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I Belong

Review: Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Title: Bumped

Author: Megan McCafferty

Genre: YA Dystopia

Series: Bumped (Book 1)

Publication Date: April 26, 2011

Format: Hardcover, 323 Pages

ISBN-10: 0061962740 (Harper Teen)

ISBN-13: 978-0061962745 (Harper Teen)

Reviewed by: Emmy


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.

Quick & Dirty: McCafferty takes the serious topic of teen pregnancy and infuses her novel with humor and friendship to create a dystopian that’s almost too believable.

Opening Sentence: I’m sixteen.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review

Science fiction is all about blowing your mind — with technology that’s out of this world and viral apocalypses that destroy society — but McCafferty takes a little bit of both and builds a world where teenage pregnancy is the most important aspect of society. Melody is about to become pregnant. She’s sixteen — her most fertile years — and has been contracted to have a baby for a wealthy family. Her sister Harmony’s life in Goodside has been all about God and family — to the extreme where it’s less of a religion and more of a cult.

In Melody’s world, kids who meet the age and intelligence criteria get representation who score them contracts to have kids. For those living in Goodside, it’s arranged marriages, then kids. Neither side escapes the teen pregnancy aspect, neither side is really better than the other — both have some depressing downsides. Harmony’s world is less of a transaction, but odds are you aren’t marrying someone you love. For most of the book Harmony struggles between loving God and her religion, which are not the same thing. She’s out to save the world from sin, which is what she’s been raised to believe is right, but totally put me off for the first half of the book.

Because the story’s told alternating perspectives, I found Melody’s more comfortable to read from. She’s much more in line with the way her side of the tracks works — ready to get her contract and bump with whoever they select — until her identity is stolen and she’s forced to take in what her society really cares about. I tried to hate Jondoe. I really did. He’s so conceited! But then of course, he has to go and show his concerned side and I just couldn’t. Zen was far and away my favorite — smart, charming, sweet — and who needs tall babies? He’s five seven and a half. That’s not exactly short. I mean really.

There’s no antagonist in this novel. Well, there’s the system, obviously, where teacher, guardians and the government encourage teens to get pregnant and sell their baby to the highest bidder, but no one person. The whole society is complicit in this horrible way of life, so there’s no one to throw stones at here. If you can wade through the distracting techno-jargon, the world is recognizably and disturbingly our own in the future.

I definitely expected a darker tone to Bumped since the topic is so serious, but like in her Jessica Darling novels, McCafferty makes you laugh until you cry. Honestly though, that’s pretty much the only thing these two series have in common. Bumped is so different from any other book I’ve read I can’t even think of a distant comparison. While it was good, it doesn’t have me begging for Thumped.

Notable Scene:

The FunBump squirms against the back of the dressing-room wall, and one of the twins elbows or maybe a knee pokes out of the bogus belly. What felt like an organic extension of my own body just moments ago now makes me more squeamish than my worst case of Sympathetic Morning Sickness. I stab my finger deep into the belly on/off button more aggressively than necessary and the FunBump goes limp.

“You’re knocked up,” sing the little girls along with the incessant Babiez R U theme song. “Ready to pop, due to drop.”

It’s hard not to get jealous of these nubie-pubies who, if they’re pretty enough, smart enough, and healthy enough–should already be getting wooed by RePro Representatives. Those were the best times, when I was still all promise and potential. Because right now I’m definitely not the most important sixteen-year-old on the planet. Not even ish. I’m just another prebumped girl dangerously close to wasting her prime reproductivity.

Bumped Series:

1. Bumped

2. Thumped

FTC Advisory: Balzer + Bray/Harper Teen provided me with a copy of Bumped. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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