Thursday, May 5, 2011

Book Recommendation: Bumped by Megan McCafferty

BUMPED by Megan McCafferty

Summary: (from the publisher)

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. .

My thoughts:
The jacket flap does not do this book justice.  Since I read it, I've tried to describe it to a number of people.  Over and over I come back to this:  It's like a really disturbing sci-fi, maybe The Matrix, but narrated by Cher from Clueless.  I know...but trust me.

The pregnancy-dominated slang was hard to take at first, kind of hard to understand, but once I decided to just let it in and wait for answers later, I really started to enjoy it.  I couldn't believe how many slang terms McCafferty could come up with!  The language did so much for the world-building, I can't imagine the book without it.  

While the plot should have been far-fetched to the point of intolerance--I mean, identical twins separated at birth? Come on--but McCafferty made it work.  It all made sense in the weird world of Melody and Harmony.  The characters at first read more like caricatures than real people, but ultimately that felt like the point.

The whole purpose of the novel, I believe, was to hold a mirror up to the extremes of our culture and add a whopping dose of Miracle Grow and about 25 years to mature them.  Harmony represents the extreme of religious devotion, with an obsession for purity, salvation and conversion.  Melody represents the extreme of consumerism, with an obsession for status, micro-celebrity and commodity.  The duel pictures McCafferty creates are not so extreme they seem impossible, or even so very distant.

Give the world a progressive virus that causes infertility, and I could easily see this happening.  Way too easily.  And that discomfort is exactly the point.  Making pregnancy trendy?  Um, we're already halfway there.  But as another reviewer pointed out, McCafferty managed to deliver (ha ha, pardon the pun) this biting warning against such a society without being completely anti-sex.  You'd think the two would go hand-in-hand, but instead she managed to send a lot of positive messages about sexuality, and especially being in charge of your own.

Can't complain about that!  At least, I can't.

I'm not too surprised this book isn't getting the credit it deserves.  It's more satire than entertainment.  But if you are someone who reads for more than just escapism, I think you'll find something to like in here.

Recommended for:
Have you seen the movie Idiocracy?  If not, maybe check that out.  If you like it, you'll like BUMPED.  Also, the movie Heathers.  I apologize for all the movie references, but sometimes they're just easier.

Has anyone else read this yet?

- Liz


Kristan said...

"I'm not too surprised this book isn't getting the credit it deserves."

Actually I've been reading about it on book blogs for weeks. So no worries there!

Sophia Richardson said...

It's been on my TBR list for a few weeks and your review makes me want to read it even more. I just read a book (Fat by Rob Grant) imagining a world where being overweight is close to a crime and it had this same eerie believability.
- Sophia.

Liz Czukas said...

@Kristan - I've been hearing about it a TON, but when I went looking at other review sites, it's not getting the credit it deserves. Unexpected bad press.

@Sophia - that sounds like an amazing book! I'm putting it on my TBR!

- Liz