- high concept dystopias with social commentary
- LGBT characters defined by personality, not sexuality
- a critical exploration of class and privilege
But for all Proxy is trying to accomplish, it’s an uneven read with flawed writing and confusing perspective shifts.
Proxy by Alex London (2013)
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.
My result: Not recommended
Reading Proxy is an exercise in frustration. The concept and ideals are interesting, but the writing doesn’t deliver.
The world of Proxy is starkly divided into privilege and poverty. Debt is how the rich control the poor. Syd has been in debt since before he could talk; Knox wants for nothing. And as Knox’s proxy, Syd is punished for every crime his patron commits.
The systematic enslavement of the poor through debt is startlingly easy to accomplish here. There’s no escape from the cycle of poverty, no crime a patron can’t escape. Proxy aims to make you think about the financial inequalities of the modern system and in that, it succeeds.
Proxy also accomplishes a very rare achievement. Syd is gay, as well as technically gifted, quiet, skittish, and a sucker for a sob story. Sexuality is part of his identity, not the sum of it. And the plot is driven entirely by other factors.
Unfortunately, the writing is deeply flawed. Plot solutions feel contrived, and most of the action scenes in the first half made me roll my eyes at the convenient resolutions. I was resting at a solid two stars and fighting a dnf. Then at halfway, the story picked up and I found it a little easier to keep going. Also at halfway, the two viewpoints stopped alternating chapters and instead started head hopping. It was jarring, but clear enough to finish.
I debated whether to be generous and give Proxy three stars. I do like what it’s trying to accomplish. But in the end, I can’t forgive the sloppy execution. Proxy is book one of a series I will not continue.
Since my review was negative, here’s another viewpoint:
Lezbrarian’s five star review
Have you read Proxy? What do you think?