For What It's Worth

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Review: Bumped by Megan McCafferty

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.
From New York Times bestselling author Megan McCafferty comes a strikingly original look at friendship, love, and sisterhood—in a future that is eerily believable. (YA, Dystopian) 
I had a hard time writing a review for Bumped. It’s one of those books you finish, and then you just aren’t sure how you feel.
Whenever these dystopian novels get into the territory of young girls “breeding” it makes me squirm. What is so different about Bumped is that the young girls in question are enthusiastic participants in being “bumped”. There is a virus that makes it impossible for anyone over 18 unable to reproduce, so teens are a hot commodity for older couples. They pay teens to be surrogates to keep up with the decline in population.
Not only is teen pregnancy no longer taboo - it is encouraged and celebrated. No condoms allowed. Ads play songs with lyrics like “ You’re knocked up. Ready to pop. Due to drop” Young girls wear FunBumps so they can feel the joy of being pregnant until they really are. You can make quite a bit of money and most of the teenagers try to ride the wave while they are young enough to get enough money for college.
The story focuses on two twin sisters separated at birth who have just found each other. Melody has been raised to be the perfect baby making machine for the elite couples in society. Her parents provide her with the best education, the best activities & training to keep her in tip top breeding shape. She is a Repro that will get top dollar once her cock-jockey is chosen. Yup - I said cock-jockey....more on the lingo later.
Harmony is the twin that has been raised by an ultra conservative church family. Her mission in life is to spread the Word and save Melody and all the other Repros from their fate. She believes in procreation through marriage which all sounds fantastic but this is a world that is every bit as controlling and brainwashing as Melody’s.
Both sisters live in oppressive societies and believe whole heartedly in their respective actions. It’s an interesting dichotomy and it works....up to a point. At times I felt that there was a bit of mocking of Harmony’s faith and a hope that she would fall a bit from her chosen path of righteousness. I do understand that was not the author’s intent but it did come off that way to me a few times.
Megan McCafferty has created such a fascinating and disturbing dystopian world in Bumped yet for some reason I couldn’t quite connect to anyone.
The story kind of plunks you right in the middle and I felt like I never got a proper introduction. The language has so much slang specific to this world that it takes a while to be able to understand it. I found it very distracting at first. Almost everything is explained but often 3 or 4 chapters later and I was left confused in the meantime as to what the hell anyone was talking about. Maybe I’m just too old to read this book. It seemed that there wasn’t one word in the English language that was spared. Negative is neggy, preggy instead of pregnant, a boy you would have sex with but not procreate with is an everythingbut, you’re fertilicious instead of fertile and there are massSEX parties. I could go on and on. Again I know she is going for satire and full immersion into this dystopian world. It felt just too self consciously hip at times for me. McCafferty has said she was inspired by the recent spat of MTV teenage pregnancy shows and admittedly I don’t like watching any of them so maybe that’s why I didn’t enjoy reading about it either. Her writing is good and it’s a good story - I’m just not sure it was the book for me.
Then the last 1/3 of the book rolled around and I was glued to the pages. Finally it seemed that all the threads of the story started coming together, there was quite a bit of action and both sisters came to some big realizations. Although it took me awhile to get into Bumped, I do think I will be checking out the second book.
I think this is going to be one of those polarizing books that you either “get it” or you don’t. I’m still not sure what side I stand on.

Rating: 2.5 out of 4

Author's website:  
Twitter: @meganmccafferty
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Source: ARC provided for review from the Amazon Vine program
Buy the Book: Bumped Release date 4/26/2011


  1. I have heard mixed reviews on this book. I'm going to pass on it since the mixed reviews.

  2. Yeah...I think it wouldn't work for me. Mighty interesting concept, but to stay with something as icky as a teen pregnany culture dystopia, I'd need a couple of very loveable strong heroines.

  3. Awesome review. I actually just got done writing up my review which will be up later today. I understand where you're coming from. I liked the book but it could have been so much better. I read it once and then I actually re-read it because it went by so fast and it was kinda confusing. But it went much easier the second time around.

    I do see where you're coming from on the mocking of Harmony's faith thing. I sensed that too, even though I've read in interviews that that's not the intention, as you already know.

    I agree with a lot of your feelings. I don't use ratings on my blog, but I do rate on Goodreads, and I'll be giving this one a three. I really like the concept and it's a good story, but it just fell flat for me in some places...basically in the same places it fell flat for you. Still, I encourage people to check out this book because all of us ARE on so many different sides about it and that makes it great for discussion.

    Thanks for the honest review!

  4. I did enjoy the book, but I think that was because I enjoyed the satire. I can see your points about not connecting to anyone though. It seems like everyone was at such an extreme they were hard to relate to. I definitely liked Zen the best though. Wonderful review!

  5. Great review. I know how you feel when you read a book and you are just not sure what you think about it. I hate that feeling and I often wait to write those reviews because I can't seem to find the words to describe how I feel. You did it wonderfully with this review. Thank you for your honest opinion.

  6. I don't think I would enjoy the young pregnancy aspect. Your review kind of creeped me out, so that was probably enough for me. Thank you for being so honest.

  7. Thanks for all the comments. This is one of the few books that I haven't had a clear opinion on how I felt once I got to the end. I'm still pondering it.

  8. It was good to read your review. I've read several reviews of this book that are similar to yours. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  9. *gasps* You aren't too old. I'm thinking I'd probably struggle with this one too.

    So, wearing FunBumps becomes all the rage? How silly.

    And I've read many of the same comments about about the "slang" not really being a credit to the story. Fertilious? Gah! *runs away*

  10. "It’s one of those books you finish, and then you just aren’t sure how you feel."

    Exactly! It took me a while to figure out what to write too. It made my skin crawl but I also couldn't put it down at the end and had to know what happened. Everyone's reactions to this one are really fun to read, if nothing else, I can appreciate a story that gets people talking and voicing differing opinions:) The slang was a bit much, but I think know that I'm used to it and prepared for it, it won't bother me as much in book two. Really nice review Karen!

  11. Good review, I've been on the fence about this one. The dystopian lit surge is leaving me a little "meh" lately. When it's done well it's amazing and can comment on our own society in such a way that you find yourself going, "OHHHH." When you can't quite immerse in the world the author built, it feels a little like I just wasted a few hours I won't ever get back...

  12. I'm honestly not sure if I'll be reading this one. I'm really hesitant about the "girls as breeders" thing, like you are, and what reviews I've read so far seem to indicate that this isn't going to handle the issue as sensitively as, say, WITHER. Just the idea of the "Funbump" gives me the heebie-jeebies...

  13. Oh, I mostly read positive reviews about this one. I still have Bumped on my reading pile and will start it soon, although I am concerned that I won't like that cryptic slang. Thanks for the review:)