June 24, 2011

Book Review: Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5

(Author Website) (Amazon Page)

Summary (from Amazon):
When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society. Girls sport fake baby bumps and the school cafeteria stocks folic-acid-infused food.

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and have never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Up

to now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend, Zen, who is way too short for the job.

Harmony has spent her whole life in Goodside, a religious community, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to convince Melody that pregging for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.

When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common.

From New York Times bestselling author Megan McCafferty comes a strikingly original look at friendship, love, and sisterhood—in a future that is eerily believable.
My Thoughts:

I will admit right now though that I have never read a Megan McCafferty novel before. Yes, I must have something wrong with me since this novel made me laugh. Set in a future where anyone over the age of 18 becomes inexplicably infertile from a Virus with no cure. Unlike Wither, McCafferty's dystopia is written as a comedy rather then a drama. However the effects associated with only having underage young adults with the ability to create and carry a child are addressed in a more subtle manner. Melody and Harmony are sixteen and are already being labeled as "too old" to have children. Society's biological clock is ticking loudly for them, and their parents and peers are not letting them forget that.

Harmony arrives on Melody's doorstep with the initial purpose of ministering to her and getting Harmony to join her in Goodside, a religious and isolated part of the modern world which reads fairly similarly to an Amish community. Harmony's only reading material is her Bible, and her entire day is focused on work, prayer, and her purposed fiancee whom she should marry and conceive children with as immediately as possible. Melody's life is filled with academics, sports, and doing anything and everything to ensure the best college and future from her adoptive parents. This also includes being the first to sign a pregg-for-profit contract in her high school. Melody is all ready to conceive a baby, birth it, and give it up as Surrogette.

I found Bumped funny. Both Harmony and Melody felt a bit flat. It isn't because the plot doesn't have plausibility. The consequences of having only teenagers birth children has turned having children into a commercialized business venture rather then a miracle of life. Melody's adoptive parents treat her more as a commodity then a daughter. She is precious to them, but it only seems to come from how much money they can make off of her. Even though Harmony is from a much more religious background she is also being treated as a commodity rather then a person. The whole idea of giving birth has gone so far that thirteen-year-olds are portrayed as wearing "Fun Bumps" and drooling over highly-saught-after teenage boys, like Jondoe, who travels the world and "bumps" with teenage girls. All of which is more then a little disturbing. Not to forget the MASsex parties held by teenagers were girls "bump" with a lot of boy to ensure they all get pregnant at the same time.

However, the way the novel is written makes it frustrating to read. The characters were slow to realizing that their worlds and paths need change, and by the time the more disturbing parts of this society were realized by Melody and Harmony it was the last leg of the book. I realized then that a satisfying conclusion wasn't going to happen,  and the end was, of course, a cliff-hanger. I didn't think this book really needed that. I don't see where else the author has to go. She didn't build up many loose-ends that would require more then one novel. Perhaps if the story had been handled better I would say "go for it". But, I really have to wonder if a sequel  was necessary.

I would honestly say that if you're looking for a comedic dystopian read this book. It was funny. It did speak a lot in terms of social commentary and commercialism.

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