When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society. Girls sport fake baby bumps and the school cafeteria stocks folic-acid-infused food.
Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and have never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Up to 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 Goodside, a religious community, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to convince Melody 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.
Since early childhood, Melody has been groomed by her parents to be the perfect surrogate. She is beautiful, smart, athletic and popular, and it was no surprise that her agent managed to get her a six-figure deal with the Jaydens, a wealthy, childless couple. Now all Melody has to do is wait for the Jaydens to pick a boy who meets their high expectations, for Melody to reproduce with. In the meantime all of Melody’s friends are getting pregnant and giving birth, as Melody impatiently waits in the sidelines for her turn to come.
But when Melody discovers that she has an identical twin sister, all of her plans are suddenly at risk. If the Jaydens find out that Melody is not as unique as they had been led to believe, they might not be as interested in her anymore. Though it seems like a safe bet that this secret will remain hidden because Melody’s twin lives on a secluded religious commune, and it is unlikely that her and Melody will ever meet. Until she shows up one day on Melody’s doorstep.
Harmony was ecstatic at discovering that she has a twin sister and now she wants nothing more than to help her sister find G-d, and to bring her back to Goodside with her. But when Harmony encounters the gorgeous guy that the Jaydons have netted to breed with Melody, she suddenly finds herself distracted from her mission by desires that she didn’t even know she had.
YA dystopian books are all the rage now and Megan McCafferty is making her contribution by examining a future in which teenager girls have become breeders for the adult population who are no longer able to conceive.
The concept here is an interesting one though Bumped is so light and frothy that the seriousness of the book’s topic doesn’t really come across or provoke readers to examine it in depth. In the story, teenage pregnancy is extolled so much by society that teenagers will do anything to get pregnant, and can think of little else. A pregnant stomach becomes a status symbol which every girl dreams of acquiring. But only once in the book do we get a look at the other side of the coin, at what happens when a pregnancy or labor goes wrong, and this was hardly enough to make a convincing argument as to why the current situation might be problematic.
Although Bumped was relatively entertaining, I had a bit of trouble getting into it in the beginning due to all of the made-up slang terms and “futuristic” phrases that liberally pepper the dialogue, but are not explained. For some reason it’s not until a phrase is used several times that the author clarifies what it means, and in some cases it’s not until the very end that an explanation was provided. And so for the first few chapters I had no idea what the characters were talking about. It doesn’t help that the slang is pretty ridiculous, deriving from the characters’ obsession with sex and pregnancy. “Bumped” means to become pregnant, “fertilicious” is attractive and ”nubie-pubies” are preteens. I’m still guessing what the frequently used term “anythingbut” is supposed to mean, since sometimes it was used as a noun and other times as a verb. But I’m not losing too much sleep over it.
I also had trouble with the fact that the narration switches too frequently between the POVs making it difficult to get to know either of the protagonists, or to get involved in their individual stories. It wasn’t until I was halfway through the book that the story finally caught hold of me, once I had a grasp of the strange terminology and had adjusted to the format of the narration.
While Bumped raises some interesting issues I didn’t find that it really explored them in a way that challenged me to think about them, as my favorite dystopian books have done. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale but from what I know of it, it sounds like Bumped is a lighter version of the book, for a younger readership. It was entertaining enough, but not particularly thought provoking.