Proxy Book Review

“Some debts cannot be repaid.”

-Book Cover

Proxy by Alex London

Okay so this was totally not the book review or even the writing I planned and making my comeback with; I’m pretty sure the only reason this is happening right now is the Russian Waltz I’m listening to and the fact that this is makeup-removal avoidance tactic number one. So I mean great for you guys (if there are any of you left?) and also great for me. Not great my my skin but whatever. It’s only like my largest organ.

Alright so I was searching for a picture of this book to use for my cover and I almost took one of me and the book because they were so scarce. But, crisis avoided: I found one. And while I was searching I noticed that this book had a solid 3.9 rating on goodreads and I nearly bust a lung laughing. Because seriously? Seriously?

I can see why ye average man might get overwhelmed and dizzy around this book. It has a really appealing concept: In the world of Proxy, life is so entwined with technology that living without it is completely inconceivable. However, the biotech required for even the most basic of lifestyles is astronomically expensive and unless you were born into extreme wealth– which of course a small percentage are– you must purchase your biotech on credit. This accumulates tons of debt that would ruin your life, though how is unclear. Because if you’re super poor and living in the slums and you have all this debt, and a debt collector comes what could they possible do other than kill you, which might happen anyways because you’re so poor? You are already at the bottom. The justice system in this book is very unclear. Anyways debt sucks unless you are lucky enough to have a wealthy patron purchase your debt.

(It is alluded that these debt purchases are bundled and sold a little like how our mortgages were pre-crisis so the financial system behind this is clearly not stable; yet there has been no mention of economic crashes past or future due to this, so I mean plot hole or Ri completely misinterpreting the book? You should read it and tell me. )

When a patron purchases your debt you become their child’s proxy. This means that for any crime that your child commits, no matter how big or small, the proxy will take the punishment, which is normally some kind of electric shock. For our leads Syd, the proxy, and Knox, the patron, the system has been working quite well. Knox never has to learn from his many mistakes and Syd is almost free of his debt and about to go on with his life. Then Knox accidentally kills a girl and in the most entertaining chapters of the book, we follow why this leads to Syd being sentenced to death.

Seeking out Knox’s help the two end up on the run from the police and Knox’s father, and end up inciting a revolution which is not where I thought this story was going. But more on that later.

First, the characters. The most remarkable thing about Syd is that he is gay and black. Or just colored. I mean honestly, his description is so vague which sucks because I can tell you exactly what Knox looks like. But of course the darker guy just various ethnic buzz words. I mean, the only reason I say black is from the cover art. But anyways he’s definitely gay because he gets bullied for it. And while representation is great, it sucks that Syd is poorly written. I feel like there is zero development of his character. He’s a sweet guy, a little romantic, and a little tough, a little slow, and mostly kind. But he’s also totally boring. I would not want to hang out with him. And this is most definitely attributed to the writing. Nothing unique in his dialogue (which is a horrible mush of text speak and bizarre slang) or mannerisms– it’s all very forgettable.

And Knox is definitely not better. He is a walking cliche and a poorly written one at that. He’s your typical rich kid and he has typical daddy issues because pops is too busy working to care. He gets in trouble a lot and is desensitized to watching Syd take his physical punishments, and has thus never learned to take responsibility for his actions. And at one point he decides to help Syd just because it will irritate his dad. Like, wow I’ve so never heard that thinly veiled excuse for plot before. You’d think this brotherly journey of helping Syd escape the police would be a great growth experiment for him, which is what I was expecting the story to be. An action packed bromance.

But  Knox instead moves awkwardly from one cliche to another, evolving into the kid who has finally seen the light, which culminates in an expected, albeit brave, sacrifice towards the end. The bromance is sparse until then. Like, bonding is basically having them in the same scene together. That’s it. It would’ve been okay for not having a bromance; it’s not like the author promised me one. But the problem is without it, it’s just watching Knox become less terrible of a human being and that’s just not very interesting.

And as for the action? The first few chapters are fine but the middle drags. I literally had to force myself to read this book. It was a chore. I barely made it out alive. I can attribute this to two things. First, clunky, robotic writing. The author tried, but where was his editor? There were sentences so bland a burnt potato sauteed in the ashes of my great great grandmother and seasoned with Satan would’ve been more appetizing.

And second, world building. This is really what kills this book. Like the I said earlier, the concept is interesting; but the execution, to put it bluntly, sucks. The science behind the biotech is so spotty, and as the plot progresses and the revolution that is lumped into the story, besides being necessary, is initiated with no real explanation of medical and logistical hows. Spoiler (not really): it’s a virus Syd is hosting which is supposed to shut down the biotech system and wipe everyone’s debts clean.  Will this collapse the economy? How does destroying this system solve any problems? Won’t it just lead to anarchy? Won’t the rich still be rich?  Erasing everyone’s debt won’t change the fact that the poor still won’t have money so how does this help them at all? Is the virus a computer virus? If so, how has Syd been hosting it in his body? All fantastic questions. If you read this (don’t) please tell me the answers.

This book isn’t the worst I’ve read. It’s just not great. And as a final note to a very hasty and poorly structured review (I apologize; it’s late), I want to say that if you have a younger sibling, maybe a ten year old or so, and you’re okay with them reading a little PG-13 violence, then you should recommend them this book. The writing is simple and I feel like they won’t get caught up in the messiness caused by a lack of plausibility. But if you’re older, or you know, a well versed ten year old, then you should probably hold out for one of the next books I’m reviewing. They’re so much better. I promise.

Ri’s Rating:

1.5/5


0. Couldn’t get past chapter one for fear of wanting to kill myself. Book induced suicide…

1: Yuck. Ew. Below Average. Probably didn’t even read the middle and skipped to the end.

2. Ok. Would’ve been better if I’d written the ending and everything else.

3. Not bad at all. Very enjoyable. Quite nice. Recommendable.

4. My kind of book. Near ideal, but something was a little off (annoying names, bad ending, that sort of thing).

5. WOW. Makes me wonder why people watch T.V when this is out there. Really liked it. Don’t expect to see this often.

6 and above. What I want my book to be.

Divergent Book Review

One choice can transform you

-Book Description

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Hey. So. It’s been a while. But in that while I have read so many books that I will more than make up for my absence, starting with this bad boy right here.

I’ve heard rumors that this film has already been optioned for a movie, and I can see why. The plot is simple, but engaging: it’s futuristic world. In this city, people live with in factions; each faction values something different (courage, wisdom, etc). When you are sixteen, you get sorted into a faction. Then each faction has you go through an initiation process. If you fail the process, you are factionless and akin to an untouchable.

Our main character comes from Abnegation, which are selfless people. She finds her life enjoyable, but a little dull. So when she discovers that she belongs to no faction (she isn’t sorted) she chooses Dauntless as she admires their daredevil behaviour and bravery. But the initiation process for Dauntless is brutal, and she comes out of it realizing that the factions have ripped society apart, and that maybe people shouldn’t be just one thing. Why can’t I be Dauntless and Abnegation, she questions.

I wondered the same thing too. I could understand the benefits of this society (selfless leaders, super intelligent doctors) but it didn’t seem plausible. I mean, what would have brought this on? A strong dystopia has a good back story, but this one was lacking.

However, it’s got tons of action. So much. I don’t even know how to deal with it. I mean, if you thought Hunger Games had a lot going on, you were wrong. Because mostly, Katniss sits in a cave. Here, Tris is all over the place, all the time. Something is always happening, and even when things slow down, her mind is jittery enough that you don’t feel it.

Which is why I say that this book was made to be a movie. The writing was blunt, as is the style today, and though basic, I thought it suited the sparse Dauntless lifestyle. It flows just like a movie, like Harry Potter, or Transformers. You’re quickly introduced to the characters, their enemies, their friends, their lifestyle. The brunt of it is spent exploring the new world, and building a mystery. The end is a climax, with action, a villain, and a hint of a sequel.

I’m not going to lie: I enjoyed this book.

I wouldn’t call it the pinnacle of character development, the most original tale, or anything. It was simple, in a good way. Sure it followed a lot of the natural dystopian tropes, but it did have me questioning what I would do in Tris’ shoes. I’m not sure I could have handled Dauntless initiation. It’s a little to brutal for me. At the same time though, I’m not sure I would want to be in any other faction.

I am loath to say this, but there is a romance here. It’s nice, definitely useful in terms of plot, sometimes a little predictable. But I didn’t really want to mention it because besides that, this book is pretty gender neutral and I would like for men to give it a chance. Be brave, boys.

So, kids. If you’re looking for a fun dystopian read and feel like investing a series that I think is definitely going somewhere, here it is: Divergent. The sequel should be out soon, so don’t worry too much if you end up liking it like, a lot. I suspect quite a few people will.

Ri’s Rating:

QQQ/QQQQQ
3/5


0. Couldn’t get past chapter one for fear of wanting to kill myself. Book induced suicide…

1: Yuck. Ew. Below Average. Probably didn’t even read the middle and skipped to the end.

2. Ok. Would’ve been better if I’d written the ending and everything else.

3. Not bad at all. Very enjoyable. Quite nice. Recommendable.

4. My kind of book. Near ideal, but something was a little off (annoying names, bad ending, that sort of thing).

5. WOW. Makes me wonder why people watch T.V when this is out there. Really liked it. Don’t expect to see this often.

6 and above. What I want my book to be.

Catching Fire Book Review

Sparks are igniting.

Flames are spreading.

And the Captiol wants revenge.

-front flap

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire is the sequel to the Hunger Games. It continues the story of Katniss, who last year, won the Hunger Games with her friend Peeta. They now have returned to district twelve, and life is anything but normal. Yes, they have all the comforts of living in the warm and perfect Victor’s houses, but they know that savage Hunger Games will continue to kill innocent people year after year. Not to mention Katniss might have started a series of uprisings, that will have dire consequences if she cannot stop them. The only way? Prove that everything she did in the Hunger Games, including defying the Capitol by threatening to eat deathly berries,  was out of pure love for Peeta. The only problem with that is that Katniss isn’t sure whether or not she is in love with Peeta. And it doesn’t help that Gale has admitted his feelings for her. Packed with action and romance and just as gripping as the Hunger Games, Catching Fire is a book to read and remember.

Catching Fire. Well. Hmm. What to say about this here bad boy?

Let’s start with the plot.  Catching Fire was just as addicting as the Hunger Games was. The plot moved at an excellent pace, never slowing down too much before picking back up again. I have to say that Collins is an author that writes action very well. She makes the brief short sentences work for her in those scenes, drawing the reader in completely. I was totally engrossed. In fact, I can bet you that most people who read this book started it and didn’t stop until they were done. I had to have to book literally pried from my hands by my mother so I could go to sleep.

This is because of the plot. A book. With plot. It’s so refreshing to have a focus on survival and anger rather than lovey-moony-eyed paranormal crap. Not to say that this book didn’t have romance in it…just that the balance was perfect. There storyline focuses around something called the Quarter Quell, which is a special type of Hunger Game that happens every 25 years. I thought it sort of came out of nowhere, but my friend pointed out to me that there was no really good space to put it in the first book, so whatever. It works.

I expected the plot of this second book to focus on the rebellion and it did, but in most unusual ways. I was surprised many a time– by the characters, their decision and the twists this book took.

Like I said, there is romance, but it’s not overwhelming. Which is nice. I think it makes the book more available for people who aren’t 13 year old girls. My brother and dad read this book. I don’t think they would have it there had been more smoochy smoochy in it. So thank you Collins, for making this a family event.

Anyways. The romance. Can I just say that there is nothing I hate more than a flimsy female who can’t make up her mind. I don’t know when Katniss lost her backbone in this respect but all of a sudden it was, “Peeta? Gale? I don’t know!”

Obviously it should be Peeta.

Seriously.

Collins writes him as a much nicer, more selfless dude. He clearly loves Katniss. They are clearly going to end up with each other. So why drag it out with boring love triangles? I can understand how utterly fascinating these geometric pairings can be in certain genres, but it’s so out-of-place and crowd-pandering here that I legitimately cannot understand why Collins makes it happen. Nevertheless, it does. But thankfully, as I stated before, it doesn’t take up too much of the focus. So you can just pretend it doesn’t exisit.

Until people start making out. Then you kinda just have to deal.

Last thing on this subject– no matter how infuriating fickle girls are, at least it was well-written here. Short, blunt, and even sweet. Collins makes it work.

As you know from book one, the writing is done without excess. Lots of short sentences, which really show the innards of Katniss’s mind. It shows that Katniss neither cares nor has the time for flamboyance. This sounds like I’m writing an essay. I offer you my apologies.

The ending is a real shocker. Cliff hanger. I’m dangling here. And the only rope that can save me isn’t coming out for a while. So my advice? If you lack patience, wait a few months for the third book to come out. Otherwise, you just might die.

This review was choppy. I’m experimenting with a new style. Okay. I lied. I just suck at writing. Let’s just drop it, okay?

Catching Fire was just as good as the Hunger Games, meaning that if you liked one, you’ll like the other. But, that also means that if you didn’t like one, you probably won’t like the other. So, be smart about it when deciding if you’re gonna read it or not. I read it. I loved it. I’ll read it again and again until the last book comes out and then one day I’ll read it with my kids.

In terms of literary history, this book breaks no boundaries. But it’s fun. It’s exciting. It’s gritty and bold and fresh. And it’s just worth your time. Just…yeah. Read it.

Ri’s Rating:

QQQ/QQQQQ

35

 

0. Couldn’t get past chapter one for fear of wanting to kill myself. Book induced suicide…

1: Yuck. Ew. Below Average. Probably didn’t even read the middle and skipped to the end.

2. Ok. Would’ve been better if I’d written the ending and everything else.

3. Not bad at all. Very enjoyable. Quite nice. Recommendable.

4. My kind of book. Near ideal, but something was a little off (annoying names, bad ending, that sort of thing).

5. WOW. Makes me wonder why people watch T.V when this is out there. Really liked it. Don’t expect to see this often.

6 and above. What I want my book to be.