Knox was born into one of the City's wealthiest families. A Patron, he has everything a boy could possibly want—the latest tech, the coolest clothes, and a Proxy to take all his punishments. When Knox breaks a vase, Syd is beaten. When Knox plays a practical joke, Syd is forced to haul rocks. And when Knox crashes a car, killing one of his friends, Syd is branded and sentenced to death.
Syd is a Proxy. His life is not his own.
Then again, neither is Knox’s. Knox and Syd have more in common than either would guess. So when Knox and Syd realize that the only way to beat the system is to save each other, they flee. Yet Knox’s father is no ordinary Patron, and Syd is no ordinary Proxy. The ensuing cross-country chase will uncover a secret society of rebels, test both boys’ resolve, and shine a blinding light onto a world of those who owe and those who pay. Some debts, it turns out, cannot be repaid.
I know it seems I do that a lot...just "Wow." And then want to stop in my review because I don't really know what else to say.
Proxy is a very well thought-out and written dystopian take on concept of a "whipping boy." (There's been a couple of well-known books with this line...The Whipping Boy, by Sid Fleischman---the Newberry winner in 1987--, and Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper.) Basically, Knox, the well-off trouble-maker, does things that need to be punished, but is considered to high class (society-wise) to be actually punished himself, so his proxy, Syd, gets the honors. Syd, in exchange, gets his schooling paid for...though he does owe his patron a debt of time as the whipping boy.
But when things take a turn for the worse (Knox is basically convicted of vehicular manslaughter), Syd is sentenced to pay the ultimate price for him. The plan is how society functions, but it all goes south from there....at least in the eyes of Knox's father.
I loved these characters. LOVED them. Syd is this wallflower type, who tries like the dickens to live under the radar. Knox is a spoiled rich kid. Then there's Marie...who Knox thought he'd killed. She's been a spoiled rich kid, but she has a conscience.
Syd comes out of his shell simply because he wants to live--even if living means having to give up his life to end the Patron/Proxy system and erase all debts for everyone. Knox is arrogant and spoiled and really only wants to get back at his cold-hearted father. Marie seeks a greater good for all, not just those who can afford it. All 3 have life-altering truths to learn about themselves, and the adults in their worlds.
The story kept me going. It was twisting and turning, and frankly, I was up all night finishing this one. I was so enthralled that every little interruption to my reading was viewed as a personal insult. Each "chunk" of the story, the various scenes in it, had its own rising and falling action, with a climax that caught my breath. And every time I thought I had a couple pages to relax, I was wrong.