Monday, May 02, 2011

Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Bumped is the first official young adult novel by author Megan McCafferty, who previously wrote the Jessica Darling series. It takes place in a dystopian world where a virus has made everyone over eighteen infertile, so people looking to have children are instead paying teen girls to conceive and give birth instead. Bumped focuses on the contrasting stories of identical twins, Melody and Harmony, who had never met until Harmony randomly shows up on Melody's doorstep one day. The novel alternates between the two girls' points of view, with Harmony having spent her whole life on the religious Goodside where she prepared to be a wife and mother, and Melody living on the Otherside where she has a conception contract with a couple who will pay her a lot of money... assuming they can decide on a partner before Melody turns eighteen. Harmony's goal is to convince Melody that "pregging for profit" is wrong, but is that really the reason Harmony left her home, or does she have a bigger secret? Things get extra-complicated when Melody finally is matched and a case of mistaken identity begins a journey which shows Melody and Harmony they have more in common than just DNA.

Bumped is the first book I've read by McCafferty, and it definitely made me interested in picking up her Jessica Darling series which is a contemporary series about teenage girls. In fact, I am probably more interested in picking up her other series than picking up the companion to Bumped, despite the fact that the book has one of those unfortunate not-quite-an-ending-endings that sometimes plague the first books in series. The reason for my interest in McCafferty's other books is simply that while Bumped was a fun read with a definite sense of humour, it doesn't work at all as a dystopia. Maybe I'm picky since dystopia is definitely one of my favourite genres, but in Bumped, the reader is simply dropped into the world, complete with a whole new set of slang, with no idea how they got there. What is this virus that has infected everyone? How did the current world develop into the dystopia McCafferty has created? When it came to the ability to world-build believably, Bumped left me with more questions than answers.

When it came to the characters, I definitely have a soft spot for stories about twins since I am one myself, but Harmony and Melody's case of mistaken identity, as well as the whole idea of being raised in two polar opposite worlds not knowing about each other, seemed a little too Parent Trap or It Takes Two for me. I also felt that many of the secondary characters were pretty poorly developed, people like Melody's parents who are conveniently on vacation while all of her mishaps are going on and who pushed Melody to "preg for profit", as well as most of her friends one of whom had a breakdown following giving up her baby. Such characters clearly had an interesting back story, but they often seemed to exist mostly to make a particular statement, for example about parents using their children, and never felt real to me.

An aspect of the Bumped I really enjoyed was the relationship between Melody and her best friend Zen. Zen himself is pretty adorable, smart and funny but unfortunately undesirable because he is vertically challenged. I absolutely loved the banter between him and Melody. The subtle tensions developing between the two of them felt believable, and I just wished for a few more moments like that in the novel. I was less convinced about Harmony's budding relationship, but perhaps it will be more fleshed out in the sequel. Another scene that stuck with me was when Melody visits the hospital and runs into a young girl who she thinks is pretending to be pregnant only to realize the girl actual is about to give birth. It was a moment that is particularly scary in face of current culture and the increasing popularity, or at least publicity, of teen pregnancy and how young girls want to emulate those they look up to.

Although I had high expectations for the book, when I first began reading Bumped I was a little puzzled. Not just because it took me awhile to grasp the details of McCafferty's world, but also because I don't usually associate dystopia with a fun read. In the end I loved the idea, but sometimes found the execution lacking. It also took awhile to get me actually interested in the characters themselves, but once I did I found them charming if occasionally one-dimensional. Overall, Bumped failed as a believable dystopia, but succeeded in entertaining and fun read that has me definitely interested in picking up McCafferty's other books.

Release Date: May 1st, 2011
Pages: 336
: 3/5

Source: Netgalley
Buy the Book


  1. You made a really great point about not knowing any background about how this world came to be because we know virtually nothing about this virus. Come to think of it, I can't recall the virus even being mentioned IN the book itself. I think it's only mentioned in the synopsis.

    I was also extremely frustrated with the ending (or lack thereof). What did you think of it?

  2. A fun dystopia? Hmmm. That sounds intriguing. May have to check this one out.


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