With debt at the heart of the society, you’re either born in to luck or born into servitude. With this intriguing premise, Alex London’s Proxy tells a story of brotherhood, enemies and coming of age. London’s take on the young adult postapocalytic genre and plays on the realistic future in an expertly eerie fashion.
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.
London’s writing style is somewhat simplistic, often times stating things as if matter of fact. This feels utilized quite well, making Proxy a fast, entertaining and overall easy read. One can’t help note similarities to other books in the genre but that turns out to not necessarily be a bad thing. In fact, the only thing that sets Proxy apart from its counterparts, is probably the one topic many will attempt to avoid.
The main character is Syd, a down and out sixteen year old who is, as the book puts it Chapter 11, also known as gay. I adore how London simply makes Syd’s orientation a non-issue. Yes, he faces some teasing at school, and yes there are plenty of jokes but it simply is. While I enjoyed that no nonsense take, I think it’s unfortunate that this element is the only thing that sets Proxy apart from the countless other books out there. Had London brought more unique elements to the table, the message that Syd is simply Syd, would have been a bit more poignant.
While much of Proxy builds up the world and free trade system which is at the core of the book, London rushes through the journey. One character mentions all they had to go through to get to their end destination and I was left questioning that statement. In fact the journey is somewhat uneventful, feeling rushed and muddled. At times, Proxy can feel a bit preachy, dictating what is wrong. However, this inspires the reader to question themselves; a writing element I always enjoy. Overall, Proxy is a great summer book, somewhat light but decently entertaining. That being said, it stands as a more serious easy read with little humor, making it a book only the true post apocalyptic fan may want to read.