Dystopian, Fiction, Young Adult

Review: Proxy by Alex London

Update 4/5/17: I am ashamed about my comments on Syd’s homosexuality, but I did say I’m not going to edit my previous reviews just because my views have (dramatically) changed.

Proxy book cover
Image from Alex London

Title: Proxy

Author: Alex London

Genre: Dystopian

Knox was born into one of the City’s wealthiest families. As a patron, he has everything a boy could possibly want – the latest tech, the coolest clothes, and a Proxy to take 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. Both boys realize the only way to beat the system is to save each other, so they flee. But 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 picked up Proxy on a premise similar to Sid Fleischman’s The Whipping Boy – poor kids get punished for rich kids’ misdeeds. It was one of those where it sounded good, but I didn’t pick it up until the library got it in.

Before I go much farther, I want to point this out: I am aware that you may disagree very strongly with me here. But the promise of my reviews has always been my opinion, straight-up, no sugar-coating or dancing around issues. I call them like I see them, and if you disagree, you are entitled to your opinion. Please remember that I’m also entitled to mine.

Syd was my biggest problem with the book. He’s a kick-butt, hardened tech geek with a cynical outlook on everything. I didn’t mind him. But my problem was that he was gay.

There was no romance (besides some light flirting), and nothing explicit, but every time his homosexuality came up, I felt uncomfortable about it. I felt like that (totally unnecessary, in my opinion) plot element made what could have been a good book into a “well, it was good, but…” book.

Knox was a jerk, in the simplest sense of the word. It’s like he was incapable of thinking of anyone but himself. He got a little better as the story went on, but I was not his biggest fan.

The idea was good. Knox kills somebody, Syd is sentenced to death, Syd decides he doesn’t want to die, they discover Syd has something Knox’s father wants, they go on the run. But it started off really slow – I think it’s a third of the way through the book when Knox and Syd meet. After that, it picks up, gets a little weird with an almost-illogical-seeming explanation, then settles down for an action-packed ending. It was good, but not great.

The world was nicely done. Everything from the economic system to the slang terms to the technology was well-thought-out and made perfect sense. I loved the dark, gritty, dangerous Valve where Syd lived even more than the dark, less gritty, dangerous-in-a-subtle-way rich world where Knox lived.

Proxy was good. But Syd’s homosexuality killed it for me. I don’t really regret the read, but I think I’ll have to check some reviews for homosexual characters before I read anything else by Alex London.

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