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.

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Under the Never Sky Book Review

Since she’d been on the outside, she’d survived an Aether storm, she’d had a knife held to her throat, and she’d seen men murdered. This was worse

-Amazon Book Description

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

I feel like the year was 1956 when I read this. So long ago. And I don’t even have my notes with me…but I think I can still write a fair review.

Aria and Perry are the heroes of this story. (It’s told in first person, alternating points of view.) Aria lives quite the sheltered life inside the Reverie– the world outside is actually quite dangerous for once. It’s not just propaganda. There are dangerous Aether storms and the world is decidedly harsher. But one thing leads to another and Aria finds herself kicked out of the Reverie’s safety and into Perry’s world. Naturally, he is unwilling to keep her around as they have separate agendas, but she grows on him and vice versa and they end up both seeking a better world (one without the Aether storms) with their friends…I think– it’s been a while.

So basically this story is an adventure with Aria and Perry walking around. A lot.

Anyways, Aria and Perry are good narrators. I think I prefered Perry a little bit more as Aria’s single-minded determination to achieve her goals seemed kind of fruitless, but probably because I could guess at what was going to happen to her and her goals long before it did. So she was pinning after something that I knew wasn’t going to end well. Did that make her unbearable? Not really, just not as good as Perry.

Perry for his part was humorous. I don’t know if that was intended or not. Probably wasn’t. But the way he could barely keep his hands off Aria– when that happened, I laughed. Like at one point, they were training with swords or whatever and he was like, too close, can’t handle it and handed the job off to his friend. Okay, so it’s one of those things where you have to be there to see the humor, but I guess you hardly see a male lead weak-kneed over a girl, so it was funny. And nice.

And since we’re on the topic of the love story, (though I hardly know how we got here) it was one of the better ones I’ve read. Solid. Not too whiny.

The final stages of the story I felt were a little passive, a little hurried. Like the author was trying to wrap things up. I didn’t see the point since there was obviously going to be a sequel. Just cut it off when the going is good if there is gonna be more to come anyways.

Have I covered everything yet? I feel like I’ve talked a lot without really saying much. Or I’ve just said a lot and made no sense. I’m reading what I wrote and man I sound nuts.

The writing was good. Definitely read-able. The plot was engaging, though the back story has some explaining to do. But maybe in later books?

To be honest, this book may be better than I’m making it seem, but it reminds me very strongly of two books I’ve read with two very similar concepts. So first, the Aether storms sweep through the change the people and the landscape and they’re dangerous and magical right? But I experienced that in the amazing story of The Storm Thief. I mean, it’s basically the same thing, except The Storm Thief was better. And then Perry, he’s supposed to be a savage. But to be honest, he wasn’t that wild. Maybe the society was a little more violent, but if you want real savages in heart-stopping action, then I’d choose The Inferior any day– it’s such a good book.

So you see my dilemma here is that this book is a lesser combination of stories that I loved. But most people probably haven’t read either of those books. I highly recommend them, guys. But if you’re set on this one, I suppose you could do worse. Maybe the sequels will blow me away.

Yeah so to end this, if my feels for this book were a salsa, they’d be mild.

Word.

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.

Wither Book Review

What if you knew exactly when you would die?

-Front Flap

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Right, so I just finished re-watching an episode of Doctor Who involving what is basically the scariest thing ever (Time of the Angles episode) and I’m duly freaked out. So I figured a book review was the way to solve all my problems. A book review at 12:03 in the morning.

Anyways, this story, first of all, had a lovely layout. See how the cover has all those circles and lines? That was carried through on the copyright pages and the chapter titles and everything. I thought it was a nice touch. You can look at what I’m talking about on here.

The story itself was good too. For the most part. It’s about this girl, Rhine, who was stolen away from her twin brother and sold to a rich man named Linden.  She, and three other stolen girls, are then married to Linden. Basically, it’s Handmaid’s Tale, but updated. So she’s supposed to have, to say it lightly, intimate relations with Linden so as to procreate. Despite Rhine’s young age (she’s 16, I believe; Linden’s barely older), early reproduction is very necessary in her world because all the girls die at 20 years and all the boys at 25.

Imagine that. She has four years left to live. Imagine her twin brother, who would have five years to live without the only person in the world that he cared for. That’s sad. Makes you think. Made me think. What would you do with such limited time? I’d only have two years and a few months left. Sucks.

But I digress. Rhine’s story following her capture and purchase is her continued existence in the house of Linden and his creepy father with her two sister wives. As they are living in a house with nothing to do, I would call this the story of a patient teen. I found it interesting, but if you’re looking for action, it is not here. For the great majority of this book, I was really entertained. A lot of that came from the fact that there were lots of little things going on that you could think about. For instance, Linden’s dad is looking for a cure before his son dies. (The fact that Linden’s got a dad is explained; don’t worry, it makes almost-perfect sense.) So you’ve got the fact that he’s up to something shadey, but shadey for a good cause to ponder on. Then there’s Rhine’s escape plans. And the fact that she’s going to die soon. And that her sister-wives and she are all competiting for Liden’s attention. Lots of things to think about when you read to keep you going.

The ending was clearly a set up for more, but I can’t exactly recall if it was a good or bad one. Cliffhanger, or not. It’s been a while since I read this…

Rhine is a good narrator and I liked how intelligent she was. She had a level head, thought things through, and didn’t fall into the cliché of some of these “normal” girls, which is where they think they’re ugly, they read books like Wuthering Heights, and are slow on the uptake and obsessive. Basically, I liked that she wasn’t Bella.  But even more than that, because this is dystopian, it is important to note that she wasn’t Katniss either.  She was somebody new.

Also, I loved her name. Rhine is a river in Germany, and in Norse Mythology there are these creatures called Rhinemaidens. The fact that there is both German and Norse stuff goin’ on here, well I can’t not love it. Bonus points for being easy to pronounce.

You know, I just noticed something. It’s a rare thing that you read a modern book from third person. Perhaps I’ve just been reading the wrong books. Hmm.

Okay, moving on. The writing was good. I mentioned that, already right? Not whiney. Very focused and clear. Story was Handmaid’s Tale, I said that. And when I say that, I mean, it really is like that book. The concepts are so similar. But it was definitely more interesting. I could barely make it through Handmaid’s. The time-bomb attached to this just added a new level of…intensity? I mean, four years is not very long and Rhine clearly has a lot to do, what with trying to escape and all.

Oh, here’s something: so when you read some of these new dystopias, they tend to follow a path. The lead is a female. She’s blissfully oblivious to the flaws of her not-so-perfect society until she meets a strange boy who shows her otherwise. But in this world, what with the disease that kills the boys and girls and the fact that life is still going on more or less the same– well, I’d call it a dystopia, but I can’t really see a way to “rebel” Rhine out of this world. I mean, overthrowing the government would do nothing.  The fact that I’m totally lost on what might happen next is a very good thing. It means I’ll have to read to find out what.

There was also some romance in this book, but it took a happy second place to the fact that Rhine had more pressing matters to attend to. It was cute, I thought, and not overly sappy. Also, it was interesting to read all the conflicting emotions Rhine had for the men in her life– the brother she left behind, her newfound love, Linden, Linden’s father. The contrast was nice. It made opposite feelings (like love and hate for instance) obvious without the author having to state it outright.

The other sister-wives and Liden were somewhat developed. They all had different personalities, but as Rhine was narrating and she was totally interested in them, they didn’t get tons of growth or details. Her love interest, Gabriel, also is barely fleshed out, but considering that there are more books to come, I assume this will change.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. Definitely one of the more interesting ones I’ve read, and as I said, I’m looking forward to continuing this series. Guys, it’s coming to you recommended. I think you should invest some time in this. Really.

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.

Delirium Book Review

The word is: run.

After that the insect men fall on him. He is taken up by all their snapping, ravaging arms and mouths like an animal being set upon by vultures, enfolded in all their darkness.

–pg 440

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

 

In Lena’s world, love is a disease. It can kill you if you have it, and it can kill you if you don’t. So the kind government has created a cure which all people must have by their eighteenth birthday. Lena, 17, is counting down the days until she can have the procedure done and become a calm, mature adult with a purpose in her society. That is, until she meets Alex,  a rebel who is about to teach Lena a thing or two about life.

So this is another dystopian story. I’m pretty sure this is going to be the new phase—or rather, it is the new phase for YA writers. I’ve seen so many of them lately! I’ve read a few…they’ve been varied in quality.

This one was definitely readable. The writing was easy to follow, though sometimes, I thought a little excessively flowery. I felt like the extensive descriptions didn’t always fit the mood of the story. Well, I mean they fit, but they made it seems more day-dreamy and less scary. And at first that works while Lena is happy with the world she lives in, but in the end, when everything is falling apart and she’s still moony over rocks and flowers and stars…my eyebrows were up in slight bemusement.

I thought for the most part Lena was a good narrator. I liked the fact that she had emotions and, you know, felt them. She gets angry with her best friend, she falls in love, she finds some big secrets out and I thought her depictions of those feelings were real.

As a character, I would say that I’m totally, utterly, and completely sick of having “normal” girls are main characters. They’re all supposed to be average looking and yet the hottest guys fall for them. That’s totally unrealistic. I mean, it would be believable if say the girl thought the boy was hot, but everyone else thought he was plain, which is how all these boys are seeing these girls. I mean, that makes sense. But this one way beauty thing is just too weird….

But, that’s not my real point here. What I’m actually trying to say is that there is no diversity between these girls. They’re all white. They all claim to be plain. They all speak like they have no self-confidence but their actions don’t match that. I just find that rather irritating. When was the last time you saw a colored girl as a main character? God, I’m pretty sure that was Katniss of the olive skin, and nothing before or after her.

It’s like, there are other people out there! But more than that, Lena doesn’t stand out in my mind. She’s just another YA romance girl created as a blank slate so that we readers can easily slip into her character and live her love story. Which is very considerate of the authors, but it gets boring after the first five Bellas. I mean Lenas. I mean—forget it.

So Lena is just…average. Alex is obviously perfect with just enough secrets to make any teen girl swoon. Together I thought they made a nice couple. I really liked that Alex had started to like her first, and in the same manner that many a teen boy starts liking a girl: he just sorta saw her….and then wanted to get to know her. I thought that was non-creepy and perfectly sweet and their romance develops quite nicely from there.

The over-18s in Lena’s world are all zombie like, which I guess makes sense since you can’t love anything so there’s really no point in living proper. Lena has a friend, Hana who I thought was nice and real. She was brave and adventurous, but to a point which I think most people would be given the circumstances.

In terms of plot, I called a lot of the things. I even called that Alex would rip his shirt off when Lena started bleeding at one point because flesh wounds always mean it’s a good time to get naked. On a related tangent, when Alex uses his shirt to make bandages he rips it up. People do this a lot in books. I don’t understand how. I mean, try as I might, the cotton I wear must be made from plants of steel because I can’t rip them to save my life. Maybe the adrenaline rush of these dire moments gives you shirt-ripping abilities. Or maybe it’s because Alex took his shirt off and was totally stare-worthy. Like if you’re hot enough, the shirt just rips itself.

Ahem. Moving on. So the plot was there to support the romance for the most part, though I feel like it’s probably going to swell in later books and become the rebellion you knew it was going to be from page one.

I just reread that sentence. Plot to support the romance…I suppose you could say the plot was romance. Whatever. What I mean was that not much else happens besides them falling in love and anything that does you could’ve guessed.

Despite that, the book was still entertaining. I read through it pretty quickly. It boasts some 400 pages, but the book is about the size of my hand and the font is still like 12 or something. In actuality, I think it’s really no more than 200. I read it in about 5 hours. So it’s short. But I’m glad Oliver didn’t try to drag things out. The pacing was good.

Before I say what’s wrong, I just want to mention really quick that even though I ranted about Lena being just like all the other girls before, there was one line in the story that really stood out to me:

Lena is getting ready to meet some boy that she doesn’t care about and her aunt says something like “I suppose that’s as good as it gets,” and Lena narrates that she was surprised to suddenly remember that she was supposed to be plain because Alex had made her feel beautiful.

I loved that. Just that one sentence that shows a nice, healthy, relationship where the girl grows because of the romance, makes this book so much better.

Okay. Now, to bring things down a notch: I have to say that this book lacked one big dollop of believability because it is never really explained why in the world America would even consider mass-removing love. We’re the one culture that is frankly obsessed with it. I can’t see how people would agree to that. I actually don’t see how our government would agree to that.

I think America is a really bad place to set up dystopias with super controlling governments unless there has been a natural disaster or a huge war that ripped the country up. Because we have such an intricate system of checks and balances and a very passionate population that loves to scream freedom more than anything else, I feel like we would never just give in to something like that. We don’t really know how Lena’s version of the country got to be the way it is, but unless that is explained, I feel like this is more fantasy than dystopia because giving up love—love of anything! Life, art, music, soccer—seems wholly unrealistic. Even if it was painted as a disease.

Overall, this book was a solid read. It’s pretty girly and I think that in later series there will be more action and that Lena really has the potential to develop as a character. I’ve got my fingers crossed that this doesn’t become a love triangle because I’m so sick of those.

There were a few cuss words (f-bombs and others) and make out scenes that make it unsuitable for younger audiences. Well, I mean it’s YA lit so I have no idea why a 2nd grader would be reading it, but you can never tell these days.

So anyways, for a series starter, I’d say this series hasn’t quite met its full potential yet, but I think if executed properly they will be quite a thrilling set. The end was quite exciting. Definitely one of the better romance-dystopians (very similar to the book Matched) and I’m looking forward to reading more.

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.