Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Bumped by Megan McCafferty
Published by Balzar & Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins
Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley

Sixteen-year-old twins Melody and Harmony live in a world in which, due to a virus, girls become infertile at or around age eighteen, which has caused married couples to hire teen girls as surrogates for their children. Teen girls are the most important, prized members of society – baby bumps are worn proudly and the media is chock-full of messages about how important it is for girls to “bump”. Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and only now have reunited. Harmony has spent her entire life in Goodside, a religious community, preparing to become a wife and a mother, and when she meets Melody she comes up with a plan to convince Melody that getting pregnant for a profit is sinful. But everything changes for both girls when Melody is matched with the most famous boy in the world to bump with.

I finished reading Bumped over a month ago, and I’m still not quite sure how to feel about it. The subject matter is serious and relevant in today’s world – we see teens happily getting pregnant more and more frequently it seems (16 and Pregnant, anyone?) and McCafferty definitely played off that phenomenon in the book. What would happen if ONLY teens could get pregnant, at what point would it become the cool thing to do and at what point would people actually pay teen girls for their babies? I know that I enjoyed the time I spent reading this novel, but I have to admit that I didn’t think it was a perfect read.

For one thing, I felt that the tone of Bumped was entirely too light for the subject matter. I mean, teens being paid to have sex and make babies is serious stuff. Girls being drugged so they don’t get emotionally attached to their newborns – also serious stuff. But the tone was just very on-the-surface, so extremely light throughout much of the book, inappropriately so, at least to me.

I also didn’t like how the reader is just dropped into this world, with little to no explanation about what’s going on. I still find myself very confused as to what type of virus infected everybody, where it came from, etc. And it took me much too long to translate their slang and understand the meaning of a lot of what the characters were saying.

While there were some aspects of the book I clearly wasn’t a fan of, there were other aspects of the novel I really liked. For one thing, the plot was engaging and held my interest throughout. I found myself invested in the world McCafferty created and was anxious to find out how things would turn out for these characters. In terms of the concept, I found it really interesting and, as I said before, timely, and I thought McCafferty was very creative in how she handled it.

The characters also shined, in my opinion. Melody and Harmony are two very different people and McCafferty clearly wrote them as such. They grew up in such different environments and their attitudes and beliefs are so opposite from one another’s. Watching them form a relationship, a sisterly bond, after being separated all those years was fun and it their journey towards that relationship felt authentic.

I have to admit that, despite my misgivings, Bumped had me on the edge of my seat until the very end and I will be picking up the sequel when it comes out. While the book won’t make my favorites list anytime soon, the concept is very clever and the execution was acceptable – to the point where I enjoyed the ride but I have all the hope in the world that the second book will be even better. Definitely pick this book up if you’re looking for a fun dystopia with engaging characters and a plot that doesn’t easily let you go.

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12 thoughts on “Bumped by Megan McCafferty

  1. After reading your review, I am on the fence about this one. I really seem to like YA dystopias, but the lack of information on the virus and the off-hand manner in which the story was told might or might not bug me. Sometimes I think for these books to really work for me I need to have really solid worldbuilding. But then again, your mention of how much this book captivated you has me intrigued. I am going to have to think on this one. Thanks for the excellent and thoughtful review!

    1. The bonus of this book is that it’s a quick read. So if you aren’t loving it, at least you know you aren’t making a huge commitment. Like I said, there were things about it I liked, and overall I wanted to keep reading, but the lack of world-building was a tough pill to swallow. Also the slang … oh how the slang bothered me.

  2. Good characters or not, I find the premise of this book distasteful. I know that these types of books (manipulation of people’s lives from a teen perspective) is all the rage right now, but please. Through my 13 year old, I see the shows she watches and it damn near glorifies pregnancy in young girls. My daughter asks alot of questions and her takeaways really scare me. She doesn’t see the sleepless nights, the inability to raise a child financially, being treated like a leper by friends, etc., she reads something else into it completely. Dangerous ground here.

    1. I agree with you 100%. I think what McCafferty was attempting to do was illustrate how dangerous and damaging this teen pregnancy “trend” really can be, by taking it to the absolute extreme. I’ve watched 16 and Pregnant just a few times, but it never fails to shock me how casual these teen girls are about the fact that they are going to have a child to raise – HELLO this serious. I am 27 years old and don’t feel ready to commit to a child, and it’s clear that teens can’t understand the gravity of that situation. I don’t know if *Bumped* succeeds in this but I think I get what McCafferty was trying to do here.

  3. I have heard so much about this book. Sort of like The Handmaid’s Tale for the next generation. I haven’t read it yet but I do plan to.

  4. My wife and I read your post and know we would struggle with this book, very much in stark contrast to many values we hold. Not one for our reading list. Glad you posted the review and we really appreciate your insights.

  5. I really need to make time to read this one. At prom last weekend, where I was chaperoning, one of my students from last year came in with her boyfriend and was very, very pregnant. I felt a mixture of emotions as I watched her show off her engagement ring, walking around looking pretty uncomfortable in her dress and high heels. Most of the other students were really nice, but you could see them giving her sidelong glances. I wish I knew exactly what they were thinking, but hope that it’s not jealousy.

    I’m pretty curious about this book though. It sounds a little like the detachment of the characters in Brave New World. Any similarities, would you say? Thanks for the review!

    1. Oh wow, that really brings the book close to home. I definitely think 16 and Pregnant have glorified teen pregnancy and it’s clear that teenagers’ brains can’t quite comprehend the reality of what it is to have an actual baby and be responsible for him/her for the rest of a person’s life.

      I have never read *Brave New World* so I can’t compare. It’s on my TBR list, though! LOL

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