review: bumped by megan mccafferty

Author: Megan McCafferty
Publication Date: 04/26/2011
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (Harper Collins)
Pages: 336
Source: Library
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. (goodreads)
A genetic virus prevents females over 18 from conceiving and carrying a pregnancy, so now teens are much sought-after and highly prized. Girls considered 'genetically unique' are paid to have a baby for older couples. Melody is one such unique girl, however, when she finds the twin she barely knew she had on her doorstep she also finds her life taking a turn.

Okay, I bite. Interesting idea. I've been waiting for this book to become available for awhile, and when my hold on it finally came up at the library I was rather excited. Yet nothing but the idea of it really held any real conviction for me. The book starts off immediately with Melody in a shopping centre wrapped in a faux baby bump contemplating what it's like to be pregnant. We're inundated with all sorts of new technology such as the MiNet (which never is really explained anywhere, but is something I imagined to be sort of like a virtual reality Facebook users can access in their head) and MiVu (video chatting?) and all sorts of different slang terms relating to their everyday norms.

I can even get beyond the slang because after awhile it all became supportive of the overall idea and much easier to read. (Although I can understand where others might have an issue with it, and it seems to be a common hurdle for readers to overcome.) However, there is nowhere near enough background on why this virus came about and what people are doing to eradicate it. One of the main characters, Melody, mentions she would like to become an epidemiologist but that's the only reference to any sort of viral eradication mentioned. I can't get over the idea that it's more plausible to rent out young girls' ovaries rather than look for a cure, even if procreation is necessary for survival. 

It's also mentioned that in the religious communities - of which Melody's twin sister, Harmony, comes from - that the birth rate there is much higher, with women in their twenties and thirties able to conceive. There's been no studies to look into this? I
t almost seems as if they're content to leave things as is to serve as a constant means of population control. The absence of adults in the society also seems off and their lack of a presence is almost by itself an approval of the societal behavior (especially if Melody's parents are anything to go by).

I did like this book, but there's a lot missing for me - not enough information to make a good idea believable. But it does raise some important issues such as: the bizarre promotion these days of teen pregnancy in the media and toys with the parallel idea of teen sponsorship of such things (paying teens to appear in magazines & on tv shows) and the overwhelming pressure of social media.
"I'm sixteen. I'm not pregnant. But at this very moment, I feel like the most important person on the planet." - Melody (323)
Yes, this review might have read a little like an essay and that's because if anything, Bumped made me think pretty seriously. I will be reading the next book in the series to see where the ideas go and I encourage readers to check it out as it is a quick read that I believe most people will enjoy.

You can read an interesting interview with McCafferty about Bumped here courtesy of i swim for oceans.

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