As I recently announced in my “Random Thoughts” post, I am starting a new feature here on the blog called “Book Buzz.” It will be a weekly or bi-weekly post in which a “buzzworthy” book will be up for discussion.
All information in these posts will be my opinions and observations. I do not claim to be an expert, nor do I claim to be all-knowing, these are simply my thoughts and things I’ve observed.
I would like this to be an open discussion. All viewpoints are welcome as long as they do not contain inappropriate language for readers of all ages. And all opinions should be respectful and they should be respected. Everyone has a right to their own opinion and no one opinion is more important than another. Critical, differing or challenging opinions are always welcome, being insulting or nasty to an author or other commenter is not and those comments will be removed.
If you would like to buzz about a book on your site, please leave a link to your post in the comments so that I or other readers can visit your blog and participate in your discussion.
So, without further ado, here is this week’s “Book Buzz.”
Bumped by Megan McCafferty. Released on April 26th – so it’s a very recent release.
Loved it or Hated it?
Loved it. Yes, it did take me a couple tries to actually get into the book, but once I did, I was hooked. I thought there were elements that were so funny that I caught myself chuckling out loud quite a few times during this one-sit-read.
But what made this book for me was that it actually got me thinking. Because as light and funny as it appears on the surface I found there to be so much more hidden beneath.
The Early Buzz:
There was a huge amount of build-up for this book. I haven’t been witness to too many debut books with quite the amount of hype that this book had. Everyone was talking about it on Twitter. Everyone was discussing its beautiful but simple cover. It seemed everyone could not wait to get their hands on a copy and were jealous of those who had.
And when it became available on NetGalley, HarperTeen must have been swarmed with review requests. I know it took several weeks before I was approved, whereas I had previously been approved within a day or two for their titles.
I was completely caught up in the early frenzy. I just had to have this book. But as I didn’t get to read it as early as some, by the time it got to the top of my pile the reviews were pouring in.
Fizzle or Sizzle:
Fizzle. The buzz on this book died out rather quickly. It’s only just over a week since its release and I’ve barely heard anything more about it. I typically hear the chatter for at least a week or two after release as readers get their copies in the mail post-release and finally read and review them.
After release, for at least a short time, the buzz still remains, but for Bumped, it seems to have gone quickly and quietly away. And when browsing my local bookstore I was not able to find a copy of the book.
Mixed reviews. Just look at the starred ratings on Goodreads and Amazon and you can see that they are all over the map – from one star to five stars, with most somewhere in the middle. The fact that there were so many mixed reviews may have scared potential readers off. If a book has consistent praise, even those skeptics will pick it up just so that they won’t miss out. Who doesn’t want to be part of the conversation for a book that is H.O.T.?
Controversy. The book is aimed at a young adult audience. The subject matter, as well as some of the language used in this story, was not seen by everyone as appropriate for readers of all ages. Some felt, too, that the humor made the idea of getting bumped too appealing for young female readers. And others didn’t approve of the religious aspects to the story.
Similarities. Some felt it was just too similar to The Handmaid’s Tale and paled in comparison.
Genre. Although dystopian novels are growing in number and popularity, it’s still not a genre loved by all.
Add all this together and you could have a book that is quickly set aside when the next book comes along or perhaps simply overlooked.
What’s Left to Buzz About?
For me, it boils down to one thing – this book really made me think.
Not about the characters being twins or the fact that one really walked all over the other. Not even about whether or not the super hot Johndoe is a good guy or a bad guy. And not even about the fact that there are a lot of dark-ish futuristic books that seem to be set in New Jersey. What is that about anyway?
I really got to thinking about a world where infertility is a problem and we have to rely on the youth in our country for survival. I don’t know how at ease I’d feel about putting that burden on the young.
And then candy-coating it with all sorts of propaganda to make it palatable for children, to make getting bumped the “it” thing, just sits wrong. But survival is a crazy thing and people will do most anything to survive. Even the government is not immune to this instinct.
But targeting – manipulating, really – teens and even pre-teens through media and advertising, and targeting families who could use the economic boost just seems to be a step too far.
Because the buzz died out so soon, potential readers are really missing out on this aspect of the story. It is definitely a topic worthy of discussion and thought.
How would you handle the prospect of a dwindling society? Would you see your child as a commodity? Would you railroad them into early pregnancy, multiple pregnancies even, just so that your species would survive? Would you sell these babies to the highest bidder to get the finer things in life?
…and then of course there’s the humor.
The author added so many humorous elements to this story that lightened this grim tale. From song lyrics, to adverts, to all that is Johndoe, to the terminology, Megan McCafferty used levity to counter the rather dark and disturbing nature of this story.
I think without the humor, the reality of what was being asked of those young teenagers – and even pre-teens – would have made this book too disturbing of a read.
Did the humor make this story too appealing to young readers so that they’d miss the point and instead think getting bumped is cool? Was the humor too flippant for such a serious topic as teen pregnancy? Was the author’s use of humor too much of a sugarcoating for such a tough topic? Should it have been more serious so readers would take the subject matter more seriously?
I say yes. What do you say? What about Bumped is buzzworthy for you? Or is this one of those books you think should quietly fade into the background as it seems to have done?
Any item related to this book is up for discussion. Just because I haven’t mentioned it here doesn’t mean you can’t bring it up in the comments. I am just trying to keep this as focused as possible so that readers won’t fall asleep in the middle of this overly long post.
And feel free to discuss any points of interest from reviews that you’ve seen and would like to talk about. But please talk about them in general terms and not point out specific reviews unless they are my reviews or your own.
As this is the very first “Book Buzz” post, this format may evolve over time. Before even going “live” I’ve re-written this at least four times. And this is actually a shortened version – I took out my discussion on the reviews and my opinions. And as these posts are meant to keep the conversation about a book going, I decided not to focus on why the book might not be a success and tried to focus on why it could be.
If there is anything you’d like to see added to future “Buzz” posts, please let me know! I’m happy to keep it much simpler, leaving more room for discussion and including much less of my ramble.