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Review: Bumped

Bumped by Megan McCafferty was released on April 26, 2011 in the U.S. It is currently available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble in hardcover and eBook formats.

Published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins, the print edition is 336 pages.

Bumped is one of the books that can be chosen for the 2011 Debut Author Challenge hosted by Kristi at TheStorySiren.com.

Goodreads description:

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.

***

Imagine a world where a virus would make you infertile, typically by the time you were eighteen. That from the moment you were old enough to conceive, society would push you to do so.

Where the government’s propaganda machine is out in full force working with advertisers to ensure that their slogans, their music, their message would move everyone toward that one single goal – procreate or face extinction. Convincing the young that not only should they do it to save the species, but because everyone is doing it, it is the thing to do and they wouldn’t want to miss out.

And in this world, where children are the only chance for survival, for salvation, it is the parents who have a golden opportunity to prey on their naiveté and profit from their willingness to follow the trend.

Becoming a Surrogette could be very lucrative, especially for those reproaesthetical enough to go pro and bring in the big contracts. If bumping is a necessary evil, why not accept the perks?

This is life in Otherside. This is life for Melody. She is on the path to success. A pioneer for professional Surrogettes. She has everything going for her. She has the looks. She has the brains. She has the athleticism. She has the contract. All she needs is to get bumped. The only one standing in her way is Harmony.

Harmony is from Goodside. The side where bumping is reserved for husbands and wives. Where procreation is still a necessity but is done only in the marriage bed. Where the community abides by the scriptures and believes that because of their faith, their purity, the virus that came to those so young in Otherside is afflicting those in Goodside at a later age.

But Harmony’s life in Goodside is not on a sure path. She is a thinker where individual thought is not welcome. And she has questions. If she could just find some way to redeem herself she knows she’ll find the happiness and acceptance she has been missing. And the only one standing in her way is Melody.

***

Bumped is a humorous and thought-provoking dystopian novel about a future version of our society on the verge of extinction, whose only chance at survival is for those not affected by the infertility virus to procreate. And the only ones capable and holding the power are teenagers.

In this future, society is split into two groups – those who live in Goodside and those who live in Otherside. They are both radically different, but they both have one thing in common – survival of the species.

Melody has lived her life in Otherside, being groomed to be the best Surrogette she possibly could. She had all the comforts and opportunities that life could offer her. Harmony grew up in Goodside, in a community that shunned the outside world, where hearth and home replaced wealth and power as the desired lifestyle. And venturing beyond the boundaries of Goodside was not an option.

But when Harmony discovers that she has an identical twin sister living in Otherside, she makes it her mission to save her sister and bring Melody back with her. But it may not be Melody who needs saving.

Bumped is a wickedly entertaining read, but not a story that should be read lightly. Author Megan McCafferty takes a humorous approach to a topic that could be seen as highly controversial – a future where not only is premarital sex by minors accepted, but endorsed by the government, and one in which profiting from promiscuity is the norm.

In this future, young teenagers, and even preteens, are encouraged to procreate, to take mood-enhancing drugs to help facilitate the process, are made celebrities by the media for numerous pregnancies and are ostracized by friends and society if they haven’t jumped on the bandwagon.

The surface story is light and amusing but the underlying one is a chilling look at a dark future. Bumped is very original and is just scary good.

This is a must read for not-so-young adults who are looking for a story that will provoke discussion and thought and are not easily offended by language and concepts of a sexual nature. This book may not be appropriate for all ages and adults may want to read this through before suggesting it a younger audience.

Reviewer gives this book [rating=5]

On a personal note:

I was really surprised by how much I loved this book. Before I decided to read it for review I checked out some of the ratings, as although I love most of the dystopian novels I read it isn’t necessarily a genre I will seek out. Ratings seemed to be all over the map, so I decided to read it and judge it for myself.

And I really enjoyed the story. There were two things that pulled me in, though it took a couple of false starts to get me going.

The first was the outrageousness of the premise. Although, the scary reality is that it might not be so out there – I can totally imagine a world where a virus causes infertility and I know it’s not a stretch for advertisers, marketers and songwriters to push their influence on the impressionable. But the way the author presented the idea was very unique. And really, really funny.

The second was my absolute hatred for most of the story of Harmony. I cannot stand people who think they know best. Who inject themselves into a situation and then without thought for anyone but themselves act without even considering the consequences.

I get that she was weak and confused whereas Melody was strong and just kept getting stronger, but oh man she just rubbed me the wrong way from the start and that absolutely got me hooked into this story. I had to know just how far the damage went.

I loved Melody. She was strong and smart and although she was closed off at the beginning – keeping her eye on the prize – she really became a much better person as the story went on.

I am not a young adult reading this, and I’m sure some of the content may be inappropriate for younger readers, especially if they’re not looking for the underlying messages and only looking at this on the surface as a cute, fun and funny story that talks about some adult topics in a youthful and non-serious sounding way.

I do think younger readers are capable of discovering the messages without being negatively influenced, but I do think that readers who are a little older might appreciate the humor a bit more than younger readers, without any risk of reading something age-inappropriate or being distracted by some of the terminology.

I think the author did a fantastic job of showing just how the government and the media can brainwash, for lack of a better term, impressionable individuals if they start at a young enough age. And how offering incentives can lure in those of any age to profit from something that might not otherwise be seen as acceptable. The fact that she used humor and some very original terms to get her point across gave this story its quirkiness and individuality and made the pages just fly by.

And long after the read I am still giggling like a five-year-old at some of the words, but I am also still thinking about how very real some of the influences in this story are and how they affect our society.

At the end I still loved Melody best, but am hating Harmony just a little bit less. And I am really looking forward to the next book to see what happens as everything is so up in the air.

***

If you’d like to read an excerpt of Bumped from RT Book Reviews, click here.

An untitled second book in the series is currently slated for release in 2011.

The author discusses Bumped:

Thank you to HarperTeen and NetGalley for the eARC for review.

Note: The eARC is around 244 pages and the finished copy says it’s 336 pages so there may be major differences between the advance copy and the final book.

Bumped by Megan McCafferty will also be released on April 26, 2011 in the U.S. It is currently available for pre-order at Amazon and Barnes & Noble in hardcover and eBook formats.Published by Balzer + Bray, a division of Harper Collins, the print edition is 336 pages.

Bumped is one of the books that can be chosen for the 2011 Debut Author Challenge hosted by Kristi at TheStorySiren.com. (Although this is considered a 2011 debut YA novel for the author she does have two previously published books for teens.)

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