In a time of great influx of dystopian worlds where the protagonist inescapably is exasperating and nearsighted or the world is a replica of the one before it, one comes across Proxy.
Syd’s life is not his own. As a proxy he must pay for someone else’s crimes. When his patron Knox crashes a car and kills someone, Syd is branded and sentenced to death. The boys realize the only way to beat the system is to save each other so they flee. The ensuing cross-country chase will uncover a secret society of rebels, test the boys’ resolve, and shine a blinding light onto a world of those who owe and those who pay.
Diamond-cut world, complex characters.
Alex London has written an almost too real world in his novel; the similarities in our today’s society are jarringly familiar. The rich inevitably get the upper hand and the poor drown themselves in debts upon debts. But where he improvises, it’s breathtaking. The world as Syd and Knox know it is, in equal measures, sweeping and brute. And the characters. Man, are they complex. One character understands that he has to do certain things to change the system and that it is the right thing to do, but he doesn’t want to be the hero. He just wants to live under the radar. And another’s sole motivation is self-preservation but he grows into the reader eventually.
Not only is the main character gay, he also has darker features. This book practically screams D-I-V-E-R-S-I-T-Y.
Rebellion is the opening act.
In the tradition of The Hunger Games and Divergent trilogies—no, wait. Instead of the commonplace notion that Book Three is Where You Write Rebellion, book one gets all the glory here.
Proxy is a constant blaze of action and tension, of running and bickering. You can trick yourself into believing for an instant that the flow of the story is ebbing towards a steady rhythm and, viola, someone’s shooting someone. It is fast-paced without the reader feeling rushed. You have to hand it to London for carrying it out well.
It is a breath of fresh air in YA dystopia.
The protagonist falls for two persons and she cannot quite decide which one is more important, so she keeps them both right? I mean, it happens in real life, I get it. But c’mon, didn’t enough YA dystopia tackled that already? Proxy, on the other hand, has no reverie for The Great Trinity. The only relationship London focused on was that of a patron and his proxy and that’s ugly. Most of the time. (Hint: there’s Syd and Knox and Marie.)