Just when I've been about to turn my back on dystopians this book comes along and manages to rekindle my love for the genre. With wonderfully nuanced characters and crazy plot twists I found myself engrossed in a world where the rich (Patrons) have everything and the poor are burdened with debt.
Enter Knox, born to one of the wealthiest families he wants for nothing. He has money, looks and a Proxy to take all his punishments for him. He's all up for causing chaos because he knows he won't ever be blamed. But when Knox crashes a car and kills his passenger, his Proxy is set to die in his place. Syd, the Proxy, won't stand for it and runs. Caught in this tangle of lies and deception, Knox and Syd form an unlikely truce because to get out of this alive, they'll both need their wits about them.
Proxy is told in the alternating voices of Syd and Knox. Knox is your typical rich boy, spoiled, uncaring, entitled and always after his next conquest. Let me add that he's also an excellent hacker despite blundering about in school. He's the type of character I usually hate but London's characters aren't one-sided and being a spoiled brat isn't all Knox is. He's got issues with his father and the events that led to the death of his mother and his growth later on in the story is admirable. So while I did want to punch him in the face I as wanted to give him a hug and tell him that things'll get better.
Syd is Knox's Proxy. Every blunder and every mistake Knox commits, Syd is there to take punishment. Being a Proxy is a way for the poor to pay off their debt (school, medical bills, the like) and Syd was just the unlucky boy who got picked. Did I mention that he's also gay? I love how London didn't make such a fuss about Syd's being gay. It's not an Issue book, it's definitely a sci-fi/dystopian where the protagonist just so happens to be a boy who likes boys. Syd's also a special little butterfly - there's something in his blood that might just put an end to the social divide but he's going to need the help of the rebels to figure it all out.
London has created such a great book. It's got social issues, the divide between the poor and the rich is glaringly obvious; well crafted actions scenes and a bunch of cool tech that I wouldn't mind playing with. His characters are multidimensional, not flat paper dolls to be jerked around. The plot's all twisty and focuses on the unwitting friendship (sort of) between Syd and Knox. The ending was a surprise. I never expected the book to close on that note and I'll admit to feeling a little bereft after finishing the book. Do I recommend this book? Yes. YES. Pick up Guardian while you're at it.