I received this book for free from Gifted in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult
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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 first arrived on my radar as a recommendation from the lovely Fiona Paul, author of Venom. And thanks to the wonderful Nereyda @ Mostly YA Book Obsessed, I was given the chance to check this novel out for myself!
Proxy takes place in a futuristic world riddled with technology that was equal parts awesome and terrifying. Bouncing between two point of views, we are able to view this world from very different perspectives. First we have Knox. We are introduced to him right from chapter one as he drives his father’s stolen car recklessly and seems to not have a care in the world… including the name of his female passenger. Knox considers himself to be a sort of charmer, easily capable of obtaining whatever it is that he wants. And why would he feel different? It’s the truth. He is a patron. He comes from lux technology of the Upper City and money, enough money that his father bought Knox a proxy, someone to take his punishments for him. He is also a skilled hacker, which only adds to his feelings of being privileged. He’s a selfish douchebag and kind of a coward, at first. I must stress this ‘at first’ because something changes in him by the end. Knox is the type of character who grows on you, thank goodness. I went from rolling my eyes at his antics to feeling proud of him and his decisions. I love when a character can surprise you and turn themselves around.
On the other end of the spectrum we have Syd, the proxy, a debt given to him as a baby. Syd has grown up on the poor side of the city, in The Valve. He has become sort of a skilled mechanic, knowing his way inside of the physical technology as opposed to Knox the hacker. He is pretty confident and extremely compassionate in nature, though he doesn’t always see that about himself. These two meet while Syd is on the run from punishments he can’t bear to take, and an unlikely alliance is formed between the duo as Syd learns how important of a role he plays in taking down the system.
Without giving away too many of the details, I applaud the author for writing such a profound and almost philosophical dystopian that felt completely plausibly in a world with fast growing technology. There are not just bots to take the place of some human occupations, such as nannies and in the medical field, but there are datastreams in their blood that link everyone to a datatbase and holos that appear from projectors that also include advertisements (we just can’t get rid of those damn commercials, huh?). I must admit, I had a hard time wrapping my brain around this technology at first like whoa, brain overload. It eventually started to make sense and come together though. I pictured the holos like those seen in Iron Man, to be honest, and I think that’s a fair comparison. Is this the direction the world is taking? It is entirely possible, in my opinion. Maybe not to the same degree, but seeing how far we’ve come in recent years, how much we rely on new technology for everything, it’s scary.
The corruptive system of patron and proxy is its own a topic for discussion. How privileged must you feel to pay an innocent child to be almost tortured for the crimes of your own child? And when I say pay, I don’t mean made rich, I mean having the means to at least be able to go to school. What lessons does it teach kids? NOTHING. It’s terrible to think that this really has happened in the past. This government made me so stabby and I was left full on rooting for Syd to take them down any way he could.
By the time I reached the end, I was so invested and completely heartbroken that it had come to an end. This novel was just what I was looking for in a dystopian with its originality and complex characters. A huge high five to the author for providing us with a main character who is gay in this genre. It was refreshing and added a dynamic I absolutely adored. Now, how long until the sequel?