The Registry by Shannon Stoker

Title: The Registry
Author: Shannon Stoker
Release Date: June 11, 2013
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Source: Edelweiss DRC
Genre(s): YA Fiction, YA Science Fiction (sorta), YA Romance (sorta), YA Dystopia, possibly New Adult Fiction, Dystopian Future, Arraigned Marriage

Rating:  ★★★☆☆ for the world building, ★★☆☆☆ for the execution
Review Spoilers: Low
GoodReads | Amazon

All right, so, this is the first book I’ve ever given a split review for here on Nerdophiles. I might think that I should on some other books, but this one truly deserves it. When I first heard about the Registry, I was actually pretty interested in it. I have no idea why. I’m a sucker for girl marriage shit. After how much I liked the Selection (I still need to read the second book in the series) I’m drawn to others in a similar vein. I was disappointed by the second book in the Matched series, but I had hope that the last book will redeem it. I had hoped the Registry would be a great new addition to the general genre.

And it sort of was.

I think that the world building the author tried to do was really great. In the Registry, daughters are valued above all else. After a cataclysmic event following one of America’s great wars (the background of which could have used some work), the female population deteriorated drastically. Women became a comodity and the Registry was established to match men with the very limited number of women. America went on to fight wars, enforce a mandatory male draft, and find other outlets for its excess of men. But ultimately, the Registry became a means of securing companionship for those who could pay the most. Male children were abandoned to the state, where they went unloved, uneducated, and were encouraged to live as menial day workers from the age of thirteen until they joined the military at eighteen and afterward were free to make their own way in the world. Only daughters were seen as worth the money to raise – they were a solid investment.

Most of that actually sounds like you could do a lot with it. I liked the prospect – even if it is a bit unrealistic. I can see a lot of the inspiration for the story coming from all the doomsday predictions about China with its every shrinking female population. Unfortunately, I just didn’t really get into the whole execution of the book.

The beginning actually starts out pretty good. You’re introduced to the main character, Mia Morrissey, who is the daughter of a wealthy land owner. She’s absolutely gorgeous and the last of four daughters. She’s worth a fortune and her entire life she – like all girls – have been raised to look forward to being a wife, having daughters of her own, and having a husband to please. Unfortunately, it’s all an illusion. Her sister comes home one day after running away from her husband after he beat her and threw out their male child. And within a week she’s dead – either by his hand or by suicide, though Mia feels he murdered her. The whole illusion of the Registry and perfect husbands is gone and Mia turns from the obedient, perfect daughter to a rebellious teenager trying to find a way out. Except there really isn’t any way out.

Enlisting her friend Whitney, a servant girl who is far too smart for her own good, who will spend the rest of her adult life not as a wife, but as a government slave, they blackmail a boy named Andrew, who wants nothing more to just do his service and finally be able to make a life for himself. She ruins basically everyone’s lives by deciding to run away. She is pursued by her soon-to-be-husband Grant Marsden, a villianous man who is an absolute psychopath with no reason for it explained at all. I think that’s one of the greatest downfalls of this series. No one gets much character development in the end. The book switches from the point of view of Mia, Andrew, and Grant. But for whatever reason they are all just very plain, ordinary characters. Mia’s transformation is bland and cookie cutter. Andrew’s own shift, from waiting to do his service and doing what’s right to apparently falling for Mia (or something) isn’t really explained at all. And Grant just runs around killing people and torturing people for no real reason at all. Or, if he has one, we never know about it. He’s just evil, because he’s a man basically.

I don’t know. I just really liked the idea behind this book. And I felt pretty disappointed in the way it turned out.

That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a bad book. It will be a great book for teenagers, who want something quick and exciting to read. You don’t have to put a lot of effort into getting through this one. (Well, unless you get too disappointed and have to quit reading it.) It’s not something I would buy, but something I would have no regrets checking out from the local library. I might pass on the sequel, too, which comes out next year. I don’t know yet. We’ll just have to wait and see.

So, basically, the concept behind this book gets a ‘good’ and the book itself is just ‘okay.’

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