"Guardian" is the second book in the "Proxy" series by Alex London. London manages quite a feat with this sequel -- readers won't feel it necessary to reread the first book in order to understand the second. It begins months after the ending of the first book, and London includes a summary of the last book without making it seem like a summary.
Syd, the protagonist and hero of the people, knows a dirty secret. He's not really the hero. His friend Knox sacrificed himself to free the people from the machines that ran their lives, enslaving some and enriching others at the expense of the poor. Syd was one of the poor, and Knox was one of the rich.
In this book, Syd realizes that the new government, the Reconciliation, is just as corrupt and violent as the former one. The book is filled with thoughts about government and the worth of the individual. The former Guardians, or enforcers, are now mindless, speechless zombie-like people who are killed without remorse by the new enforcers, the Purifiers. Regarding their killing, the officials respond to Syd when he complains about the murders, '"Can livestock be murdered?... can feral cats be murdered?"'
The book is filled with violence but also with lots of emotion and thoughtful argument. Interestingly, Syd is gay. His bodyguard, Liam, becomes a possible love interest. The relationship is treated subtly and beautifully, and there is no sex at all, but there are descriptions about love and feelings that transcend gender. Syd's best friend is a girl, Marie, whose parents were former wealthy business owners. Through her intervention (she has become a Purifier), her parents are living on a "re-education" farm.
When the disease that befell the Guardians begins to spread to everyone else, Syd and his friends try to find the cure. So the guy who was partially responsible for overthrowing the original government is now thinking, ironically, about how to overthrow the new one.
"Guardian" is filled with non-stop action and non-stop emotion. Readers will enjoy the roller-coaster ride, including a former classmate turned sadist and an eight-year-old child who loves to kill. The ending is perfect -- for just like real life, we don't know what the next chapter, or day, will bring.
This two-book series is a great choice for high school reading although adults will like the story also. It's a great choice for reluctant readers as the action starts on the first page and doesn't let up until the very last page.
Please note: This review is based on the advance reader's copy provided by the publisher, Philomel, for review purposes.
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