Bumped by Megan McCafferty
(Bumped # 1)
HarperCollins, 304 pages
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 Melodyâ€™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 â€œpreggingâ€ 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 girlsâ€™ 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.
When I first heard that Megan McCafferty of Jessica Darling fame is coming up with a YA dystopia novel, I kind of squee-d. I wasn’t sure if I was squee-ing because it’s a dystopia novel, or because it was written by Megan McCafferty — probably both, so it was one of my highly anticipated reads for 2011.
It was the year 2036, and teen girls are the most important people in the world. Girls under the age of 18 and are fertile, that is, after a virus has spread that renders adults incapable of producing offspring. Teen girls — the ones who allow themselves to be, that is — are now surrogettes, allowing themselves to get “pregged” for a couple who wants children, at least until before they become infertile, too. Some girls make use of their fertility as a business, prepping themselves up with talents and health just so people would bid on their wombs, and they’d get pregged by top guys who are obviously selling their fertility as well. This is where we find Melody Mayflower, who’s 16, a pro-pregg but still waiting for her agent to get the best guy to pregg her for her very picky clients. Melody’s life has been planned from early on, until she meets one person she never expected: her twin sister, Harmony.
Now if Harmony had the same viewpoint as Melody, there probably wouldn’t be any problems. But she’s not. Harmony comes from the Goodside, a little community that believes that pregging for profit is a sin. When Harmony finds out she has a twin, she goes to the Otherside to visit her, and intends to help her twin see the light and bring her to Goodside. That is, if Harmony’s own secrets don’t chase after her.
Bumped is fun. I was immediately faced with loud, strong characters who fought for attention from page one, but I never really felt overwhelmed by them. Just like in Jessica Darling, Megan McCafferty had the characters’ voices down pat. I actually really liked Harmony, even if I know most people were annoyed by her. I think it’s probably because I saw the churchy side of me in her. I never felt lost between the switching POVs, and I found the twins very endearing despite their differences. The supporting characters were quite fun, too, especially Shoko and Zen and even Johndoe, even if I was never really sure about Johndoe’s personality. McCafferty definitely knows her characters, and it was a pleasure to read them.
The world that the characters moved in is kind of confusing, so it took a while for me to get fully immersed in it. There were a lot of familiar things but it took me a while to place them, especially the technology that they were using. I don’t think this represents the kind of dystopia that people are used to or that people expect, but as far as the world building is concerned, I think it’s pretty stellar. You can see that the author really built her world from the ground up, taking care to make sure details fit, and that it all felt real. Take a bit of patience getting yourself familiar with the world, and soon you’d also want to have your own MiNet contacts (like Facebook, Twitter and all other social media thing combined — maybe even uses some kind of megameeting.com web conferencing), or even wonder if anyone has a Stalker app on you. :P
Overall, I found Bumped not only enjoyable, but actually quite relevant especially in the light of all the Reproductive Health Bill issues happening in my country right now. I don’t have much opinion over that debate, but I think the story that Bumped tells can be connected with that — whether for pro or anti, I’m not really sure. I do think this book tackles issues existing today in a thought provoking but funny way, and it would be useful to start good discussions on teen pregnancy, sex, and religion among others.
The ending wasn’t really such a big cliffhanger, but I do want more. I’m curious to what will happen to Melody and Harmony. Bumped is another good one from Megan McCafferty, and I think missing this one would is a neggy thing to do. :)
My copy: Kindle edition
Cover and blurb: Goodreads