Sunday, 3 August 2014

Review || Proxy by Alex London

Proxy (Proxy #1) by Alex London ★★★★☆
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. him? Can she trust him?

Despite a disappointing cover change, Proxy exceeded my expectations. While I'd probably only give it a 3.5 stars at the end of the day, it was still a great read.

There's a whole world here waiting to be discovered, but London doesn't seem to believe in waiting around, because once this book gets rolling it doesn't stop. There are hints dropped along the way--the naming conventions and slang, for example, just get dropped into casual conversation and you have to figure it out as you go. Which I do enjoy when it's done well. And it's not that it was done poorly in this book, but it was more that I felt like I was left wanting a little bit. I wanted to know more, I wanted more depth.

But I didn't get it, because this was a thrill ride from top to bottom. The pacing is fast and super fun. Once you get into the meat of the story, you're going to have a hard time putting it down.

That said, the pace left a few things to be desired. Some of the major changes that happened in the characters were a little abrupt. Some of it was a limitation of the POV, I think, but there was definitely part of it that was because no one really had time to catch their breaths.

The story itself was very reactionary as well. I felt like our main characters weren't driving the story, but being driven by the plot. Which, as an action book, is something that I can understand. But I would've liked to see more agency with all of them.

One other place that I think could've been stronger in this book was the diversity. London casually includes racially and sexually diverse characters into this world, without making their main story arc hinge on that diversity. Which is really really awesome. But it still felt a little bit like it was being dangled just out of reach.

Let me explain. Syd is our main character. He's gay. There's no love interest for him in this--which, okay, there doesn't have to be. But if Syd had been a girl (or hell, straight for that matter) you can almost guarantee there would've been something.

And throughout the whole story there's this sort of kiss-baiting thing that's going on. For plot reasons, Syd and Knox lock lips more than once. But it's played off as this big "no homo" thing, from Knox's end at least. Knox also constantly reminds us how totally straight he is. And Marie, who could've been so much more, ends up largely as the eye-candy to remind us of Knox's heterosexuality.

I, for one, don't believe it for a second. I need Knox to be queer so desperately. I just. Have a lot of feelings about this. Although, there was definitely a few moments in there where I was really sure the three of them would all hook up. And I am so down with that as well.

All in all, while the book never really delivered on the shocking twists it promised (there were twists, they just weren't that shocking) and the pacing was frenzied, the biggest problem I had here was the ending. The climax hit so suddenly and then there was no denouement. At all. It was just over.

Until the sequel.

And yeah, okay, it made me want to rush out and acquire book 2, so well done there. But I still think it could've been handled differently. Or, at least, tied up temporarily differently.

Still, a worthwhile read and one I definitely enjoyed. I will be on the hunt for the sequel. (I've already sent in a request to my library to get their hands on a copy!) If you like your dystopia with a healthy dose of action, check it out.