Spoiler Rating: Low
This book was an awful choice for me, coming out of Throne of Glass. Why, you ask? LET ME TELL YOU.
Knox was born into one of the City’s wealthiest families. As 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 both boys realize that the only way to beat the system is to save each other, they flee. Yet Knox’s father is no ordinary Patron. 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.
A fast-paced thrill ride of a novel full of nonstop action, heart-hammering suspense and true friendship—just as moving as it is exhilarating.
- This is very much a Message Book, and its messages about class, income inequality, consumerism, and debt are incredibly important. If young adults read this book and pause to consider its messages, then hell yes. Two thumbs up.
- Syd is a young gay man of color (with an unknown racial background). His sexuality is briefly in the spotlight, with unpleasant results, but isn’t in any way a focal point of the story. He’s just a protagonist who happens to be gay.
- The technology featured in the book is fascinating and believable (for the most part). It’s different enough from what we have today to be fresh and exciting, while still being somewhat familiar—the best combination for sci-fi future tech, in my opinion.
- The book focuses on developing friendships, not romances. It’s a refreshing change of pace from all those dystopian YA books that funnel as much (or more) energy into their romances as into their action/adventure plots.
- I didn’t like either Syd or Knox, the two protagonists; Knox is a jackass, and Syd’s just bland.
- The secondary characters were flat as cardboard.
- As great as it is to see a YA novel focus on friendship rather than romance, (a) I didn’t believe in the friendships forged, and (b) give me gay romance in YA. The book isn’t entirely devoid of romance; Knox gets to enjoy a smidge of romance with a girl. It felt like salt in the wound, that the straight protagonist got a little romance, but the gay one didn’t. Why couldn’t that female character have been a guy, and the romance given to Syd? There’s literally no reason. Bah.
- The characters’ motivations for their actions were on a scale of Nonexistent to Unconvincing, and it was so damn frustrating to read. I 100% do not believe the plot would unfold the way it does in the book, because I 100% do not believe the characters would do what they did. The terrible motivations were painful throughout the book, but especially agonizing in the climax, which features one character’s instantaneous, 180° personality/mentality/morality change.
- The rhythm of the action was aggravating and predictable: the protagonists would physically see danger, then run a little, then stop and talk about stuff (most of which didn’t need to be talked about, and wasn’t nearly as important as getting to safety), then see that the danger had caught up to them (usually surrounding them)—and repeat.
- I think the POV was supposed to be omniscient, but failed SO HARD. Honestly, I found the book almost unreadable because it consisted entirely of head-hopping between Syd and Knox (and sometimes a third character), often from one paragraph to the next—and sometimes even within the same paragraph. I’d read one long paragraph in Knox’s POV, then assume the next long paragraph was also his, only to find out at the VERY END OF THE PARAGRAPH that nope, it was actually Syd’s POV. So I’d have to go back and reread the second paragraph, reframing it from Syd’s POV. This is the worst. Here’s a great article about omniscient POV that explains the difference between it and third-person head-hopping, if you’re curious.
- This book falls squarely into (while also subverting) the It Sucks To Be The Chosen One trope. The trope itself isn’t necessarily good or bad, so I won’t categorize it as either. That said: I don’t like the trope, personally, but I did like how it was subverted. (Well, I liked it in theory. It wasn’t pulled off very well.)
Yeah, I’m giving this book a low rating, but hey, if you’re craving a Message Book and prioritize its message over its quality of writing, Proxy might be a fantastic book for you. Check it out, maybe.