The Registry by Shannon Stoker

Welcome to a safe and secure new world, where beauty is bought and sold, and freedom is the ultimate crime. The Registry saved the country from collapse, but stability has come at a price. In this patriotic new America, girls are raised to be brides, sold at auction to the highest bidder. Boys are raised to be soldiers, trained to fight and never question orders.
Nearly eighteen, beautiful Mia Morrissey excitedly awaits the beginning of her auction year.

But a warning from her married older sister raises dangerous questions. Now, instead of going up on the block, Mia is going to escape to Mexico—and the promise of freedom.

All Mia wants is to control her own destiny—a brave and daring choice that will transform her into an enemy of the state, pursued by powerful government agents, ruthless bounty hunters, and a cunning man determined to own her . . . a man who will stop at nothing to get her back.

The premise sounded intriguing and different. And it might have worked better for me if it had been some alternate reality America. Instead, it’s a completely unbelievable future where America goes back to the dark ages – treating women as property. And boys are thrown away as orphans until they can prove themselves as soldiers. But setting aside disbelief, the dystopian world is dark and exciting. Mia may not be well educated, but she’s smart enough to listen to her sister’s warning and flee from a life of servitude. While Mia’s friend is very educated – enough to rank low on the registry, but is flighty and isn’t streetwise. The two are joined by an unwilling farmhand who is initially annoyed by the girls and their naivety, but still has a good heart and helps them cross America to their eventual destination in Mexico.

The Registry is a suspenseful dystopian adventure. The feminist issues add an emotional response that otherwise wouldn’t exist because of the lack of depth of the main characters. With plenty of teen angst, romance, and an evil, sociopathic antagonist – this debut is exciting and engaging, despite its flaws.