

Characters: ***** Knox and Syd made an interesting duo.  At first they hate each other, but they slowly and grudgingly earn each other's trust and maybe even friendship.  Even at the end, there's so much clash between them.  Knox comes from a wealthy family, Syd from a poor, and their ideas about the world are often at odds with each other. 

Of the two, Syd was my favorite.  He was easiest for me to root for, probably because he'd grown up in an environment where he had to learn how to take care of himself, which made him more responsible than Knox.  He had a sweet side and was genuinely nice to people and loyal to his friends.

I grew to like Knox, but it took longer.  Knox spends much of the earlier chapters being an arrogant, irresponsible jerk.  Slowly, though, he takes responsibility for his actions, which made me respect him more.

 Plot: ***** I was never quite sure if this would turn out to be a "let's go join a rebellion" type of dystopian novel or not.  Proxy wasn't one of those novels, though throughout there are hints of a brewing revolution.  I suspect the next book will have much more to do with the Rebooters, the revolutionary group.

The plot was action-packed, and well-paced.  I did have a problem, though, with how quickly Syd forgave Knox.  Syd has spent his whole life paying for Knox's mistakes, and I feel like Syd got over that fact way too quickly.  Otherwise, though, the plot was enjoyable. 

Uniqueness: ****
Unique dystopians are hard to find, and though it isn't radically different from anything I've read before, it did bring a new element to the genre.

Writing: ***** 
The writing tripped me up in a few places.  At first, when Syd and Knox were apart, each chapter was in each respective boy's point of view.  I assumed the entire novel would consist of separate third-person point of views.  When Syd and Knox were together, though, it turned into more of an omniscient point of view, showing both Syd and Knox's thoughts.  I'm not a fan of omniscient point of views, and this one disoriented me more than once.

Also, in every case except one, "Chapter 11" (this book's term for gay) was written with numbers.  One time, though, it was written like "Chapter Eleven".  I couldn't see a reason for this, so I think it's a typo.

Likes: The cover is shiny!

Not-so-great: Nothing not already mentioned above.

Overall: Proxy is an exciting, fast-paced novel in an interesting near-future world.  The main characters, Knox and Syd, were likable, and the relationship between them evolved from enemies to allies, and then friends by the end, and the progression was written in a realistic way.  The omniscient point of view threw me off a little, though, in the later chapters where both boys are together.  Still, I enjoyed this book, and I'll be reading the sequel.
 


 
Similar Books: It asks questions about the value of human life like Unwind or The House of the ScorpionIt has a near-future, high-tech setting like Ready Player One, Legend, or even The Maze Runner.

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