Author: Alex London
Page Count: 384
Published: June 8th, 2013
Publisher: Philomel Books
4.5 Stars ★★★★
In the City, there are patrons, and there are proxies. Patrons pay proxies to take on their debt, which includes punishments for misbehavior and crimes. Knox is a wealthy teenage boy who has lived a privileged life, especially compared to Syd, his proxy, who lives in the poorer area of town.
Syd has spent almost his whole life being punished for Knox. He's having a fairly normal, if slightly unfortunate day: he's had to give blood for his patron, he's been outed as gay, and he has offered to help fix a peer's gadget at no cost. Things change when the Guardians come for him, and he is sentenced as a criminal, because Knox's recklessness has killed someone.
Syd decides that he won't throw his life away for a thoughtless, wealthy patron, and he escapes the Guardians. After stumbling across Knox, they go on a journey, hoping to save Syd, and maybe to change their society's entire system, too.
I've increasingly found myself drawn to sci-fi and dystopian fiction. Finding a dystopian novel with an LGBTQ character was a pleasant surprise, and finding this novel at the thrift store brought an extra smile to my face. I can truly say that this book was almost perfect, with my main issue being that I wished that it was longer!
The world that Syd and Knox lived in was described in such detail that it seemed like a real place. Everything from social norms, to social classes, to the legal system was clear and connected and made for a great reading experience. Worlds where everything just fits together nicely, like this one, are the best fictional worlds, in my opinion.
The differences between Syd and Knox made this book even more interesting. Knox was super wealthy and privileged compared to Syd, who lived his life dealing with punishments for Knox and swimming in debt. The juxtaposition of the situations of these two characters was especially important when it came to the way that the author switched perspectives from chapter to chapter: the book was in third person, but the situations of the two boys, especially when they were separate, were described and explained from their eyes or thoughts.
Both characters were likeable in their own ways, though I preferred Syd over Knox. Some of the side characters, such as Syd's friends, played important roles as well and created twists and turns in the story, which of course kept me reading on! The fear that Syd felt, being pursued by people with lots of money and power, was absolutely understandable and brought a special kind of suspense to the page.
The ending was super emotional for me. I can't say much without giving it away, but the twist....I have to read the next book, I need to know what's next for this world!
I recommend this book for people looking for sci-fi or dystopian books with LGBTQ characters. If you like young adult books with themes of power and rebellion, this book is for you.