Friday, April 1, 2011

Book Review: Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Pages: 336
Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Dystopia
Pub. Date: April 26, 2011
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents are forced to pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society.  Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and had never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Until 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 religious Goodside, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to bring Melody back to Goodside and convince her 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."

Imagine a world where a virus spreads and if you are over eighteen years old, you become infertile.  Older people who want to be parents pay tons of money for young girls to have their babies and even more money if you are an attractive option DNA-wise.  Melody and Harmony, sixteen year old twins who were separated at birth, find each other later in life when Harmony shows up at Melody's doorstep.  However, both girls couldn't be more different.  Harmony is super religious and grew up in Goodside where they frown upon people like Melody who have babies for money or a "conception" contract.  Ultimately, Harmony wants Melody to come back to Goodside with her and "save" her from a life of sin, whereas Melody wants a good match to "bump" with. It seems she gets her wish when they match her with the most sought out candidate, Johndoe.  However, both twins are hiding secrets that will destroy both their plans.  Megan McCafferty's  YA debut, Bumped, is an interesting take on a dystopia that was undeniably entertaining, but unfortunately made me cringe.

Let me preface this review with saying that I consider myself to be liberal and have an open mind, but there were many aspects of this book that I found tough to swallow.  First, this book had its own language. Seriously. I wish McCafferty included a glossary.  There's this whole futuristic preggo-speak that I had a hard time adjusting to. Once I got past that, I found myself enjoying McCafferty's trademark quirky and funny style, although Harmony and Melody are no Jessica Darling.  I also struggled with this society's focus on being pregnant and glorifying the baby bump. Oh, please. 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom already makes me want to vomit, so listening to the inane chatter from Melody and her preggo friends made me want smash my head into a wall. But just like the train wreck that is 16 and Pregnant, I found myself quickly reading though the novel to find out what happens. I couldn't peel myself away from the drama.

The characters of Harmony and Melody couldn't be more different.  Although I felt they were both brainwashed, I felt most interested in Melody's situation, because of her relationship to Zen.  Zen is her best friend, who happens to be my favorite character.  She had to deny her attraction to him, because he isn't a good candidate to "bump" with as he is too short (which apparently isn't ideal); plus, she already has a conception contract. He was an interesting character though and I specifically liked his subplot.  Unfortunately, I felt like everyone else was so crazy that I couldn't relate to them.

As a teacher, I must say that this is DEFINITELY not a book I'd put anywhere near my classroom bookshelf.  Let me explain-- McCafferty is too in your face about sex.  For example, she referred to the cheerleaders having massive orgies, sex toys, hymens, postpartum hemorrhaging, ovulation, and tons of other sexual topics that I certainly wouldn't want to discuss with my students, because I felt it was presented in an over-the-top kind of way. Do I think older and more mature high school students might find this entertaining? Yes. Would I lend them the ARC? No way.  

On a positive note, this book did make me think.  What if society was forced to have sixteen year olds pregnant in order for our society to continue? Yikes! That is one scary world that I don't want to live in, but I feel there is worth to the topic that McCafferty examines in Bumped. There is a good message here. Currently, our society is obsessed with teenage pregnancy, so perhaps Bumped will serve as a warning.  All in all, Bumped just wasn't for me, but don't let my opinion sway you as there were plenty of other really good reviews out there.

So, with that said, if you enjoy 16 and Pregnant and all the crazy drama that comes with it, then you will find Bumped entertaining, just like I did. If you find that show morally repugnant and selfish, then skip this one.  I'm going to be honest---when it comes to dystopias, I'd rather live in Divergent, Delirium or even Wither and when it comes to Megan McCafferty, give me my beloved Jessica straight up with a side order of Marcus Flutie.

*Pre-order Bumped
*Megan McCafferty talks about Bumped


  1. Fantastic review! I'm sorry to hear that this one wasn't to your liking. I have a feeling I wouldn't enjoy it either. The main characters sound too annoying for me. When I read the premise, I thought this book might be like Wither but I guess not. Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts.

    I haven't read any of Megan McCafferty's books. I may have to try the Jessica Darling books some time.

  2. Nice review Christina! I had a lot of trouble swallowing this world as well, though I think we we're supposed to be horrified at the casual nature of sex and how it was viewed in this society. It definitely had me blinking stupidly at the page sometimes going "really?". Like you though, I couldn't put it down, I had to see it through and see what was going to happen!

  3. I have had this book on my to review list but then I started seeing what other people were saying about it and now I'm a little scared. The reactions you had sound like I would have the exact same feelings and I'm not sure if I should put myself through that. Shows like Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant make me SO MAD!!!

  4. I'm with the Jennys. This doesn't sound like something I would enjoy at all. Thanks for the warning and review.

  5. I read the first page of Bumped and I noticed all the slang(so I guess it's through the whole thing). I put it down and decided I would come back to it later. For some reason this book scares me a bit.

  6. Great review. I am disappointed to hear that you didn't like it; this is a book that I was really looking forward to. However, based on your thoughts, I know this is a book that I would not enjoy. I would probably be too infuriated with the main characters. :)

    Thanks for your honesty!

  7. I am with you, I would not like a world where 16 year olds were placed in a situation where getting pregnant was encouraged and a money making venture to boot. I would also not include this in my classroom as I grimaced at the language. I may just skip this one since I do like bring my books to my students. Thanks for such a well-written and informative review.

  8. I've heard a lot of mixed reviews on this one. Thanks for your thoughts on it. Going to see if it's available in the library system...that way if I don't care for it I won't have wasted my $.

  9. As a classroom teacher an blogger, I'm glad I read your review before getting this book. I'm doing a dystopian book club right now with a group of students, and was thinking about adding this one when it came out, but was questioning the appropriateness of it a little bit - you just answered my question. I'm sure it has a thoughtful message, so I may read it on my own, but it won't be one to add to the classroom library. Thanks!

  10. After seeing your comment in the Top Ten Tuesday post, I had to see what you had to say on this one. Wow...quite the review! I must say, I figured the book was about a pregnancy but not the whole story! Serves me right for making presumptions from the cover. Sounds interesting concept wise but yeah, even I don't really like the "in your face" sex books. Sorry, give me demure any day. Funny you mentioned Wither, you beat me to the punch with that one. Takes a sorta similiar issue but without all the verbal graphics. Great job...thanks for sharing!

  11. Stopping by late to say what a fantastic review, clearly setting out the things that didn't work for you. I have this one, and will have to read it, but I will bear your thoughts in mind as I do read it.


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