I LOVE Alex London’s YA dystopian PROXY–it’s one of my favorites and deals with oppression in a fast-moving, emotional and satisfying story–so I’m happy to have him here today to talk about his next book GUARDIAN and invite you to enter his giveaway! If you haven’t read PROXY yet, I suggest you get yourself a copy, and then go read GUARDIAN. (smiling) They make good #WeNeedDiverseBooks reads! PROXY and GUARDIAN have characters of color and LGBT, and are great reads. Take it away, Alex. 🙂
What I wanted to explore with the oppressive systems in PROXY was how the most insidious forms of oppression are often the ones that pass themselves off as freedom. In PROXY’s world, the market gives the illusion of freedom. The powerful think that it’s a person’s choice to go into debt and if they don’t want to pay for what they can’t afford, then that’s their problem. And the powerless in many cased buy into that system because they have to in order to survive, to participate in society in any way and because the other options–making deals with criminals, eking out survival at the fringes of civilization–are pretty horrible options.
The Patrons are just as much trapped by this system as the Proxies, although they get the better end of the deal. Knox could no more drop out of being a patron than Syd can drop out of being a Proxy. He could, of course, be less of a self-centered jerk, but that’s his journey.
So in Proxy, the system is oppression masking itself as the absolute freedom of an unregulated market. It is, essentially, the fantasy of present day neoliberal economics. It’s Ayn Rand’s market ideology taken to extremes.
In GUARDIAN, that system is reversed. It’s a nightmare of collectivism, the kind of economy the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia tried to create.
Essentially, if there was a coherent philosophy behind these books–and I’m not saying there is!–it would be that any system can be become oppressive when it puts its ideological purity above the humans who make it up.
The stories are, at their cores, about real people, real teenagers, asserting their own right to exist with all their contradictions, needs, and desires in the face of merciless ideologies. In the end though, I really just tried to write a gripping tale. The ideas are there, but my loyalty is always going to be to the story.
Thank you, Alex. Read on for chapter one of GUARDIAN, the giveaway, and more about GUARDIAN and Alex London.
GUARDIAN (Proxy, #2) by Alex London
Release Date: May 29, 2014
Hardcover, 352 pages
Genre: YA / Dystopian / LGBT
The pulse-pounding sequel to Proxy! Inspired by The Whipping Boy and Feed, this adrenaline-fueled thriller will appeal to fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent.
In the new world led by the Rebooters, former Proxy Syd is the figurehead of the Revolution, beloved by some and hated by others. Liam, a seventeen-year-old Rebooter, is Syd’s bodyguard and must protect him with his life. But armed Machinists aren’t the only danger.
People are falling ill—their veins show through their skin, they find it hard to speak, and sores erupt all over their bodies. Guardians, the violent enforcers of the old system, are hit first, and the government does nothing to help. The old elites fall next, and in the face of an indifferent government, Syd decides it’s up to him to find a cure . . . and what he discovers leaves him stunned.
This heart-stopping thriller is packed with action, adventure, and heroics. Guardian will leave you breathless until the final page.
A fast-paced, thrill-ride of novel full of non-stop action, heart-hammering suspense and true friendship—just as moving as it is exhilarating. Fans of Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider series, James Dashner’s Maze Runner, Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking series, and Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy will be swept away by this story.
Alex London writes books for adults (One Day The Soldiers Came: Voices of Children in War), children (Dog Tagsseries; 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.
Chapter One – GUARDIAN by Alex London
At night, they disposed of the bodies. There was no ceremony, no ritual, no remembrance.
“They’re human,” some argued.
“They were human,” said others. “Now they’re meat.”
“We have to study the infection,” said the doctor.
“We have to contain it,” said the counselor and gave her orders. “Burn the bodies.”
A work detail was tasked with the burning. One by one, in the dead of night, green uniforms with white masks hauled corpses to the pile. The corpses were webbed with black veins, their entire network of blood vessels visible through the pale skin. Dried blood obscured their faces and each had a single hole in the temple by the eyes, where the killing bolt went in. They were put down like livestock, burned like sacrifices.
As the bodies crackled, the doctor watched the flames, her face half in shadow, half dancing in firelight. “I believe there is a cure for this,” she said.
The counselor, standing beside her, nodded, but did not turn to look her way. “Your cure is worse than the disease.”
“You believe that?”
“It’s the truth. Your way is treason.”
“You’re in denial,” the doctor said. “This is going to get worse if we don’t stop it.”
“It’s a new world, Doctor,” the counselor replied. “We can’t turn back the clock.”
“Even to save people’s lives?”
“These”—the counselor gestured at the bodies—“are not people.”
“If it spreads?”
“Is it spreading?”
The doctor watched the young members of the work detail tossing the bodies on the pyre. They moved with the assurance of youth, the kind of attitude that allowed them to stare infection and death in the face and believe it would never touch them. “I don’t know.”
“It is your job to know.”
“I can hardly understand it. The blood turns against the body. Itching, burning. Then, expulsion. Half of them bleed out.”
“And the other half?”
The doctor clenched her jaw. “They haven’t bled out yet.”
“They are in pain?”
“They can’t communicate, but we have to restrain them to keep them from scratching their skin off with their fingernails.” The doctor sighed. “So, yes, they are in pain.”
“Put them out of their misery,” the counselor ordered.
“But, we can still learn—”
“Those are the orders.” The counselor walked away, two green uniforms trailing her into the jungle. The doctor took off her white smock, pulled the blue gloves from her hands with a loud synthetic snap, and stood before the flames.
She watched her latest failed experiments turn to smoke and ash in the bonfire, every bit of blood boiled away, with all the information it might have contained.
She had ideas, dangerous to share; but if she didn’t find a way, she feared, this sickness would go further than any of them could imagine. She would record a message in case she failed. She hoped that someone would still be alive to receive it.
Sneak Peek Chapters of GUARDIAN
You can read the short story PUNISHMENT, the PROXY prequel on Wattpad for free right now! Meet Syd, Knox, and Liam (from Guardian) at 15…