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.