A few months ago I read Proxy after it was recommended to me by my fellow fangirl and blogging buddy Nath over at One Woman’s Opinions. I was stunned. Blown away. Emotionally ravaged and pretty much all round thrilled by the gorgeousness of story telling perfection. Proxy was just… beautiful. *Sigh*
Fair warning: This discussion contains Proxy spoilers so if you haven’t read it already.. which, WHY HAVENT YOU READ IT??? be warned. And if you missed my subtle suggestion to go buy Proxy immediately or you’re still on the fence you can check out my thoughts on it here.
Now y’all KNOW I love a series but I confess, I wasn’t sure how one writes a sequel to something as complete as Proxy. In truth, the story felt told. Sure, there were a few unanswered questions in my nit-picky little head and I definitely wanted Syd to have a real first kiss! But after closing the book and emerging from my state of stunned silence I experienced a rare sense of satisfaction. The symmetry of Knox’s sacrifice just left me all weak in the knees and singing songs of love and adoration to London and the gods of storytelling and whatnot. So it’s safe to say I approached Guardian with equal amounts trepidation and excitement.
If Proxy was a story of brotherhood, sacrifice and debt exploration; Guardian, was at it’s core, a love story seasoned with lessons in forgiveness and the dangers of ideology. I don’t know if that’s what London set out to write but that’s what I experienced. And for me, that was more than ok. It still made me think, ask questions and feel things. That being said, a good love story never hurts…
Lawd have mercy on my soul, cuz ima bout to get all swoony here.
Part of what kept me up ALL NIGHT reading (and zombified the next day) was watching the cautious and confusing relationship develop between Liam and Syd. The way they grew into each other in this story felt so authentic and, lets be honest completely freaking adorable that it had me literally, physically engaged. Seriously, at one point my husband caught me perched up on the back of my reading chair with my hand pressed to my heart making swoony noises at the book and he was all ‘Are you CRYING?’ and I was all ‘NO you heartless toad I’m SIGHING. There’s a difference. Now go back to painting your mini’s and leave me alone to drown in this ocean of feelings.‘ (We are pretty much both crazy..it’s kinda why our marriage works.)
Anyway, Syd and Liam’s love story had all the sweetness and painful awkwardness of any first love. Well, any post-apocolyptic, humanity is on the precipice of total decimation first love…cuz you know you’ve got to be willing to let some things go in those circumstances. So your boyfriend is a ruthless assassin?? Hmm. Well thats probably a pretty useful apocalypse skill!
Speaking of LIAM….
About 3 minutes after I met Liam he was shipped off to my personal island of book boyfriends. Oh yes, there’s an island. (they are OBVIOUSLY all aged up to at LEAST 27 on my island…that part of the magic and yes…. I’m aware Liam is not swinging in my direction but unrealisitc book boyfriends are equal opportunity when it comes to unrequited love.) What can I say? I guess I’m a sucker for love and undying devotion swathed in badassery. There was also that soul crushing bit of loneliness that makes people like me shout things like “I want to know your story Liam!!!” at their books (really, I’m a very interactive reader).
While there were moments in the beginning when I was uncomfortable with Liam’s zelous obsession with Syd or more specifically Yovel. Liam’s journey from devoted protector (dare I say… Guardian?) to valued partner was at the heart of what I loved about this book. His character arc was beautiful and if we dig into our collective psyche pretty darn relatable (minus the assassin thing). Truth is, we live in a world that makes it outrageously easy to idolize your favorite author/actor/musician/artist/stupid hot soccer player….you get my point… And while celebrating art and achievement (and even obsessing a bit) is wonderful it’s easy to create some sort of mythical deity out of those we admire.
Throughout the course of Guardian Liam, who is (not so secretly) a Yovel disciple, must face the reality of Syd, who is by no means happy playing savior. While Syd remains the strong and subtly wise character we (and everyone else) fell for in Proxy he is also a little broken and, understandably, riddled with guilt. (KNOXXXXX!! What? I’m not over it. And neither is Syd.) As a result, Liam was forced to dissect his feelings for Syd and separate the mythology from the person. Turns out that on the other side of obsession were the seeds of a lovely honest relationship. Something about learning to love and value someone even when they disappoint you seems like an ideal life lesson. Though perhaps more importantly Liam, begins to learn how to value himself . *Dies of happiness*
So the other character that just filled my soul with joy was Marie. I’ll admit, Marie was the loose end for me in Proxy. Perhaps because I really saw myself in her (and not in the most flattering way). Marie had all the right intentions and none of the wisdom needed to step back and assess her crusade. It can be painful to realize that righteous indignation with a dollop of crusading has a way of turning you into exactly the type of close minded, frustrating, ideologist you thought you were fighting against. Marie is the epitome of that character. Throughout Proxy and well into Guardian she is fighting a war against injustice while failing to see the cracks it is leaving in her own humanity. Fortunately, this time Marie is faced with a set of circumstances so personal she simply can’t ignore the flaws in her beliefs. Thus she is set down a path of self discovery that ultimately leads to growth, forgiveness and hopefully a bit of grace. I guess there’s hope for us soap-boxy types after all! Whew! And can I get an AMEN?!
Basically there was a lot of growth and forgiveness to go around in this book. Syd had to face his future, Liam his past and Marie the reality of the present. Not to mention the hard learned lesson that there are no easy fixes. Of course there was also plenty of action and adventure to balance out all this very important thinky stuff. Oh, and one heck of a frightening villain as my sister put it: “He’s the bad guy you know you’ve met. The one who lives in your nightmares.” Umm yes. Also, the med student in me was pretty thrilled with the biogenetic consequences of turning off the machine. Yay, science!
So about the end: At first I was all WHAT??!!! Wait, NO! THERE HAS TO BE MORE. And then I took a breath or two, uncurled myself from my new perch on the counter and thought about it for a bit. The more I thought, the more I realized that I was perfectly happy to create my own (sickeningly wonderful, happily ever-after where absolutely no one dies) version of this story’s after life in my head. Sometimes it’s nice when an artist sets their work free into the world and allows the audience to take it into their own hearts and imagine the ending that they need to hear.
That being said, a nice little novella where we finally hear Liam’s story wouldn’t go unappreciated.
So all in all, the Proxy/Guardian deuology turned out to be a pretty fantastic reading experience. For me it’s impossible not to love a book that launched a two day discussion with my mom and sis over morning coffee in the mountains of NC and even lead to a bit of soul searching (see Marie paragraph). I will certainly be curious to read more from London in the future! (Actually, I might have purchased one of his middle grade books; We are not Eaten by Yaks because how can you NOT buy a book with that title?)
So, have you read Proxy, Guardian or We are not Eaten by Yacks yet? If so I’d love, love, love to chat!!! Also, when you read do you find yourself mysteriously propelled all over the house and carrying on one way conversations with your books… or is that just me?
So I didn’t actually intend to post this over pride weekend it just happened that way. BUT while we’re at it: Here’s are a two other pretty awesome books with LGBT characters I’ve read recently & shall discuss shortly.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz: Holy gorgeousness batman!! This. Book. Was. Stunning. Go read it. The end. (Actually, I accidentally ended up with 3 copies so I’ll be doing a giveaway shortly. You should enter! :))
Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith: Ummmmmmm. Shit. This is pretty much one of the most insane apocolypse books I’ve ever read. It was phenomenal! I can’t even tell you how much I enjoyed it! And yes, there really were giant Grasshopper/Praying Mantis creatures in it. Score!