Bumped by Megan McCafferty (website | twitter)
Release Date: April 26, 2011
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Target Audience: Young Adult
Format read: Last year: borrowed by library. Reread: Nook download.
Summary: When a virus sweeps the world not so far into the future causing infertility in those over the age of 18ish, it is teen moms to the rescue! Melody is one of those potential teen moms. Once her agent finds her the best potential sperm provider, her future child will go to parents in exchange for her college tuition, a car, post-tummy tuck, and a nice advance. She is still waiting to be bumped when her twin sister, Harmony, shows up on her doorstep out of nowhere. Separated at birth, the two have grown up in two different worlds. Harmony was brought up to follow the word of the Lord and save “sinners” who are paid to pregg. She’s come to save Melody and that’s when things start to get complicated.
I first read Bumped last summer after going on a huge Jessica Darling rampage. I could have been Jessica Darling. I related to her and her crazy antics so much. So to pick up Bumped by the same author is sort of baffling for me because I never read dystopias and for her because she has managed to create SUCH a different world from the one we live in, a.k.a. Jessica Darling’s reality. (Okay, maybe NOT so different when it comes to theme but to the smallest detail, she has played God in a huge way.) And that, to me, as a reader and as an aspiring writer, is completely impressive. You could see the author really challenged herself here because as a reader, I am continually challenged by the lingo she has manifested and the problems and urgencies of Bumped’s environment.
The beginning is slow. And it’s not because it’s boring. You have to get used to his new language, this crazy world where 11-year old girls think it’s glamorous to be pregnant, where another girl is a celebrity because she can pop out 9 babies before she is 18. It’s a lot to swallow because the reality is so different. I’m 27 years old. According to this book, I would have been shit out of luck to conceive for the past 9ish years or so. I can’t even imagine that (especially now, being married and “settled” and still not knowing when I’ll be ready to have a child of my own). Not only that, the babies are given away. There is such an extreme detachment in this world. And it’s funny because they are surrounded by something called “miNet” which is like the extreme to our internet-filled lives. Everyone is pretty much under constant surveillance. It’s not like now where I can turn off my computer after work, walk to the train station, ride the train, and drive home before checking my email again. It is always there.
It’s safe to say I’m more disgusted with the lives of these girls and the lack of independence and choice than I was the first time around. Parents and agents and everyone treat these teenagers like they are property. They are constantly branded and improved upon to achieve the best selling price in the end and it makes me sick. We can look at Teen Mom and Jersey Shore where kids are paid to fall over each other drunk all the time, or get in fights with their babies’ daddies, but they chose that lifestyle. They didn’t need to be on TV. It’s like the girls in Bumped don’t have a choice. This is their role and if they don’t stick to it, they are outcasts. They are not fulfilling their purpose in life. Not to mention, the existence of mankind is in their hands because if they stop procreating as teens, the population will continue to die down until we don’t exist anymore.
So that’s Melody’s side of the story. And then we have Harmony, who for a while, felt like she had things a little bit better. But while she’s thumping all her love for God to everyone who will listen, in her world, she’s forced to marry a man she doesn’t love (not even close) and is expected to have children with him. An arranged marriage, basically. So we are left to ponder: what is worse? Having unattached sex with someone just to have a baby you will hand over to another couple? Having unattached sex with multiple partners to do the above? Or marrying and having sex with someone you don’t love? Clearly, Melody and Harmony have a lot more in common than they thought.
It’s like there is such a rush to procreate that the feelings are missing. Love, flirting, the innocent fun things like hand holding and dates. LOVE, people! I’m getting worked up. It’s the small things that are dropped to the wayside and that’s upsetting too.
Can you tell I’m sucked in though? McCafferty did such a wonderful job with this book. I was constantly amazed by her phrasing and her word choices. I love how we get to know Harmony and Melody through every other chapter, but still remain a bit detached as readers. The book’s pacing feels like the quintessential snowball effect, like being on the downward motion on a roller coaster and not being able to stop. It’s not a story that’s for everyone though. But it is so worth taking the chance especially when you have the time or patience to savor its events and discoveries.
Final thought: Do these two girls have the power to change this world?
As you could probably tell, I couldn’t wait to start Thumped…