100-Character Breakdown: A thriller sci-fi novel with a gay hero, intensely intricate characters, and a complex setting.
Genre: Young adult, sci-fi, LGBTQ, dystopian
Publisher: Philomel Books/Speak (June 2013)
After Knox Brindle kills someone in a car accident, Sydney Carton is sentenced to death for a crime he didn’t commit. Knox is a rich patron, and Syd is the indebted proxy who receives punishment in Knox’s place. In Alex London’s young adult novel Proxy, Mountain City is divided into the Upper City, filled with people living in luxury, and the Lower City, where people live in slums and struggle to repay their debts. Syd only has two years left before he is free of his debt, but Knox’s actions result in his death sentence. But before Syd’s sentence can be carried out, the proxy and his patron are on the run, rushing to escape the high-tech city and its system of debt. As they flee, they struggle with the complications of their relationship and the constant pursuit of Knox’s father, head of the city’s SecuriTech company.
This novel is exciting, fast-paced, full of intricate characters, and set in a deeply complicated world. With datastreams in the bloodstreams of Mountain City’s citizens, robots throughout the city, a programmed human Guardian security force, and a wasteland outside the city, the book has a well-planned, futuristic sci-fi focus. The character relationships are complex and peak with moral conflict and powerful development. London weaves in twist after twist in this wonderfully layered story. Yet one of the best parts of this novel is one of its simplest parts. Syd is gay, or “Chapter 11” according to the world’s slang, but his orientation has very little bearing on his character. Having a gay hero in an action-focused novel is simply a joy that readers deserve to experience. This thriller sci-fi novel blends exciting action with real issues, making it a book that is truly worth a read.