Review of Shannon Stoker’s The Registry

The Registry – Shannon Stoker

In the future, men outnumber women, and so when a woman turns 18, they go on The Reigstry. Men can view their profiles, and make a bid for their hand in marriage. Top bidder gets the woman. Mia Morrissey has been groomed from birth to be the perfect bride: pretty, graceful, and obedient. But when her older sister unexpectedly comes home, trying to escape her husband, Mia’s perfect world is shaken. Now, instead of marrying a rich man, Mia wants to escape to Mexico, and she can’t do it alone.

The premise of the book had me really wanting to like it. I like dystopian fiction, and this seemed to be right up my alley. Turns out the book didn’t live up to the idea. Like, at all. And that disappointed me.
The biggest disappointment to me were the characters. They’re all cartoons, or they have a personality switch. Mia starts the book pretty and dumb, waiting to get married. Then once she decides she doesn’t want to follow the system, she attempts to be clever. She does everything wrong at dinner the first night she’s meeting a potential suitor, expecting it to put him off her. Doesn’t work. Within 50 pages of the novel starting (of a 300 page novel) she’s run away, roping a smarter friend into coming along. She has no plan, but suddenly she has these insights and thoughts that a silly girl who solve basic math problems shouldn’t have. She’s more confident, she knows what she wants. It all comes out of nowhere.
Whitney is Mia’s best friend, and we get a lot of informed attributes about her. Her father wanted her to know things, so she could survive in case she didn’t get a husband, so she learned a lof things. However, we never see any of her knowledge. Once they run away, Whitney becomes a whiny, cranky, shallow idiot. She loses her mind when the third member of their party, Andrew, has to resort to drastic measures, and she never gets over it. It’s like Mia and Whitney had a personality swap once they run away.
Grant, the first man interested in Mia, is a cartoon. He’s not a human being, he’s a mustache twirling, tantrum throwing, clothes obsessed cartoon character. He decides Mia’s screwing up dinner is cute, but he wants to break the spirit out of her. He pays her bride price and forces her father to sell her, and once he has control, he treats everyone else trying to recover Mia like they’re morons, or minions beneath his notice. He’s obsessed with coordinating his outfits, which only detracts from the novel. He does cartoon villain things, and acts like a maniac. He’s not a real character.
The plot of the novel doesn’t cover things we should probably know, and it’s frustrating. The Registry is really glossed over, despite being the defining part of the book. We know Mia answers some basic questions (Can you cook? Etc) gets her photos taken, and fails a 50 question test. From Mia’s conversations with Whitney, who supposedly knows things, we can assume the better you do on that test, the lower your price is. In a world where parents want the best price for their daughters, you’d think at least the fathers would spread that knowledge amongst themselves, so they could encourage their daughters to do poorly for a better price.
Also, it takes most of the book to find out why The Registry came into being, and all we’re given is bits and pieces. At the end, we get an answer, but it’s not very complete. For a book titled “The Registry” it’s only marginally tied to it.
Ultimately, there isn’t enough good to save this book. There are a few interesting scenes, like where we find out what life is like for women who don’t have husbands, and a train station scene, but it’s not enough to save the book. Poor characterization and a lack of details really killed it for me.