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:


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.