Syd is a proxy. He is an orphan, so the government took care of him as a child but also placed him in debt for their services. He must serve as a proxy - a whipping boy - for a wealthy patron. His patron Knox has never seen Syd in person, but he is forced to watch each time Syd is punished for something Knox has done. Syd is trying to keep under the radar and just survive until his debt is paid, but then Knox does something that causes Syd to be brutally beaten, branded, and sentenced to another lifetime's worth of years in a prison. Syd can't imagine surviving this, so he attempts an escape that brings consequences no one could have imagined.
I really, really liked this book. First, Syd is gay, but this book is not about his coming out. Second, the Allegiant-esque ending was well done. Also, the dystopian world with a The Whipping Boy-style of punishment is interesting. I loved the world-building and enjoyed seeing both Syd's and Knox's perspectives on the various situations they found themselves in. I was surprised this book did not win a Stonewall award this year. This book would be very popular in my library if we had a copy.
Recommended for: teens, fans of Divergent,
Red Flags: drug/alcohol use, lots of violence
Overall Rating: 5/5 stars