Wednesday, July 31, 2013

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Title: Proxy
Author: Alex London
Narrator: Andrew Sweeney
Series: Proxy, book #1
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Publication Date: June 18, 2013
Source: purchased audio
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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.

Proxy caught my attention with an intriguing premise and that very science-fictiony cover.  It takes an interesting concept -- the whipping boy -- and throws it into a futuristic setting, rife with nearly incomprehensible technological advances, making the barbaric act of doling out punishment to a substitute seem even more archaic.

The ethical issue of using a proxy weighed heavily on the novel, just as it did on the characters.  When Knox and Syd meet, they do so as virtual enemies, using each other for their own means:  one to infuriate his father, the other for mere survival.  But as the boys journey outside of the city to escape their harsh realities, a shaky alliance morphs into true friendship.  The two boys grow to see each other as more than the roles they've played in society thus far, more than just Patron and Proxy, and they start questioning the system and everything it stands for.

This is not just the story of two boys who change their positions in an unchangeable world.  They're faced with moral and ethical dilemmas galore, as well as what it means to sacrifice oneself for the good of all. (Syd's full name is Sydney Carton, a la Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities, so it seemed inevitable that the theme of sacrifice would appear in this novel.) Knox and Syd make friends -- and enemies -- along the way, but this is one of those stories where you're not sure who to trust and who to stab in the back.

It wasn't until closer to the end of this book that I was able to connect with the characters at all and really rally behind them. And that had to do a lot with Knox's own personal growth and how it was perceived by others.  The characters in this story were complex and dynamic, continually growing and changing as the circumstances warranted, which was rather fun to observe when one started out as a rich playboy and the other as an ostracized homosexual ne'er-do-well.

Andrew Sweeney did a great job separating each character, giving each a voice of their own.  Knox and Syd were like night and day, and Sweeney did a good job of conveying that in the voice he used for each. And when it came to narrating female dialogue, he didn't take his voice up a few octaves as some narrators are wont to do, which is much appreciated by this listener.

I liked Proxy...I didn't love it, but I liked it.  And I'd still definitely recommend it for those who are still on a dystopian kick but are looking for a new entry in the genre.  Proxy is definitely different, and I mean that in the best possible way.  I'm looking forward to seeing what's next for this odd couple, assuming there is more in store for them with that ending.  *bites nails*

This GIF is so apropos, it's not even funny...but it kinda still is. You guys probably aren't even old enough to remember The Odd Couple -- the old movie with Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon or the tv series of the same name.  Shoot, I'm not really old enough either, but my dad made sure I caught all the "classics". Ha! But those guys were day and night...kinda like Knox and Syd.

Rating:  photo 3-1.png 1/2

About the author:

Alex London writes books for adults, children and teens. At one time a journalist who traveled the world reporting from conflict zones and refugee camps, he now is a full time novelist living in Brooklyn.

Find Alex:

Website | TwitterFacebookGoodreads


  1. I'm glad you liked this one. I really liked the night and day to Know & Syd's friendship. I was very thankful to Knox's growth because he was such a jerk in the beginning. I couldn't hate him though. I'm really looking forward to the sequel. :)

  2. This one has me interested & got to love the Sid Carlton connection.

  3. Oh man I am DYING to read this. At first I was put off by the whole whipping-boy thing because it's one of those practices that just makes me cringe, but I keep hearing that it is amazing and DIFFERENT which makes me eager. I'm scared about the ending though.

  4. Agree with you -- liked this one much more than I expected (I'm not such a big scifi reader.)

  5. Like, but not love. Hm. I'll probably read it then, but all the ethical issues make me a tad nervous :) Great review!

  6. I really want this one, so I'm glad you enjoyed it and pointed out how the characters evolve and that it's different from other dystopians! I haven't actually read all that many but part of hte reason for that is that I read descriptions, and it often all sounds very similar, which gives me an overall feeling of 'meh' and makes me walk out of the store without buying any book at all.
    I also didn't know that Syd is homosexual! Another reason why I want to read the book. There should be more GLBT characters in YA.
    Great review, Jen! Sorry you only liked but not loved it. You've made me curious about what you thought was missing, though?

  7. It's a story full of action, full of twists, a bit of romance, a bit of heartache but what this story does is make you evaluate your life and the choices you make.

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