All Rights Reserved: A Review

Speth Jime is about to turn fifteen. She is equipped with the requisite band and implants so the moment her birthday arrives she will be charged for every movement or word that falls under copyright. Every nod or scream will cost her 0.99/sec. Saying “sorry” is ten dollars and a legal admission of guilt.

Even with the most minimal words and gestures, Speth is never getting out of debt. Not with her family being sued for an illegal music download dating back five generations. All Speth can really hope for is to avoid being taken away by Debt Services the way her parents were to pollinate crops with a brush and eyedropper in Carolina until their debts are paid.

One thing that might help is Speth’s Last Day speech which she can use to win over sponsors who might offer product discounts or other lucrative perks that could lead to employment. Speth is ready to make that speech when she watches her friend Beecher jump off a bridge rather than work to pay off his family’s crippling debt.

She can’t imagine ignoring Beecher’s suicide to make a speech. But she also can’t imagine how to break her contract without also putting her family into even more debt. That is until Speth finds a loophole: she only has to recite her speech if she actually speaks. Instead Speth takes a vow of silence even avoiding copyrighted gestures.

What Speth doesn’t know is that when she stops speaking she’ll help start a revolution in All Rights Reserved (2017) by Gregory Scott Katsoulis.

All Rights Reserved is Katsoulis’s debut novel and the start of a new series.

Speth’s first person narration brings her world to terrifying life from the extremely litigious culture and the power of copyright (Speth’s haircut is in the public domain, but only if it stays messy enough to be different from a pixie cut) to the 3D printed housing units that didn’t print quite right in the poorer sections of town.

Because of Speth’s decision to stop speaking, a lot of the book takes place in her head as she keeps herself at a remove from family and strangers trying to understand why she refuses to speak. As Speth’s actions gain momentum she also finds herself at the center of an unlikely rebellion as others begin to support her and even follow her lead. This one decision sets Speth on a course to learn dangerous truths about the rot at the center of her world and maybe even figure out how to stop it.

All Rights Reserved is a fast-paced story with action on every page and incredibly intricate world building. A worthy read-a-like for fans of dystopian classics like Uglies and The Hunger Games.

I love the world building here. It’s very absurd and will appeal to fans of the hunger games and uglies. But it’s also almost entirely focused on debt (much like one segment of where futures end) and it just stressed me the hell out.

Possible Pairings: Landscape With Invisible Hand by M. T. Anderson, Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Proxy by Alex London, Where Futures End by Parker Peeveyhouse, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

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Proxy: A Review

Proxy by Alex LondonSyd 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, The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson, The Diabolic by S. J. Kincaid, All Rights Reserved by Gregory Scott Katsoulis, Legend by Marie Lu, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, Black City by Elizabeth Richards, Vicious by V. E. Schwab, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

You can also read my exclusive interview with Alex here on the blog starting tomorrow September 10.