SciFi Book Review: The Registry

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.

SciFi Book Review: Monument 14

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

After boarding their buses for school one morning, Dean and his younger brother Alex are suddenly caught in a violent hail storm. Fourteen children, from elementary students to high school, are forced to seek refuge in a nearby superstore. While their world falls apart around them as an incredible earthquake leads to an even more dangerous chemical spill.

Dean is an average teen, not popular but smart and well-read. He has the stereotypical crush on the most popular, pretty girl who, of course, is dating the popular jock. But the kid’s world in thrown upside down when forced to take on unbelievable responsibility in the face of an apocalyptic scenario. Laybourne’s story of survival during this horrific apocalypse is both frightening yet full of hope. Monument 14 is not nearly as dark and depressing as Lord of the Flies or Michael Grant’s Gone series. Her characters show a wide range of believable choices from bravery and selflessness to extreme fear and cowardice. As more terrible things keep happening around them, the suspense builds to a heat-pounding, cliffhanger ending. This debut is a fast-paced, exciting story with plenty of drama and adventure that both mature teens and adults will enjoy.

Sci-Fi – Fiction Book Review: Pure

Pure by Julianna Baggott

In the years following the apocalypse, Pressia lives with her grandfather in a former barbershop. Pressia dreams of life before, because her current reality is filled with horrors. During the Detonations, everyone outside of the Dome was either killed or left horribly scarred and mutated, fused with whatever was nearby. Pressia has reached the age where she is required to join the military, but she decides to face the unknown and flee instead. Meanwhile, inside the Dome, people are whole and trained to be the best they can be. Yet Partridge is not happy. He constantly thinks of his mother who was left outside the Dome during the Detonations. And when Partridge receives a clue that his mother may still be alive, he’ll risk the shelter of the Dome for the dangers of the Outside.

Pressia is a sympathetic girl who, despite her creepy disfigurement of a doll fused to her hand, quickly becomes captivating. Partridge is naïve, but it’s easy to get caught up in his story as well. The massive worldbuilding of this dystopian scene is both disturbing and imaginative. The setting is dark and intense. Full of adventure, suspense, mystery, and a bit of romance – Pure is a much darker young adult, dystopia than others. With an incredibly climactic and dramatic escalation of startling events, this original and gritty story has a satisfying ending that will leave readers wanting more.

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