Book Review

Book Review of The Registry

The Registry

The Registry by Shannon Stoker

"Freedom is the Ultimate Crime".  In The Registry's future version of America, girls are carefully sheltered and kept ignorant as they are raised to be auctioned off as brides. The more beautiful and less educated fetch the highest prices while the unwanted end up wed to the government working in jobs that keep them repressed and so overworked that there is no energy left to question the way things are.  Marriage is considered a patriotic duty.

Conversations between the sexes is forbidden unless a man pays the Registry fee to court a wife. Women don't go to school, don't use computers, don't really leave their sheltered lives until they are handed over to a husband like property bought and paid for. Boys are unwanted children as they don't grow up to be sold. A beautiful daughter will fetch a high price and set parents up for a comfortable retirement while boys are just a waste of time and considered a bad investment. They are sent off as small children to work various jobs until they are old enough to enter the military and start earning money to buy their own wife. I loved the bit of world building. It's the kind of dystopian environment I love these kinds of books for.

In The Registry, the main character Mia doesn't question her life. She primps and prepares eagerly for the day she'll be married off. Her father brags that she is going to fetch the highest value in the entire history of the registry. One day though, while her parents are away, her sister appears, bruised and terrified. "It's not like what they tell you. I needed to warn you, to show you something." Mia's pretty and sheltered life begins to unravel as she starts to learn about the real world for the first time.

I don't want to spoil the rest of the story so I'll stop here. The remainder and bulk of the book centers around Mia's escape while her new, sadistic husband tracks her down. The Registry is action packed with a pretty quick moving past and barrels on to a cliffhanger that kept me wanting to read the next installment.

I have to admit that The Registry has a number of flaws.  There were many things Mia did that didn't make any sense in the context of her upbringing and sheltered life.  She drives a car successfully, if a bit awkwardly  for the first time, somehow manages to use a computer without anyone teaching her, and runs into the right people at the right time. There are so many things she manages to do despite her lack of education and her total cultured ignorance.  Because of this, the entire story was less believable. There is also an "insta-romance" that was frankly annoying and really out of character considering Mia's life. For a girl who didn't even talk to or touch boys her entire life, she sure drops everything that has been ingrained in her since birth very quickly. I don't think the author really understands indoctrination. It's NOT that easy to disregard. I felt a great deal of potential was wasted with all the teeny-bopper junk thrown in that marred this otherwise interesting book. I also felt a bit let down when some of the explanations for how the U.S. got the way it was portrayed in the novel. It's so completely lame as to be laughable. It starts out with, "Woman had rights; they were equals. They were taking over control. Some of the old men didn't like that. They unleashed some disease…." and then the book goes on explaining what happened and how it back-fired and then how the auctioning of women came into being. Really? The author would have been better off leaving the entire thing as a mystery instead of macerating it with such stupidity.

Mia is also sometimes a shallow, wooden, predictable and yet oddly likeable character. During her escape she remarks that she "never thought her big escape would be so boring." I'm sorry, but this doesn't match the situation. Someone going through the type of escape she was experiencing would be terrified and anxious. It was just too unrealistic with a variety of situations like something written to thrill a 13 year old who has never left home for more than a weekend.  One of the boys in the novel is also about as shallow as a puddle. And yet…I didn't care. LOL. I STILL enjoyed it, which is saying something for the skill of the writer or the world building or something. It's almost embarrassing to admit it. ;-)

Another thing I didn't like is the political correctness sprinkled here and there like the gay couple in one section of the book. Of course the entire agenda of the book appears to be something like "girl power -fight the oppression of women - women are actually awesome and can save themselves, etc.". This  is kind of amusing since Mia ends up relying on males to "rescue" her…

The Registry is supposed to be a new entry into the new adult category of books.  New adult is a recently spawned genre of book that's supposed to be a bit edgier and appeal to a slightly older audience (18-25) than Y.A. (young adult) books. which are mainly marketed to teens (even though they have a surprisingly large adult following). Despite The Registry being touted as a "new adult" book, I didn't notice any difference from the Y.A. category. In fact, I would venture to say it was miscategorized and would fall on the lower end of the Y.A. age spectrum except for a few areas where some really sadistic type stuff is throw in via Mia's husband as he hunts her down. It has every hallmark of a Y.A. novel, including the ubiquitous 3 way triangle romance thrown in. It had a great deal of wasted potential and yet it was still an enjoyable adventure. I'd rate it PG-13 for kissing/making out and some violence. If you are a conservative Christian family, you'll probably want your teens to steer clear of this one. If you are an adult or Y.A. audience interested in dystopians, you'll find it an interesting mix of bubble-gum, dystopian and adventure.

The Registry is a great vacation read for when you want to indulge in the dystopian genre but don't want anything too heavy or deep. As an adult reader of Y.A. novels, I'm giving it a reluctant and embarrassed thumbs up. ;-)

*I recieved a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

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