Author: Megan McCafferty
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release date: April 26, 2011
Source: NetGalley ARC
Series: Bumped #1
Summary: (from Goodreads) 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. 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.
First impressions: I love the language in this book. Right away, Megan McCafferty sets us up in a new time with new slang. Personally, I tend to say "for serious" a LOT in real life, so it tickled me every time I saw it here. McCafferty does a great job of grounding us in this alternate time so we feel comfortable right away.
Lasting impressions: That's it? It's just going to stop there? I kept looking for the rest of the story. Needless to say, there's a cliffhanger at the end, and it's quite abrupt.
Conflicting impressions: I found Harmony to be quite grating. I didn't really care for her, so found it really hard to care about what was happening to her.
Overall impressions: I don't like it when things go awry, especially when the characters seem so content with the status quo. I need to be shown, fairly explicitly, how a character comes to accept his or her change in circumstance, otherwise I get a bit cranky.
Here's an example. Have you seen the movie Sweet Home Alabama with Reese Witherspoon? I wanted her to end up with Patrick Dempsey. She had a good, full life with him. Why should she give that up to be with Josh Lucas? Apparently, for love, but I couldn't for the life of me find the reasons as to why she didn't love Patrick Dempsey enough. It irked me that she gave up a good man and a life she worked so hard to build just to throw it all away for an old love she hadn't seen in years.
This book similarly irritated me. Melody has spent her entire life doing everything she can to make a good match. She is a good student, a star athlete, active in school clubs, and an all-around good person. Because of this, she signed a lucrative contract that will fund her future, which she seems incredibly happy with.
When her secret twin sister shows up on her doorstep, having run away from a strict Christian cult, everything gets all messy. Harmony is mistaken for Melody and ends up running off with Melody's match, Jondoe. He's the prize bull everyone has been waiting for to "bump" (impregnate) Melody, and over the course of one day Harmony manages to screw everything up.
What most bothered me was the ease with which both characters seemed to completely flip-flop their views. Harmony starts out as a repressed Christian and Melody is this pro-pregg, pro-bump leader of her school. Somehow over the course of a day or two, they wind up miles from where they started. They not only don't seem to care that their views have changed, but they also seem happy about it. Neither of them seem to fully think through anything and when the tides turn they just sort of go with it in this hard to believe, impulsive manner. McCafferty does give us hints that these girls aren't all that comfortable with the things they were taught to believe, but the climax of the story doesn't do enough to justify how easily they leave behind their world views.
I did very much like the world McCafferty created, however, and the story itself is fascinating. I would have liked some more conflict between the sisters after the dust settles on Harmony's mis-steps, but the build between best friend Zen and Melody is perfectly done. Melody is believably clueless about Zen's feelings for her, and yet it's easy to see why she could fall in love with him without even realizing it.
Although we don't get a lot of background on this virus that prevents reproductivity after age 18, I felt like the scenario seemed valid for that circumstance. If women couldn't have babies, wouldn't the free market lead to teens selling their babies? Harmony's cult/faith represents the opposite view, where people are rejecting this practice and instead opting to marry and have children at an early age. I'm not sure if I'm more comfortable with teen mother-wives or with teen baby-sellers. I wish we'd had a view of the middle ground in this debate.
This book is certainly a conversation starter. Although for me the characters were frustratingly nonsensical with their choices at times, it was still an interesting story. I would recommend it to dystopian lovers or anyone who wants a thought-provoking perspective on teen pregnancy.
Rating: 3/5 stars
Want a different perspective? Check out this rave review by girl loves books.