Proxy by Alex London (Proxy #1) / ★★☆☆☆
Summary: As a proxy, Syd must pay for someone else’s crimes, so when his patron, Knox, crashes a car and kills someone, Syd is sentenced to pay a terrible price. Faced with no other choice but to attempt to beat the system, Syd flees – but not without Knox’s help.
He was not unredeemable and he was not a terrorist and he was not just a body they could discard and replace to teach some patron a lesson.
Genre: Young Adult/Dystopian/Sci Fi
This book was…blah. Which is unfortunate, because it started off really strong. I was hooked from the first page and flew through the first half of this book. It sets up for some great characters and intriguing mystery, but as I neared the middle, as things really start vamping up, it just…fell through. Admittedly, there were some plot points I could already see from a mile away, but I’m always willing to ride them out if the plot is unique enough and the characters are leading the way. That’s what I was expecting to happen as I made my way through the first half of Proxy. But once the second half got started…everything just fell into the same old dystopian thriller cliches. Not only that, everything was plain underdeveloped.
The world of Proxy was not nearly as solid as I wanted it to be. It was very stereotypically futuristic (does anyone remember that early 2000s Disney Channel movie Pixel Perfect? That’s what this book made me think of). The system of proxy/patrons – basically in which rich kids have a poor kid to pay for their crimes – was interesting, but even that eventually fell into cliches. My main problem with this book’s plot was that it left nothing to the reader. I knew exactly what this author was trying to impress upon me. It was more of a social commentary than a story. His message literally just came out of the mouths of his characters. I felt hit over the head with it, with the obvious themes, the obvious use of character placement and personality. Everything felt like a piece to a really obvious puzzle. By the end of this book I was very ready to be finished.
The premise of this book presents SUCH AN OPPORTUNITY for fascinating character development, interaction, and depth. During the first half of this book I thought we were going to get that. But again, it fell through and left me with a lot of underdevelopment. Basically we have:
Syd: Proxy. Kind in a world that is not kind to him. Doesn’t want to accept his “destiny.” Gay in a world that is not friendly to gay people.
Knox: Patron. Selfish, spoiled son of dead mother with cliche death story and bad father who hates Knox because he reminds him of his mother. Straight but maybe not?? I wasn’t sure what the author was getting at with his and Syd’s relationship sometimes, it was weird and I wasn’t a fan.
Marie: Obligatory badass female character who joins them on the adventure “for the cause.” Has no depth but at least she’s a badass justice warrior and can tell the boys what’s what and that’s what counts with female characters, right? Another object of romance for straight boy.
This book left me most bitter about the characters. Their interactions were thin and cringey at times, and I felt awkward reading them. If done well they could have been fascinating, because the proxy/patron dynamic had so much potential. ALAS.
Starting out I could tell the writing was nothing fantastic, but it wasn’t bad, and I rolled with it. But again it’s like the first half of this book was was written with the most care, because the moment it started going downhill the writing just spiraled. The most awkward thing about the writing was the way it flipped between points of view. Normally, I might expect POVs to alternate by chapter, but this book was too impatient for that and would go back and forth right in the middle of the text. It took all the tension out of character interactions because, quite literally, I didn’t have to wonder what the other character might be making of the situation when it flipped right to his thoughts and motivations.
The writing just lacked an ability to leave anything up to the reader- the characters, the themes, the mysteries. It was all much too obvious and the moment the book went south I felt no tension at all for the rest of the book.
Was I satisfied?
No. I give it two stars because I did genuinely enjoy the first half, but after that everything was underdeveloped and I just wanted it to be over. No sequel for me.