Author: Megan McCafferty
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (April 26, 2011)
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.
My favorite thing about Bumped was the concept. In the not-too-distant future, a virus has destroyed fertility in adults, so the wombs of teen girls ignite bidding wars, getting pregnant is encouraged and glamorized, contraception of any kind is forbidden. Even though it's squeegy, I could actually see this occurring, burdoning young fertile ones to give their all for their country, for the world. Unfortunately, the concept is the only thing the story had going for it, while there are so many possibilities and nuances in that scenario that are never explored. I don't understand how books that are all concept and no substance are all the rage. As with Wake, this novel is fairly popular and well-received, but I just don't get it.
Bumped starts off very telly, with alternating, talky viewpoints that bounce between twin sisters, Melody, the sardonic, cold one, and Harmony, the hyper-religious one, as they introduce us to their dystopian world and contrasting ideologies.
Separated at birth, they're acquainting for the first time. Harmony is ecstatic about finding her sister, and Melody is beyond annoyed at her presence. After 20 or thirty pages, you finally get some scenes with dialogue, but everything is still kept sparse with very little description and hardly any sensory impressions that it makes it difficult to SEE or experience this world. The faintest strokes are drawn on every page for two unlikeable, thinly drawn characters. One can see how their different environments have shaped their dispositions, but knowing that doesn't help make them relatable. You never get to really sink into their shoes, feel what they feel and identify. At least I didn't. I didn't feel angry, hurt, sad, gleeful, just blah.
In addition to sketchy characters, Bumped also had no plot. For Seriously! It's just a window into this teen-preggo world. And the problem with a book without a plot is it has no hook, climax or stakes. It didn't go far, have a purpose or build to anything substantial. The characters did have decisions to make in the end, and they both softened up somewhat about five chapters from the end, but it was way too late to feel vested.
The most likeable character in the book is Zen. As with the story Wake, I liked the random male friend the most. If these MC's didn't have weird names, they'd be totally forgotten, like, tomorrow, and I have photographic memory.
Melody, groomed to be the prefect rental space, is under contract to "bump" with a stud, and not totally thrilled about her obligation. In contrast, Harmony is not only determined to do have a baby rightly through marriage, while enshrined in veils, gloves, long dresses, and more man-made traditions than scriptural ones, she hopes to convert her sister to do the same. Even though Harmony is the pushy one, at least she's sweet in the beginning, so I softened to her first, but they were both extremely obnoxious within their sturdy mindsets. I think if they'd been given many more layers and the story more complexity, scope and structure, it would've been a more enjoyable read. I also liked seeing a religious character in a book, but she was taken so far over the top into cultish territory that it made her passion just as flawed as her distortions.
Bumped did have a great concept, and it will definitely stir up plenty of conversation on ethics, it just never lived up to its potential.
~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.