Reading Level: Young Adult
eBook ARC: 244 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins), 26 April 2011
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. (quoted from Goodreads)
So what to say about Bumped? Hmm. Well, I wanted to like this more than I did. I wish that weren't true, but there you have it. I read the first thirty pages or so and simply couldn't get into it, so I set it down for a bit. It took me another week or so to pick it back up and finally plow through it. Am I glad I picked it up again? I'm not quite sure.
The biggest problem I had with this novel was that the future-speak was definitely difficult to get used to. The crude language was also too much and it made it difficult for me to fully appreciate the message behind the story. The lingo saturated every page so much that I quickly tired of it and started skipping sections. Thankfully, it seemed as though the author took pity on the reader and refrained from using too much lingo once the second part started. I was aware this novel was a satire/dystopia going into it, but I'm not so sure it really worked for me. Apparently our twin narrators were born in 2020 - which is not that far away - and I had a real hard time believing our world could turn into theirs in such a short period of time. Maybe if the author had set the story in an unidentified time in the future, it would have worked better for me. At the beginning of the book, there is a letter from the author explaining her inspiration and that this particular novel is expressed by using extreme viewpoints. As I read, I had to keep reminding myself that the philosophies and characters were supposed to be extreme; the content was that shocking.
In my opinion, the characters were not very likeable. Well, at least not at first. The adults were terrible and quite creepy and horrifying at times. All the teenagers in this world seemed shallow & ridiculously air-headed - none of them seemed to have have an individual thought or substance to them. I must admit that I found Zen to be more real than any character in the entire story. I thought he was funny and I found myself wishing he was in the book more. I did end up liking the "pro-bump" Otherside twin, Melody, much more than the super-religious Goodside twin, Harmony. I started the book liking Harmony more because she was sweet and seemed to have a good heart. However, she quickly grew annoying and none of her actions made any sense to me once she met Jondoe. I really began to gain some respect for Melody as the book went on because she started to stand up for herself and realize that she is not okay with the life of "pregging for profit." She was strong, intelligent and I quite liked her by the end.
Near the end, Bumped seemed to finally capture my attention. I had the lingo down finally and things were getting interesting... and then the book just stopped. That's really the best way I can think of describing it; it seemed as though the story ended mid-thought just when it was finally getting started. Apparently there is going to be a sequel, but that still doesn't explain why the story finished so abruptly. Will I read the sequel? If it somehow falls into my hands, why not? I'm not going to be adding this book to my own collection, but I can see how there are those who may enjoy it. It was entertaining and funny in a this-is-so-bizarre-but-I-can't-stop kind of way. It's also an easy read with a thoughtful message: think for yourself, make your own trends and don't let anyone dictate your future for you. But what would happen if only our teenagers were able to procreate? What would we do? Would it be right to ask our teen girls to become surrogates? Would we look for another option? Though it wasn't my cup of tea, Bumped did leave me thinking about it for hours afterward - the whole idea was interesting, sickening and absolutely scared me to death.
A Favorite Quote: "Faith is accepting what makes no sense, what we cannot prove, but know down deep in our souls is real."