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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.

384 pages, Hardcover

First published June 18, 2013

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About the author

Alex London

19 books889 followers
The Short Version:

Alex London writes books for adults (One Day The Soldiers Came: Voices of Children in War), children (Dog Tags series; An Accidental Adventure series) and teens (Proxy). At one time a journalist reporting from conflict zones and refugee camps, he is now a full time novelist living in Brooklyn, NY, where he can be found wandering the streets talking to his dog, who is the real brains of the operation.

The Long Version:

C. Alexander London grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. He's an author of nonfiction for grown-ups (under a slightly different not very secret name), books for teens (as Alex London...see above), and, younger readers. He once won a 12-gauge skeet-shooting tournament because no one else had signed up in his age group. He's a Master SCUBA diver who hasn't been diving in way too long, and, most excitingly, a fully licensed librarian. He used to know the Dewey Decimal System from memory.

He doesn't anymore.

While traveling as a journalist, he watched television in 23 countries (Burmese soap operas were the most confusing; Cuban news reports were the most dull), survived an erupting volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a hurricane on small island in the Caribbean, 4 civil wars (one of them was over by the time he got there, thankfully), and a mysterious bite on his little toe in the jungles of Thailand. The bite got infected and swollen and gross and gave him a deep mistrust of lizards, even though it probably wasn't a lizard that bit him.

Although he has had many adventures, he really does prefer curling up on the couch and watching some good television or reading a book. He enjoys danger and intrigue far more when it's happening to somebody else.

He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

See also C. Alexander London and Charles London

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,650 reviews
Profile Image for Robert Russin.
40 reviews43 followers
May 23, 2013
My review at geeksout.org:

Very rarely, I come across a book that manages to surprise me.

We are living in a post-Harry Potter-and-Twilight world, and "young adult fiction" has become synonymous with mediocre imitators of either series. Books for younger readers are lucrative right now, and publishers have swarmed to tales of wizard schools and supernatural romance like flies to a bloated, festering corpse. For every book that manages to find its wings and rise from the rotting carcass of these peripheral bookstore genre shelves (Suzanne Collins managed it with The Hunger Games) there are countless other squirming maggots hatched from the eggs of publishing greed that remain writhing around and devouring their own filth and the respectability of the genre itself. It was with these frustrations that I opened the first page of Proxy, Alex London's upcoming sci-fi for young readers novel.

From the first sentence, I knew that all of my assumptions and hesitations were going to be irrelevant, and what followed was one of the most exciting and surprisingly multi-layered works of YA fiction I have ever read.

And I do hate that genre distinction. There is nothing juvenile or childish about this work. The best YA fiction should only differ from "grownup" fiction in the age of the protagonist, and like the great Roald Dahl, Alex London treats both his readers and his characters with intelligence and respect.

Proxy takes place in a post-societal collapse technocracy (though I hesitate to draw comparisons, think Panem in The Hunger Games, but with sharper teeth). In Mountain City, the 1% live a life of sci-fi utopian marvels in the Upper City and the poor live down in the filth and stink of The Valve. It may sound familiar in concept, but is executed in a fresh way that avoids genre cliches -- the poor are not technically enslaved by the Upper City, but exist in a state of something like mental/spiritual slavery thanks to the debt system. The poor are kept poor by adding years of debt to any goods and services they require to the point where it becomes impossible to ever pay off, and are kept from organizing in any rebellion by the constant distraction of having to compete with each other for resources.

The most interesting and unique take on this familiar setting is the proxy system. When rich kids (patrons) in the Upper City break the law or do something punishable, they are forced to sit and watch the punishment (usually some form of electrical shock, though forced labor also comes into play) be taken out on their proxy. The proxies never see or meet their patrons. In one of the novel's best written and most memorable scenes, we watch as a patron experiences psychological suffering while watching his proxy's physical suffering during punishment. This book goes to some very dark places, and this is a scene that will stick with me for a long time.

It is through the proxy system that we are introduced to the two main characters of the book. Knox, a spoiled rich kid from the Upper City, and his proxy Syd, a poor orphan from below. Once again, if that sounds like an overly familiar character setup, think again. There is nothing one dimensional or obvious about these characters. As we follow Knox and Syd's journey (the details of which I'll avoid spoiling) we see them grow and change and develop in ways that make them feel very real and believable. These two (along with Marie, the third member of their group) are very flawed, but also very complex and smart. If there was ever a time you were reading Harry Potter and wanting to throw the book on the floor because Harry was so stupid and you just wanted to shake him and force him to listen to Hermione, you will be pleased with these characters. Syd and his friends are all intelligent and behave in ways that make sense. This is, at heart, a character-driven story about friendship and self discovery. Those things can be incredibly eyeroll-worthy in lesser hands, but London does a fantastic job at creating some of the most fully realized and believable young people I've experienced and makes the entire thing work. I found myself continuously impressed with each character without it seeming like they were unrealistically perfect. They're not sainted and idealized versions of youth: they lie, they steal, and they kill. This is what makes the book so great. There is a sense of grittiness and honesty about the brutal world of adolescence here that I really appreciated. One of the big pitfalls of writing books with younger protagonists is that they can often come across as incredibly wooden, overly precocious, and unbelievable. Even the greats sometimes make this mistake (sorry Stephen King, I love you, but....)

Some sense of world building is sacrificed for the sake of jumping straight into the action of the story, but this actually works to the book's advantage. We get no Tolkien-style break in momentum to describe the workings and details of the world they inhabit, but rather learn these details gradually through the perspectives of Syd in The Valve and Knox in the Upper City. The Hobbit fan in me sometimes craved more details about the city, but I think in this particular case, the fact that we are only given partial information through each character is effective considering that these are still children and they themselves have only a partial and limited understanding of the world around them.

Syd would be a welcome addition to the YA main character pantheon on these merits alone, but there is one other thing that sets him apart from the rest of the stock orphan protagonists in young fiction. Syd is gay. I knew this going in, and was both intrigued and worried about the way it would be handled -- so much of fiction with a gay main character ends up being limited by the "I was showering in the locker room with the captain of the football team who always beat me up but today I caught him looking at me" type of plot, and I was concerned that Syd's sexuality would either distract from the plot or be treated offensively and clumsily. London pulls this off impressively -- Syd's sexuality, as well as his skin color (darker than his friends and most of white-washed genre storytelling) is at the core of his character but doesn't define who he is or become ALL that he is (you know, like the way people actually are in real life!)

Syd's struggles with sexuality are not the focus here -- he is outed fairly early on in the book and seems more annoyed by it than anything else -- but it does give an added dimension and unexpected layer of nuance to the way he experiences the world. One that is an extremely welcome and long overdue addition to this kind of story. In one of the most heart breaking and uncomfortably true to life moments in the book, we discover that before he really understood how the patron/proxy system worked, he blamed himself and his sexuality for the reasons that he was chosen for beatings and punishment. Syd's journey of coming to terms with this in the dystopian future should strike a nerve with most LGBT readers who dealt with similar feelings growing up in the real world.

This is not light reading, but it's not entirely doom and gloom -- there are plenty of fun and touching moments between the three friends that struck me as being some of the few scenes in YA fiction where the humor seemed genuine and not forced. You can actually imagine these three hanging out and spending time together for reasons other than the fact that the author made them do it. The way they joke around and tease each other sounds real, and even the gay jokes are great. Some of the best moments come from Knox, who is as infuriatingly endearing to the reader as he is to those around him. When he flirts with Syd, you want Syd to punch him in the face, but you also understand why he doesn't, and I caught myself smiling at these scenes. In a world where all three of these people were constantly plugged into a larger network that continuously streamed data and advertisements directly into their brains, it was exciting to watch them learn and grow and discover things about themselves and each other as they go off the grid in the latter half of the novel.

The book keeps up a brisk and steady pace right through to the last page, with an ending that was powerful and emotional without being forced or sententious. Yes, I cried.

My major frustration with the novel is that I wanted more of it. It is one of the few times that I'm actually upset that the publishers showed restraint and didn't force the author to split this into a trilogy or series, because I was wanting to spend a lot more time with these characters. I do hope we see Syd again in the future in some other form, though I like that this is a complete and self-contained story.

At one point Syd, in a moment of frustration, thinks that he wants his friends to be traveling together "as people, not as ideas", and that sums up everything that is right about this book. For a story to juggle so many layers of symbolism and allusions without seeming like awkward and heavy handed allegory takes immense skill on the author's part, and the fact that London manages to do that here while still creating some of the most believable and nuanced young characters I've ever met in fiction is a true accomplishment. I wish this book had been around when I was a kid. I'm proud to display Proxy on my shelf alongside the classics in this beloved genre, because its position there is entirely deserved. Rating: A

August 6, 2016
Actual rating: 3.5

Poor Sydney Carton. He's got a hard Knox life. Yes, I wrote this entire review just so I could work "hard Knox life" into it somehow.

Remember reading The Whipping Boy in grade school? Remember how much you hated the fact that life could be so unfair? Well, get ready to be even more bitter towards life in this YA dystopian version of it.

This has a plot, but I think it doubles as a social commentary and satire about our culture and how it is devolving. It's about consumerism, debt, the unfairness of social classes. Born to a rich family? Awesome. Born into debt? Tough shit. Deal with it. Things are not going to get better, and in any case, it's your fault for being born poor anyway. Seriously, that's how things are in this future. Forget Albert Camus, forget George Orwell; I think I became more depressed reading this book and interpreting its bleak messages than I ever was reading Nineteen Eighty Four. I think the social overtures overshadow the characters, and that's actually a good thing because I found very little to actually like about the characters, which might actually be the message all along.

The future in this book is pretty damn bleak. We hear a lot about social disparity these days, how the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer. I don't know if there are only the two distinct social classes in this book's version of a dystopian future, but we only see things from two points of view, the very rich and the very poor, the Upper City and the Lower City. In the future, the world is controlled by debt, consumerism, targeted advertisements. It is a thinly veiled parody of what the author feels our world is coming to. Contracts, debts, "if contracts couldn't be enforced, the system would collapse. Contractual agreements, they all learned from the first day of school, were all that stood between civilization and a return to the age of chaos. Trying to delete a debt was like trying to destroy the world."

Our behavior is tracked, every purchase goes into a personal database, poor kids have installations into their "biofeed," a system installed within your blood, that sends them ads based on personal behavior and prior purchases. Think Amazon interest-based ads in hyperdrive. Advertising. All. The. Time. Your body is merely a network.

If you are born poor, or an abandoned orphan, tough shit. You are literally born with debt. "The Benevolent Society charged ten years for a 'rescue' from the desert and another three for installing the datastream into your blood. Three more years got tacked on for foster care, and two more just to get into school. That made eighteen altogether. Syd knew that eighteen years of debt well. He had it himself." All Sydney ever wanted is to stay under the radar, work off his debt, and just be an anonymous drone among many. "He didn't like mattering at all. He longed for the carefully constructed anonymity, the world of not mattering to anyone that he'd spent a lifetime building and seen crumble in only one day." Thanks to his Patron, he doesn't even get that much. Welcome to the future!

Sydney is a bit of a martyr; for a guy who's trying to just get by, he takes too much upon himself, and he's more soft-hearted and optimistic than he should have been given his status. I expected a savvy street rat, I got a kid with too much humanity, too much guilt, who blames himself for any misfortune that befalls the people he cares about. Still, I felt so bad for him, and he is such a sad character. Take the first time he was punished for Knox's misdeeds, at the grand old age of five.

"She asked him some question he didn’t understand about credits and debt and that was the first time he heard the words 'proxy' and 'patron'; all he remembered clearly after that was the pain of the shocks she gave him, one, two, three, four, five, like his skin was being burned off from the inside and he cried and cried.
It took him about a year to stop crying when he was punished, and another year to understand that he wasn’t being punished for anything that he did. He came to believe he was being punished simply for being born."

If you are born wealthy, then you are a Patron, with a Proxy to take your punishment for you. The Proxy is a kid with debts to pay, in this case, Sydney Carton is Knox's Proxy. The theory is that the Patron must watch his Proxy being punished, and therefore learn to behave from seeing another's pain on his behalf. Surely, after over 10 years of seeing his poor Proxy suffer from being EMD shocked (similar to Tasered) and punished in various other ways would cure Knox's disobedience and make him into a better, more considerate human being.


Knox is irredeemably unsympathetic. A spoiled, rich kid. A surprisingly brilliant hacker considering he doesn't do much studying besides close scrutiny of girls' anatomy. He does anything he wants, with the full knowledge that his proxy will take his punishments. The way he sees it, it's his prerogative to take advantage of all that's offered him. I think the author tries to make Knox into a somewhat more sympathetic character because he still mourns his mother's death. But no, not at all. All I see throughout the book, and Knox really does not change much, is a clichéd poor-little-rich-boy. His father ignores him for work, so he acts out. According to Knox, nothing is his fault. It was his luck in life to be born wealthy, and it is his privilege to enjoy it. It's Sydney's fault that he's got so much debt (never mind that Sydney got into debt just for being born), so he's got to put up with it, it's just the system, it's just the way things work. Knox has no sympathy for anyone, and honestly, I can't rummage up a bit of love or even like for him, when he tries and fails to feel a little bit of anything.

"'He wanted to tell her yes, now he believed. He wanted to tell her he believed what she believed because maybe then she'd hold his hand, maybe then she’d smile back and remind him who he used to be. But he didn’t believe and he didn't say yes. He just couldn't fake it. Instead, he shrugged. 'I guess it doesn’t matter either way.'"

There are other characters in the book who feel like a parody of today's first-world activist, a wealthy girl who takes on causes and believes overly in her own self-importance, a "Causegirl." None are altogether likeable or memorable. The plot itself is secondary to the social criticism and moral tones, and got to be more than a little ridiculous and completely unbelievable at times. Read it for what it is, a social commentary, and not for the plot.
654 reviews49 followers
August 6, 2013
This is an important book. Usually, when a gay teenage boy asks me for a book recommendation, I'm stuck giving him contemporary fiction or "issue" books if he wants a decent book with a gay character. As much as I adore "Will Grayson, Will Grayson" and "Boy Meets Boy," gay teenage boys aren't that different than straight teenage boys when it comes to reading preferences. They want a book with zombies, explosions, robots, or epic battle scenes. I get it. I like books like that too. But good luck finding an action-packed science fiction or fantasy book written for teens with a gay protagonist. With the exception of Malinda Lo's Huntress, which is a beautiful lesbian rendition of Cinderella, you'd be sore out of luck. And gay teen boys generally don't want to read Cinderella any more than straight boys do.

Proxy is a smart, suspenseful dystopian that nods to Neal Stephenson's "The Diamond Age" and Sid Fleischman's "Whipping Boy." Syd grows up in a society where even children are stuck with years of debt, which they repay by acting as "proxies" to rich children. Every time their "patron" misbehaves, they shoulder the punishment. Whether it be beatings, hard manual labor, or even prison time. Syd is a clever, compassionate boy stuck with two more years of serving a proxy who is constantly getting him pounded into the pavement. Knox is a spoiled brat with a sad past to explain his apathy toward his proxy. The two of them go on an epic journey together. Syd is gay (or what people derisively call "chapter 11"), Knox is not. There is no romance between them. This is a book about friends, and a very good one at that.
Profile Image for Lenore.
596 reviews374 followers
February 4, 2014
This was a disappointment. The basic idea for the book was decent, but the execution was lacking—to put it mildly.

There are various technical issues, like the unnecessary POV shifts, the paper-thin characterisation, the shallow, dull storyline, or the obvious lack of proper content editing—to just name a few.

The story peaks at around 30% and then it unceremoniously deflates. The author thought he was writing an adventure, but all he accomplished was to make the story drag and wander aimlessly.

Also, it was as if he thought it would be cool to write a story by mashing up elements from films like The Matrix, or The Fifth Element, or even Waterworld. And while he was as it, he decided it'd be cooler to make his hero gay. I initially thought Syd's sexuality was simply not central to the plot—there was a clumsy and see-through attempt to make it seem like something would happen between him and his patron, Knox, early on—but this detail ends up adding nothing to the story or to Syd's development as a character.

The ending makes it clear there will be a sequel, but I for one won't be reading it.
Profile Image for Kai Spellmeier.
Author 6 books13.7k followers
April 25, 2021
“Life is too short for perpetual misery.”

A diverse, dystopian, queer and action packed story, with lots of unexpected turns.
In the beginning I had difficulties understanding the world our main character lives in, especially the system and the technical terms. And while I, being the hopeless romantic that I am, could've wished for a little more romance, this novel had a good pace and great writing.

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Profile Image for Thomas.
1,520 reviews8,987 followers
August 28, 2013
4.5 stars

Going along with my idea of book reproduction in my review of Speechless, Proxy would be the child of Uglies by Scott Westerfeld and Legend by Marie Lu. It blends fast-paced action with a well-fleshed futuristic world, complete with characters that are rife with wit and passion.

Knox has never felt consequences before. A Patron born into one of the City's richest families, he has access to the best technology, clothing, and parties. Every time he makes a mistake, his Proxy - Syd, a hard-worker living in the rough equivalent of a slum - gets beaten up or electrocuted. But when Knox takes a joy ride too far and kills someone, Syd is sentenced to death. The two unlikely companions join forces to fight the system that has trapped them for all of their lives.

Proxy has a plot you have to experience for yourself. The premise of an affluent city in which the poor and rich despise one another isn't striking on its own, but when blended with Alex London's extra layers - like how those who are rich find anything natural/organic disgusting - the entire book comes to life. London paces his story in a way that lets his world-building sink in while maintaining the book's overall thrilling nature.

The conflict and tension between the main characters kept me on my toes. Analyzing and eventually coming to understand Syd's tough life and his desire for freedom, as well as Knox's pampered upbringing and the unhealthy relationship with his father, was an all-consuming and all-too-enjoyable process. While the characters may have come off as cutout stereotypes at first their interactions with one another elevated them to a higher level.

I would recommend this one to any searching for a thrilling story with a fascinating setting and believable characters. It has so much potential for a sequel, especially because of how its themes encompass the idea of debt, death, honor, and hatred. I finished it in a day, and I do not doubt that many others will too.

*review cross-posted on my blog, the quiet voice.
Profile Image for Saimi Vasquez.
1,426 reviews67 followers
July 21, 2023
Syd es un proxy, sabe que su vida no le pertenece, por lo menos hasta que pague su deuda en unos pocos años, y asi dejar de recibir los castigos por su "Patron". El problema es que su "Patron" es uno de los jovenes mas locos de ellos, y cada vez que comete una infraccion el que es castigado es Syd, por eso esta decidido a no comprar nada, no quiere endeudarse con mas años con su Patron, solo quiere sobrevivir los proximos años para poder ser feliz y sin deudas.
Pero las cosas nunca son como las esperas, Syd se ve sentenciado a 16 años de trabajos pesados por que su Patron tuvo un accidente y mato a una chica. Asi que ahora Syd tiene que decidir si es capaz de cumplir su condena o escapar de todo y huir de la ciudad para salvar su vida.

Un universo realmente interesante, un mundo futurista donde todos los servicios, comida, estudios los paga una clase alta y si los quiere la clase baja debe pagarlos con sagre, casi que literalmente. La trama como tal, es bastante sencilla, el chico elegido, la chica con ideas revolucionarias, el chico rico con problemas paternales, todos juntos esperando poder llegar al sitio donde el elegido podra cumplir su profecia. Pero la narracion fue bastante dinamica, aunque a veces me perdia con los dialogos o los pensamientos, porque podia cambiar de personaje de un parrafo a otro (cosa que realmente me confunse cuando leo).
Lo que mas me gusto fue el universo, la cantidad de tecnologia y la vision de que todas las enfermedades mortales pueden ser curadas por una "programacion" en la sangre. Por supuesto, el personaje que mas me gusto fue Knox, fue el que senti que maduro mas, que realmente consiguio el sentido de su vida, ademas de Syd, quien nunca penso mas alla de sobrevivir o Marie, que lo unico que queria era liberar a los "esclavos".
En fin, voy seguir la bilogia, esperando saber un poco mas de estos personajes, y del universo despues de cumplida la profecia.
Profile Image for Regan.
457 reviews110k followers
June 9, 2023
Solid book. I really appreciated both the racial diversity and the LGBT elements present in this story! Excited to pick up the next one.
Profile Image for Connor.
693 reviews1,660 followers
September 15, 2016
Wow, I didn't really know what to expect going into this. People recommended it to me when I asked for more LGBT+ reads after Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. And I can say I'm pleasantly surprised. I also read this for #diverseathon , and it ended up being perfect for that. Not only is the main character gay, but he's also a person of color.

Besides all that, I really enjoyed this novel on its own! Syd was super realistic in his thoughts about situations, I thought. He seemed real to me. I really liked learning about the system these characters lived in. The whole Patron and Proxy relationship was - not awesome- but interesting. I liked that there are real consequences for every decision in this book.

It's not perfect. I think there were a couple times when I was confused by the motivation of some characters, but I had a really fun time reading it regardless. I'll definitely be reading the second book in the duology and giving his other books a go.
Profile Image for Kyle.
168 reviews59 followers
July 3, 2016
Alex London’s Proxy creates a fascinating dystopian culture of debt and credit. Syd was an orphan so he owes a debt to society. When his debt is purchased he becomes a Proxy for Knox a wealthy Patron. If Syd needs anything, like school, food, shelter he can turn to his Patron. But that only means more debt. As a Proxy, Syd bears the punishment for anything Knox does. When Knox needs to be punished it’s Syd that gets shocked or forced to perform hard labor while his Patron has to watch.

When sixteen year old Knox steals a car to take a girl on a high speed joyride to the zoo and crashes, things start to go really bad for sixteen year old Syd. Not only does Syd need to get punished for stealing then destroying the car but the girl was killed in the crash. That means sixteen hardcore years in prison for Syd.

That is just the start of the thrill ride. It was really hard to put down once I started. It seems like each chapter provided one more twist, one more secret revealed, one more person that’s out to get Syd. Can Syd beat the system that society as built to hold him down, to keep him in debt? Proxy is well worth the read to find out.

I’ve seen the book compared to The Maze Runner. Personally I enjoyed this novel much more than The Maze Runner. Proxy creates a much more believable story. Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Teal.
608 reviews201 followers
November 23, 2019
Wow, this was bad.

DNF @ 63%. I put off writing a review for weeks in the hope that my anger would die down and I could give this more than 1 star and some rabid ranting. Well, one of those goals was accomplished -- I no longer have the burning need to write a scathing review. This book is simply not worth the effort.

So I'm limiting myself to one (1) rant:

The story alternated cleanly between two POVs until the two main characters met up in person, and then POV changes starting coming randomly in the middle of scenes. I switched from the audiobook to print at that point, thinking maybe the problem would be less obvious that way. But no. And then a 3rd character was added to the mix, so the POV randomly jumped around from sentence-to-sentence between those three people. Yes, multiple POV changes within a single paragraph. Repeatedly. It became impossible to follow the narrative or invest in a character's perspective. When a 4th character joined them, I could not even imagine what a shitpile the story would become with still more random head-hopping, so I bailed out in disgust. It was stupid of me to wait that long, and I regret the hours of my life wasted reading/listening to this amateur-hour production.
Profile Image for Alice.
229 reviews43 followers
March 30, 2018
4.25* Make sure you imagine Syd as black it doesn't tell you until like 30 pages in. Also Syd is gay if you are looking for an lgbt book.

OMG THAT ENDING. The first 200 pages were really amazing. Best book I've read so far over 3 months amazing. The world is so awesome. There are robots and gadgets and hacking.

Then the desert canyon traveling part of the story hit for 100 pages. That part wasn't great. It wasn't terrible just not nearly as cool as when they were in the city. I've seen it a few times in books the traveling in a barren wasteland part always sucks because there's nothing to use as leverage. Things always have to happen to the characters instead of the characters making the situations for themselves.

There were also little things I thought didn't make sense in the story. I mean very little things that are easily ignorable, but those things get solved in the ending. It worked with why Knox's character development was fast. I really wished Knox stayed more evil though. That's the charm of his character. Reading the thoughts of an asshole character is fun.
Profile Image for - ̗̀ DANY  ̖́- (danyreads).
258 reviews92 followers
June 5, 2018
. : ☾⋆ — 2 ★

i think this book is a product of its time.

i’m talking about 2013 YA dystopia. *shudders* oooh, do it again. 2013 YA dystopia. *shudders* oooooooohh. 2013 YA dystopia. 2013 YA dystopia. 2013 YA dystopia. (that’s a lion king reference please laugh)

anyway what i mean is that back in 2013 people weren’t really that hard to please (myself included) and if i’d read it back then i probably would’ve thought it was amazing. and don’t get me wrong, it was cool and fun and action packed and entertaining and whatever you want to call it. but it wasn’t.................. all that.

the writing was okay, but the characters weren’t really relatable at all, not to mention the fact that they were barely even memorable. it took me a really long time (like, maybe 100 or so pages) to distinguish enough differences in knox and syd to actually tell them apart. marie is a completely different story, because as much as i hate to say it since she’s probably the only transcendent female character in the book, she was absolutely useless. strong female character (personality wise), sure, but she didn’t contribute anything to the plot or the storyline. i still don’t understand what her part was in the car accident situation (or why that was even a thing that happened?? it made no sense).

although the book was told in third person, the pov’s jumped back and forth, within the chapter, over several characters. that was kinda confusing and a little hard to keep up with, because sometimes the first half of a sentence was in knox’s pov and the second half in syd’s pov. it’s hard to explain but it was something i’ve never encountered in any other book before.

there was this one scene which i felt was absolutely unnecessary and which actually made me really angry??? it’s explained early on in the book that one of the main characters, syd, is brown. whether he’s black, or latino, or middle eastern, etc, is not specified, though he’s most likely middle eastern due to the nature of some words and languages mentioned. anyway, it’s pretty explicit that he’s a person of color. so syd is about to take a shower after he’s been in a pretty rough situation, and our other main character knox gives him a skin patch, and says, and i quote: “Put this on in the shower. It’ll lighten your skin a little. We don’t want to go through all this just to have you eyeballed by some low-rent security guard.” syd, obviously, doesn’t use the skin patch, and the characters don’t mention it again, which makes me even angrier about the fact that this scene was even included in the book. if syd wasn’t even going to consider using the skin patch, then why the hell was the scene necessary. why did alex london feel the need to shove this racist, problematic ass scene in my face if it wasn’t even going to be relevant a page later. was this scene included just for the sake of increasing the word count?? who knows.

rant over, but that really bothered me beyond belief and i thought i’d include it in my review in case anyone’s triggered by this kind of thing.

i think the only thing this book had going for it and what actually might’ve made it worth it to read, was the world building. man, alex london really knows how to paint a picture in your head. despite the fact that the plot wasn’t really that enthralling, the world building was rich and full. it created a very specific vibe that is exclusive to dystopias alone and i really liked that. it brought back happy memories from reading books like divergent, the maze runner, etc, and fully enjoying them.

i realize this review is a little critical but, what the hell, i’ve become a really hard reader to please and this was only slightly enjoyable and to a certain extent. i won’t be picking up book 2, and this wasn’t a total waste of time, but eh ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Profile Image for Dana.
69 reviews27 followers
June 23, 2013
Ok, so on the one hand, I read this very fast and definitely was interested to see where it was going. However, the farther along I got, the less interested I was.

Proxy is yet another take on the "this is the future and it sucks" theme so prevalent right now. In a nutshell, there's only the very rich and the very poor, so rich "patrons" hire "proxies" to take their punishments for them; in this way proxies can then pay off part of the debt that virtually every poor person is burdened with.

Which brings me to our teen hero, Syd. He's been under contract to his patron, Knox, since they were kids, and unfortunately Knox is a jerk who gets in trouble all the time which leads to copious amounts of corporal punishment for poor Syd, who nevertheless, still has years of debt to pay off. But this time Knox has gone too far, and Syd's about to be shipped off to a labor camp, but through a series of lucky escapes and coincidences, Syd and Knox end up going on the lam.

This is where the book started to lose me and I find I can't write about it without spoilers galore so.

Anyway, plot holes aside, we come to the twist that anyone who's seen Buffy probably already guessed, and while I like the idea in theory, it doesn't have much of an emotional impact because the character development/motivation all around has been lacking.

But in some ways, the most important thing about this book isn't the world-building or the twists and turns; it's that the main character is gay. I found this extremely refreshing, especially because while there's some homophobia throughout, Syd being gay isn't the point of the book. He's the hero, he's the key to changing the world, and he also happens to be gay.

So here's hoping that he'll get a love interest in the sequel, which yes, despite my misgivings, I'll probably read.
Profile Image for Cody Carter.
139 reviews37 followers
March 12, 2017
Oh. My. God.
This book left me weak. I kind of just want to walk outside, in the dark, and lay in the middle of the road...
Its was so perfect. So much action. So much everything. Very little romance. It is like my dream book. I can't even. So much character development in so little pages.
I need help. I'm tearing up writing this just thinking about the ending. Just thinking about how tragic it all is. I literally just finished it and now writing this. Its so fresh. So painful.
I want to meet this author and praise him.
Okay so now done with the ranting of emotions and such...
This book began kind of confusing because of all of the made up technology. But that quickly made sense. Oh the love I have for Syd. His life is complete hell. He is the BEST. Plus he's gay. Double love. Okay and then there is Knox. Omg I hated him so much at the beginning, even towards the middle. He was so selfish and a piece of SH*T basically. But he was so just so. Idk man. Some quality made him very...IDK. Hes just him. Ended up loving him! Oh and another person I don't want to say is so damn awesome! I love that person! Yea i sound so dumb, but I cant say the name. Its a she. She cooh.
Ahh this book gives me so many feels. I just want to cradle it.
The devastating ending. The oh so unpredictable ending.
It was magnificent. Goodnight.
Profile Image for Aaron Hartzler.
Author 5 books426 followers
February 14, 2013
I was up until 2AM finishing this book because there was No. Other. Choice. Alex London has plotted a masterful start to a pulse-pounding series with the deft hand of an expert. He refuses to sacrifice the emotional heart of his characters for cheap thrills, and that makes the breakneck action something more than simply exciting; it makes this nail-biter meaningful . I couldn't believe the final scene, and you won't either. It shocked me, and thrilled me, and left me tweeting the author in the middle of the night, begging him to write faster. My advice? Pre-order this bad boy now, and pray for June to come quickly.
Profile Image for Thibaut Nicodème.
579 reviews136 followers
June 28, 2016
Full review on my blog, the Snark Theater.


Somewhat more thoughtful review: This book is a damn masterpiece of its genre. You know how YA dystopias are generally out of touch with what makes a dystopia work (namely, that the dystopia has to resonate with a social problem of our day) and hinge on the same tired old tropes? Yeah, not here.

It's a borderline deconstruction, in the sense that Madoka Magica deconstructs the magical girl genre.

The world building is great. Its premise is a little cliché—ecological disasters, most of humanity dying off, all that good stuff. The results are amazing, though, as is the execution. This ultra-liberal society we have here is seriously on point. Not just because it works as a criticism of our society, but also because it works as a world people would accept to live in.

The characters are great too, and work on so many levels I'm sure to forget some of them. On one hand, Syd is gay and a person of color, both of which are shown with the proper impact in a racist and homophobic society (which, yeah, I know, that's a YA dystopian trope that I want to see die, but at least if you're going to feature it, do like this book and show the goddamn consequences!).

On the other hand, Knox is a privileged asshat, and he acts and thinks like one. Even the best example I can name of modern YA dystopia—the Hunger Games—lacked that. The Capitol citizens are mostly just ignorant and selfish, waiting to be shown the light and given some time living in poor people's conditions to sympathize with them. That is not how privilege works. Knox is literally brainwashed by society to think unprivileged people want, deserve and like their living conditions. That's much more convincing. Ignorance is not the foundation for a society to thrive upon. This is.

And their relationship is just glorious. Is it romantic? Is it platonic? Who cares! It's true love. That's what it is. Do you need to know if it's the kind of true love that leads to kissing and possibly sex? No! You don't! That's what fanfics are for anyway.

Really, though, for as much as I personally ship them, it's nice to see a friendship between a gay guy and an (allegedly) straight guy that doesn't feature an unrequited crush at some point. Literally all the subtext is initiated by Knox, too, so that helps.

And yeah, there's a third main character (whom I won't name because spoilers), and she's cool and I like her too. And the threesome has a great dynamic together. I think her main problem is that she's too much of a bystander, ultimately? She comes in the story a little later, and she mostly just gives a direction to the other two protagonists. An important role, but I can't seem to relate to her as much.

And the story is amazing too. As you may have noticed from the start of this review, the ending will wreck you emotionally. It's totally worth it.

I just love this book. Deal with it.
Profile Image for Paula Stokes.
Author 14 books1,154 followers
March 12, 2013
I got this from my editor friend after seeing it in the Penguin catalog, but as cool as that flap copy is up there, it only scratches the surface.

There are so many good things to say about PROXY, but most of them are spoilery. I can say this: The story blisters along at the speed of a bullet train as the main characters run from an oppressive system of debtors and creditors. I don't know Alex London and I don't want to compare his work to specific other books because some writers find that offensive, but let's just say the amount of high-stakes action here is in line with some prominent YA trilogies that are becoming major motion pictures.

And yet there's more--a lot of thought-provoking stuff is woven throughout the adrenaline-fueled storyline. And then, just when I thought I'd gotten everything there was to get, London pulled yet another weapon from his storytelling arsenal and an action-packed, philosophical, dystopian book became something even greater--something that made me FEEL ALL THE FEELS.

This has something for everyone. You don't want to miss it.
Profile Image for karlé.
168 reviews27 followers
October 3, 2014
Oh God. This book.

I’m staring at the last page, waiting for a coherent thought on how I feel about this book. And sadly, it would not come. Because I can’t think. I just feel. I keep feeling all these emotions inside of me and I just want to hug myself to sleep.

I never knew I could relate to this book so much (that’s why I literally spent a week to slowly read it). It is definitely, as Marie Lu said it, “OFF-THE-CHARTS-AMAZING.”

Alex London has that talent like Collins, Lu, Roth, Dashner and so many more, where you find yourself not just reading the book, you’re inside of it. The world London created sparked so many ‘What Ifs’ in me, because they are so close to the facts of our current world.

If you haven’t read this yet, go do. Even though it has gay characters in it, it’s not an M/M book. Don’t worry, you’ll still be straight afterwards. More or less. *wink*


Profile Image for Emma.
2,994 reviews354 followers
March 2, 2018
Syd is an orphan. He doesn't know anything about his past. He doesn't want to think about his present. The only thing that keeps Syd going is that his debt is almost paid. Two more years and Syd's time as a proxy will be done. No more punishments for crimes committed by his patron. No more being seen as less than everything in the eyes of the system. Two more years and Syd will finally be free.

Knox doesn't think much about his past. Or his future. He doesn't have to when he can focus on the present and all of the indulgences and luxuries it offers. Not to mention the opportunities to create mayhem and catch a cheap thrill. Sure, sometimes Knox gets caught. But then his proxy is the one punished. So, really, who cares?

Then things go too far.

Drawn together in the wake of a horrible wrong, Syd and Knox have to run from the authorities as they try to understand the secrets beneath the patron/proxy infrastructure. In a world where debts can be lethal, these unlikely allies will have to work together to try and tear down the system if they want to survive in Proxy (2013) by Alex London.

Proxy is a thrill-a-minute adventure set in a future where everything has a price. London alternates between Knox and Syd's points of view throughout for a complete picture of the world as well as both characters. The world building here is top-notch to create a disturbingly possible and dangerous future.

Filled with as many explosions as it is with philosophical discussions, Proxy is an exciting read that also asks hard questions about obligations and the nature of determinism. The evolving dynamic between Syd and Knox is also fascinating to follow.*

Suffice to say, Proxy is a fun, surprising read. Even better, it is filled with meaningfully diverse characters readers will want to cheer for.

*Syd is also gay which isn't a big deal in and of itself EXCEPT that his being gay is not in anyway the focus of the story--it's just a part of his character. Unfortunately it's still rare for characters to go against normative ideas (white, straight, etc.) in stories that focus on other things (like amazing stories of action and suspense). Proxy is obviously one exception and I hope to see more such characters in the future because society needs them. And if they're anything like Syd they're going to be awesome.

Possible Pairings: Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi, Graceling by Kristin Cashore, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Legend by Marie Lu, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, Black City by Elizabeth Richards, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

You can also read my exclusive interview with Alex on the blog starting September 12.

You can find this review and more on my blog Miss Print
Profile Image for goldn_rule.
24 reviews4 followers
July 28, 2013
It’s been weeks since I finished the book and I have been putting off the task of writing a review for a while a now. The reason is simple; I don’t have much to write about. Each time I try to put to words what I thought of the book, I manage to conjure a bit fat nothing.

The story revolves around Knox, the quintessential rich kid, and Syd, the impoverished proxy. When Knox breaks the rules, Syd takes the punishment. Knox and Syd are polar opposites; Patron and proxy, prince and pauper, sinner and saint. They were never supposed to meet, until one fateful night when Syd realizes his life is not his to live until he takes matters into his own hands.

While the Goodreads blurb alludes to a humdinger story; the reading experience was anything but. There were engaging pieces of Alex London’s dystopian society, but these were few and far between. For the most part, Proxy was as unremarkable as it was uninteresting. The characters were just as mundane dare I say. Knox is an annoying and repugnant excuse of a human being, while Syd is the unwitting hero who lacks the charm and gambit of a dystopian protagonist.

Proxy didn’t leave that much of an impression, except for the homosexual theme that somehow manages to add some depth into the story. It was however nothing but a half-hearted, even mediocre attempt to introduce homosexuality into the mainstream YA genre.

Proxy is just one of those books you completely forget about after a while. I don’t regret reading it, but I don’t see myself reading any more books in the series either.
Profile Image for Lee.
266 reviews20 followers
January 22, 2021
4.25 stars.

I tried reading this book once before, a little over a year ago. I didn't get more than 10 pages in, partly because I was reading on a train and finding it difficult to block out my surroundings, but also because it just didn't captivate me.

Well...It certainly captivated me this time around! This dystopian world that Alex London introduces you to is fascinating. He's created an entire system, and imagined it well. It's scary in how true it could be.

Another thing that Proxy does well is diversity with race, gender, and sexuality. There's a good variety of representation, and it always makes me happy when a book a) has representation and b) doesn't make a huge deal about it. People are just trying to get shit done, and race, gender, and sexuality has nothing to do with them actually getting said shit done!

The book's feels like it's just the right length too, and whilst I can see how it could be a satisfying stand-alone, I'm excited to pick up Guardian soon. I want to know what happens after that ending.

Proxy also completes my most recent TBR-jar challenge , which was "To read a book written by a "new to you" author."
Profile Image for TL .
1,878 reviews53 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
July 24, 2016
DNF at 50% (I think )

Started out well but I just couldn't anymore. The concept was different but too many mental flags for me *shrugs *

Not terrible but just not for me I guess
Profile Image for Wren .
382 reviews93 followers
April 25, 2017
4.5 stars

This review can also be found at http://fortheloveofbooksreviews.blogs...

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.
Profile Image for Paul Lunger.
1,020 reviews6 followers
February 15, 2013
It is quite possible that with "Proxy", Alex London may have in fact written one of the best books of this year & something that should it reach the big screen could become a blockbuster industry for Hollywood. The concept is very simple - the wealthy (known as Patrons) have everything & anything they do wrong is paid for by the poor (the Proxy) who lives revolve around massive debt & punishment. The proxies also have no idea who their patrons are & also are to never meet. It is this system which works to keep order along w/ other factions that are out there primarily the Rebooters who want to end the proxy system. The way they do that however is looking for a savior to return.

The main characters in this book are Knox who is the rich kid patron who kills a friend in a car accident & who in the course of his nearly dying in that accident is forced to watch his proxy Syd suffer massive amounts of punishment including what amounts to an insurmountable indentured servitude for that crime. It is Syd's world that we see quite a bit of early in the Valve & with his friend Egan we understand the world of the have-nots. When Syd decides he wants nothing more of his sentence & by chance runs into Knox & from there worlds collide as Syd eventually learns of his destiny & Knox learns what his father who runs the company behind the proxy system is really capable of.

London's story is beyond believable with realistic characters & is very reminiscent of "The Hunger Games" in his portrayal of a fight for survival & the right to succeed. Having a gay youth as a main character is also a plus & the action & story literally will draw you in from page 1 through the end. This is a book which has everything from action to romance to betrayal to an ending that leaves you wanting more. "Proxy" very easily will be a bestseller in my estimation with it's release scheduled for June 2013.
Profile Image for Rachel.
148 reviews39 followers
June 22, 2015
Exact rating: 4.5

This book started off rather confusing. Especially with its high tech settings, it took me quite some time to settle and inject myself into the world. It got better and better after getting used to the settings and characters. This has to be one of the books that will literally make you laugh out loud, thus making this one of the funniest book I've ever read. There were plot twists throughout the book and I spoiled myself for everyone of them because my hands wouldn't stay still and kept flipping to the back. The end got me tearing up a little and the feels were just all over the place. I wouldn't read the sequel now, at least not now. I'd just leave it for a little while because I don't want to get into that proxy and patron issue again.

I liked how romance wasn't involved in the story unlike any other dystopian story. It was told in the third person's POV. I'm okay with homosexual characters and I actually find him cute. Yup, there, I said it. I was wrong about Egan and the characters turned out to be better than okay. It was quite good, actually.

It was fast-phased and very, very little drama so it's good to kill time without getting frustrated. Grab it when you're bored :) But don't give up just yet after the confusing start. READ IT!

Challenge completed: A book with one-word title
Profile Image for Sam.
504 reviews87 followers
April 29, 2020
Proxy by Alex London is a smart, fast-paced dystopian thrill ride that doesn’t let up. In it, we follow two boys, Sydney and Knox. Syd is a proxy, which means he takes the punishments of the one he is indebted to. That patron would be Knox, a boy who lives a life of privilege and luxury. One day, Knox ends up killing someone in an accident, and Syd is forced to reap the consequences. But Syd is tired of the system, tired of living a life he didn’t choose for himself. So he makes a daring escape, and the story goes from there.

I firstly wanted to commend the world-building in this. At the beginning, it’s kind of a lot to take in, with many small details being tossed at you all at once. But once you get into it, it isn’t overwhelming. The divide between the rich and poor was well explored and developed, and the contrast between the two sides was done excellently, especially since our two protagonists come from opposite sides.

Speaking of protagonists, I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only is Syd gay (something I knew going in), he is also a person of colour. This was quite refreshing to see, since I personally find that many dystopians don’t have this kind of representation. Beyond just this representation, Syd was also a character I could understand and sympathize with easily. He didn’t choose to be a proxy, and feels as though his life isn’t his own. It was also interesting to see how he reacted to things. Syd wants to do things for himself, but can’t help helping others, even though he really owes them nothing.

Knox took awhile for me to warm up to, since he’s lived a sheltered, privileged life, and can’t seem to understand the struggles Syd goes through and how his actions have negatively affected Syd. Even though I couldn’t entirely sympathize with him, I understood his character and why he was the way he was. So overall, I think Alex London did a great job of crafting these two boys.

My one small issue is with the side characters. I feel as though we could have used a bit more development of them, particularly our antagonists who seemed to be mindlessly evil and corrupt.

Something that I think was a bold and fascinating choice was that Alex London would switch between characters heads in the same chapters, without warning. One paragraph could be from Syd’s perspective and the next from Knox’s. Understandably, this could be worrying, as it might cause confusion. But for me, I didn’t mind it. I personally found it seamless, and natural.

The plot, as I said earlier, is fast-paced and thrilling. Full of chase sequences and action scenes, there’s hardly a moment that isn’t go go go. But, that doesn’t take away from the quieter, introspective moments.

The ending of this book was shocking and emotional. It made me tear up for sure! I wasn’t expecting it to happen like that at all, so now I’m excited to see how Guardian goes.

It’s a shame this one didn’t get hyped up back in the dystopian days of YA, because it’s on the higher end of the scale in my opinion. If you’re looking for an action-packed dystopian with good representation, look no further than this book.
21 reviews
February 24, 2013
Move over Hunger Games. Sit down Divergent. Step aside Matched. Here comes PROXY locked and loaded and ready to take you on the ride of your life.

"Terror? Delight? Did it matter?" Knox is racing through the streets at 162 miles an hour planning his next move on Marie, the highly attractive and seemingly available girl in the seat next to him. But the one hand move to her thigh changes his life forever. Marie is dead. Knox is alive and Knox's proxy, Sydney Carton, is about to pay the price for Knox's mistake.

In this world the very rich of the Upper City buy the debt of the less fortunate of The Valve and are paid back with the convenience of using the unfortunates as proxies for their sins. When young Knox broke a priceless tablet from Mesopotamia, it was Syd his proxy who felt the sting of the EMD stick. When the car crashes and Knox is near death, it is Syd who is called for a blood transfusion and it is Syd who is tortured and sentenced to sixteen years in the Old Sterling Work Colony. Yet Knox and Syd will never meet. Or will they?

Tensely wound and action-packed the worlds of Syd, Knox and Marie become surgically connected through their choices. Syd is on the run from the sentence for hard labor and through the cold-hearted actions of Knox's father, the two Patrons, Marie and Knox who have lived a life of lux, find themselves joining him in a course of events that will leave you gasping.

This is the battle of two colliding worlds, the extreme power and wealth of the patrons and their dominance of the unfortunates who inhabit the toxic, violent, desperate world of the proxies known as The Valve.

The intricately designed world of The Valve, the Upper City and the desert lands are the setting for the vivid and thought-provoking action.

What sets this book apart are the riveting story line, the evolving characters who begin in lowly places and rise to mind-bending heights, the parallels between our world and theirs, and above all a thread of heroism which can be claimed by anyone among us should we choose it.

Is there such a thing as destiny? What are you willing to give up to change the world?

Reluctant readers no more.

This one will leave you stunned and wanting more.
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