Google+ YA Romantics: Just Finished Reading … Proxy by Alex London

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Just Finished Reading … Proxy by Alex London

Review of Proxy
by Alex London
To be published on June 18, 2013
by Philomel

Source: bought from indie bookstore

Connect with the author: website : Twitter









Summary (adapted from Goodreads:) 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 tortured. But 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. 

Ten words or fewer:  Historical meets futuristic, buddy caper, guy friendships.

My take:  Proxy takes the intriguing historical concept of the whipping boy (which, according to Wikipedia, was a boy who was raised with a prince and punished when the prince misbehaved) and transplants it into a bleak futuristic setting.

In historic times, the prince and his whipping boy were raised together. In fact, King Charles  I reportedly gave his whipping boy a royal title.  In Proxy, the whipping boy is transformed from a royal privilege to a perk of the uber-rich. Knox and Syd, his proxy, know of one another's existence, but have never met until the fateful day when Knox steals a car and crashes it, killing the girl in the passenger seat. So Syd is summoned and horribly punished, then sentenced to a penal colony.

After that, Syd and Knox end up on the run together. At this point, It seemed to me that the book became one of my favorite kinds of stories -- a buddy caper. Syd and Knox are as comically mismatched a pairing as the guys in my favorite bromantic comedies: Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte in 48 Hours, Danny Glover and Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon, Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor in Silver Streak. Syd is poor and gay. Knox is rich and straight…ish. (There's a running joke about a kiss between them.)

The book's third-person narration switches off between Syd and Knox's points of view. But as the two guys join forces, the narrative occasionally alternates their POV mid-chapter, even mid-scene. This is not a typical choice for a YA book, and I know some readers are not happy with this sort of "head hopping." It wasn't a huge problem for me, given the fact that it was skillfully done, and that Syd and Knox have an unusual connection through their proxy arrangement.

It thought the strengths of Proxy were its cool concept and inventive story world, plus the developing friendship between the two guys. There are never enough guy friendships in YA! The book's heavy use of slang and lingo was disorienting at times, but I loved the odd literary and historical references that also popped up. Knox's car accident seemed like shades of Chappaquiddick. Syd's name is Sydney Carton -- as in A Tale of Two Cities. And indeed, the theme of sacrifice come up in the story. Proxy's relentlessly brisk pace suited the story, even if it did prevent much introspection about some interesting ethical issues -- like the proxy arrangement.

I really enjoyed Proxy. It was imaginative, fast-paced and a whole lot of fun.

AND… I'm giving away my copy of this book on Freebie Friday -- be sure to stop by!

26 comments:

  1. I loved this one! I thought the running joke between the two and the kiss was hilarious. They made a great pair. :)

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    1. It was much funnier that I expected. Then I was on the author's website, and he wrote a MG book about a squid with a wedgie, so there you go. I love unexpected humor!

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  2. This is the first review I have read of this book, and it really does sound like a fascinating premise! The head swapping thing definitely bothers me as a reader though, so that is strike. But I do like the buddy caper concept you talked about the booking having:)

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    1. I only noticed it a bit toward the end. I wouldn't let it deter you!

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  3. Hmm a good face-paced read is what I need. Thanks for reviewing.

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  4. I need to read this, it seems like an awesome book.
    Btw, isn't Sydney Carton from A Tale of Two Cities? :)

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    1. OMG -- yes. I don't know why I wrote Crime and Punishment. I was thinking of the right book but wrote the wrong title.
      Going to fix that.

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  5. oh wow, you bought it at an indie store and it isn't even officially out.. thats awesome. This does look like a humorous book and I learnt something from it.. didn't know the concept of a whipping boy existed!

    - Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

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    1. I know -- I was SO excited to find it. Is it bad that I don't tell them when they put stuff out early??

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  6. La la la...I am not reading this yet since I have to write my review next week, but I can't wait to hear what you thought! I think we might've had a quick convo in passing, though, and I think we agreed on it. I'll have to check your GR review when I'm done to see. ;)

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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  7. This was in one of my goodies bags from a publisher event and I am looking forward to reading this. Sounds really good.

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  8. I got this one at the Penguin party and I'm really happy to hear that you liked it! Is Alex the same person as Knox? And if not, how does Knox enter the picture? Maybe I missed that. BUT I do LOVE that this features a strong guy friendship and that it is fast paced. As I said, I met Alex London at the Penguin event and he was so much fun! It made me want to love his book. Great review as always.

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    1. Okay, I think my brain was on vacation when I wrote this. No, Alex is the author and Knox is the character. ...

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  9. I don't think I ever knew what this book was even about! It sounds great though, and very different which is a big WIN! I'll have to keep my eye out for it!

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  10. I think the name Sydney Carton is *so* perfect for this character-it took me a while to figure that out but I really appreciated the symbolism there. I'm almost done with this book and mostly like it although I wish I liked the main characters more.

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  11. 2nd good reivew I have read of this today, and the innovative plot really is catching my attention

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  12. I agree, I rarely see well done guy friendships in YA. I had no idea what to expect out of this book, but I have to say I'm more interested in reading it now that I know there's the whole buddies on the run factor. Glad you enjoyed this, and wonderful review!

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  13. This sounds good! Glad you enjoyed it :)

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  14. It's great that you liked the book. It does sound good.

    Andreea

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  15. I was excited to read this before skimming your review, but now I'm even more intrigued! I think guy friendships are missing a lot from YA, too, but I did love the one in the Elementals series between Gabriel and Hunter, even if it was a bit rocky. Can't wait to read this one!

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  16. I agree about liking guy friendships. I loved Will's and Jem's in The Infernal Devices. We need more of those! Sounds like an interesting book.

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  17. This book has been on my TBR watch list, and now you've convinced me that I HAVE to read this! It really sounds like a unique book, isn't it? Plus I like the idea of a guy narrating for a change, and that it focuses on friendship between guys instead of romance. And I love fast paced books! :) Is this a standalone or does it have a cliffhanger ending?

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  18. I don't know why I thought I wasn't interested in this one, because this one sounds AWESOME!

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  19. Definitely not enough bromances in YA! LOL You made this sound a lot more interesting that I originally thought. I always thought the concept of a whipping boy was ridiculous. Interested in what happens when these two are on the run. It's always funny seeing opposite characters try to come together for something.

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