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Review: The Registry by Shannon Stoker

The Registry
by Shannon Stoker

After America nearly collapsed, a Registry was created to restore stability to the country. Girls are registered as brides, raised to be pretty, well-mannered and dependent - everything a husband could want. Boys become soldiers; after they fulfill their time of service in America’s military, they settle into civilian careers and purchase a wife by bidding through the registry. Pretty Mia Morissey has been raised by her parents as the ideal investment, and it looks like their work has paid off: at the start of her auction year, Mia has been appraised as the most expensive bride since the Registry began. But an urgent warning from her sister has alerted Mia that there is freedom outside the system, and when she realizes that her future husband is a cruel, calculating man she yearns to escape. With the help of her oldest friend and one of the young men who work her father’s land, she manages to get away, but it soon becomes clear that her husband Grant will stop at nothing – and spare no one - to get her back.

The idea of a Registry where everyone is ranked and valued certainly seems threatening. In Mia’s world, it’s horrible, as we learn early on when she takes an intelligence test and can’t do basic math or recognize elements from the periodic table. Since husbands generally don’t want “smart” wives, girls like Mia are intentionally undereducated. It only gets worse, of course – when her sister escapes from her husband, Mia learns that marriage has been nothing but beatings and abuse for her. When her sister later dies – clearly murdered by her husband – there are no consequences for his actions. He bought her; she was his property to do as she pleased with. What an awful, awful world.

But this world isn’t all that believable. The technology remains more or less the same as it is today, making it hard for me to believe that the infrastructure of the Registry is supportable. The story’s only about 150 years into the future, and America apparently had a major collapse (but despite Mia’s best efforts, she’s unable to uncover the reasons behind it) but shouldn’t technology have advanced a bit more than this?

But of course, what really matters is the young adult love triangle. At the beginning, it seemed like we were going to avoid this. Although there’s an obvious spark between Mia and Andrew, the man she forces to help her escape her new husband, her friend and fellow escapee Whitney is thankfully uninterested in their new companion. But midway through the novel, Whitney exits the story and is replaced by a handsome, fresh-faced youth named Carter. Suddenly, Whitney’s making out with one guy while struggling to express her feelings for the other guy and BAM! We’re stuck in a triangle and we can’t get out of it. Carter’s late hour addition to the story makes the romance feel all the more forced. I was really disappointed by it.

The ending was pretty unsatisfying, because it’s so obviously leading up to a sequel. It isn’t quite a cliffhanger, because the story could conceivably end here and be more or less resolved. But there are enough unresolved threads and some major unanswered questions that it’s clear this is meant to be the first book in a series – probably a trilogy, since that’s the young adult standard now.

3 out of 5 stars

To read more about The Registry, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.

Peeking into the archives...today in:
2012: As Simple As Snow by Gregory Galloway
2011: Fashionista Piranha will be on hiatus for a while…
2010: 29: A Novel by Adena Halpern
2009: An Edible History of Humanity by Tom Standage
2008: The Lace Reader by Bruinoia Barry


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