Proxy by Alex London Audiobook Review

Proxy audioBook: Proxy by Alex London, Penguin Audio, June 4, 2013

Book Info: YA SciFi Dystopia, Audiobook received for review from Penguin Audio. Running time: 8 hrs, 41 mins. Read by: Andrew Sweeney. Also available in hardcover from Philomel.

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

More Info: Goodreads | Audible

Whoa, this was an intense ride! I wasn’t expecting Proxy to pack such an emotional punch, but it got to me. Proxy is part SciFi adventure and social commentary on the haves and have-nots.  It’s also loosely based on the 1986 children’s book The Whipping Boy. I wasn’t familiar with the title, but similar to Proxy, it’s the tale of a rich, spoiled kid who is provided with an orphan to take his punishments for him. Proxy is the futuristic update of the story, and the wealthy teens are called Patrons, and the orphan debtors are called Proxies.

Proxy is the story of one patron/proxy pair. Patron Knox is spoiled and selfish, and frequently misbehaves, so his poor Proxy Sydney is always paying the price. When Knox gets in particularly bad trouble, Sydney faces a brutal punishment. Ironically the only one that can save him is his patron, Knox, and this pair that was never supposed to meet, have to work together to change the world.

The orphan proxies are in their predicament due to a debt they owe society. They own nothing, not even their own names. Their names are assigned from forgotten, out-of-context works of classic literature. Syd’s name, Sydney Carton, is taken from Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. And he crushes on a boy named Atticus Finch. It’s refreshing that the main character in this dystopia just happens to be gay, and it brings an interesting dynamic to the story.

Syd and Knox are both flawed characters in their way, and Knox especially is pretty unlikable for a lot of the story. But it’s gratifying to see their characters develop over the course of the book, and Knox really won me over. The chapters alternate with Syd and Knox’s perspectives so we can see where both of them are coming from. Along for the ride with the pair is a female friend, and she has a smaller yet important role in the characters’ journey.

Proxy is action packed and exciting like my favorite type of dystopias such as The Hunger Games and Divergent. And like those books, Proxy gets the reader comparing the troubled world of the future with the problems in the world today. The third act meandered for me a bit, but was more than made up for with the powerful ending.

I listened to the audiobook of Proxy, read by Andrew Sweeney, and it’s my first experience with his narration. He makes Knox sound like the charming sort of jerk that he is, and Syd sound appropriately more humble and sincere. He does well with the accents and female voices as well; they are not overdone and distracting. Sweeney’s pacing is appropriate to the tension and action of the story and made the book come alive.

I think Proxy has wide appeal for SciFi, action and contemporary fans. The characters, unique setting and social commentary got me thinking. I could easily imagine this one as a movie. The ending is strong on its own, but I’m glad that there will be even more closure with the final book in the duet, Guardian, due out next year.


17 thoughts on “Proxy by Alex London Audiobook Review

  1. I’m so glad this is available on audio. I hadn’t been planning to read this, but it sounds a lot more interesting what I thought it would be. Plus everything is just better on audio! Having a whipping boy is a concept that always fascinated me in historical fiction, how some rulers were raised with whipping boys. I am definitely curious about how that would translate to sci-fi! Awesome review!

    1. Lucy says:

      Yay another audio fan! I wasn’t familiar with the whipping boy concept but it is definitely horrifying in this dystopian society. Hope you like Proxy if you get the chance to check it out!

  2. bookgoonie says:

    This sounds great. Haves & Havenots in a futuristic setting would make a great connection to the past or social discussion of today. Love all these new narrators. I rarely listen to the same person very often. This bodes well for the future of audios. Is there any other connection with the classic lit names? Are their characters’ storylines taking a similar route?

    1. Lucy says:

      There have been a lot of new narrators! I guess that means there’s more and more audiobook demand, you’re right. I think there is a small connection between the classic names and the character arc but it’s mostly for fun 🙂

  3. Scifi is touch and go with me, but I think I would enjoy this one a lot. Flawed characters are the best! I’m glad the audio was enjoyable, it’s always a bummer when the narration is bad.

    1. Lucy says:

      I’m with you, Taylor- I’m not too into Scifi either. But I thought Proxy was quite insightful and exciting. And yes, I agree when the narration is bad it just ruins the book. Hope you enjoy the book if you get the chance to read it 🙂

  4. BermudaOnion says:

    I don’t read much dystopia but, boy, does that sound good!

    1. Lucy says:

      I was pleasantly surprised with Proxy. The synopsis sounded good, but you never know if you’ll connect or not. Hope you do give it a chance!

  5. Tammy Sparks says:

    This sounds great! I’ve seen this book around, but I had no idea what it was about. The concept is pretty horrifying! Thanks for the review, I’ll be adding this to the list.

    1. Lucy says:

      Yes, it is horrifying, isn’t it? The author’s really good at building up the tension too. I think you’ll like Proxy, Tammy.

  6. fishgirl182 says:

    this sounds really interesting, lucy. i am a fan of these kinds of dystopian novels and i think it’s a nice change to have a gay character as well. i will defiintely be checking it out.

    1. Lucy says:

      The writing is pretty great, and since you like dystopia I think you’ll connect with Proxy, Thuy. I appreciated the diversity in the characters too.

  7. Sunny says:

    Wow, a guy narrator doing a girl’s voice well, I’m impressed! I’ll have to think about getting this one then, everything sounds so good!

  8. MsJohannah says:

    This looks like an awesome book! I may have to check it out!

  9. I had absolutely no clue what this book was about, as it turns out, but now I am very intrigued. I’m happy to see a diverse cast and I like the literary references in the names. (*cough*) Also, I am SO glad to hear the male narrator does a female character’s voice well. There are so many narrators (male and female) who screw up the other sex’s voices and it totally takes away from the listening experience.

  10. […] Alex London – Proxy is a great find, a smart dystopia with a gay lead character.  I’m so looking forward to […]

  11. […] Proxy by Alex London – Performed by Andrew Sweeney […]

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