Shannon Stoker’s debut novel, The Registry, portrays a dystopian future with a new twist I’ve never before seen, which is saying something considering how much I seek out and read this genre.
Main character Mia was raised in a privileged and sheltered world, never questioning the fact that women were auctioned off online as trophies to be possessed, until the day that her older sister returned and opened her eyes in a catastrophic manner. Mia’s best friend, Whitney, lived a life that was much simpler, but that allowed her to receive a little more education than most women, yet she still did not question the system. Andrew was abandoned by his parents, as were most boys, to make his own way in a rough and brutal world until the age of 18, when he would serve his mandatory enlistment in the military. Grant was able to succeed in the military to the point of solidifying his future career, which provided him with the massive fortune to buy any bride of his choice from the registry, and he turned his sights toward the beautiful Mia.
The story was packed with fast-paced action from beginning to end. It’s a definite page-turner that engulfs the reader from the first scene. 20 pages from the end of the book, I was still so on edge that I couldn’t imagine it wrapping up with a satisfying conclusion. I’m glad to report that it did provide a nicely rounded closure to the immediate adventure, while still opening the door for more to come.
Corrina turned and tried to run up the stairs. Mia peered out. She wanted to help her sister, but she froze. William ran up after her and grabbed Corrina’s ankle, and she fell. The two sisters were face-to-face. Just for a moment. Corrina reached out and grabbed Mia’s hand.
“My closet. Look. I thought it was a joke but it’s all true,” Corrina whispered to Mia.
I was entranced with the concept of this dystopian world where women were sold as property and men also had little freedom or control over their lives, and I appreciated the gripping action and the characters’ stories. My main criticism about the plot was that it involved a bit too much melodramatic teenage romance for my taste, but clearly this does appeal to many readers of young adult fiction. Though the details behind the dystopian future were hazy, I believe that was intentional. It left me wanting to know more about how the female population was so decimated and how the vast majority of Americans came to accept these new rules that impose such restrictions on personal freedom. These are questions the main character herself asks, and since this is the first book in the series, I believe more light will be shed on the topic in later books.
Mia’s intended fiancé and the villain of the story, Grant, was so utterly evil. I would have liked to see more background about how he got that way. Even horrific deeds are often driven by belief systems that cause the evil-doer to believe he or she is doing the right thing. This was a topic that was broached in my recent interview with the author, and she did promise that the second book in the trilogy promises to unveil more about what makes Grant tick. Fortunately, the other characters were very well developed, particularly the supporting characters who risked their own safety to help others escape the system. One of the most interesting aspects of this book was the fact that this almost totalitarian world churned out some people who were utterly sadistic, while others risked their own lives to help complete strangers.
I look forward to seeing how the rest of the series unfolds, and I will be keeping an eye on the work of this promising new author as her writing career progresses. I had the pleasure of meeting with Shannon Stoker yesterday. Please keep an eye out for my upcoming interview, which will be posted soon.