Bumped by Megan McCafferty

In 2035, a virus renders everyone over the age of eighteen sterile and teenage pregnancy is not only rampant but encouraged. Sixteen-year-old Melody is still “prebump” meaning she has yet to become pregnant, but her parents are economists and have negotiated a record-breaking contract for her. Biding her time until a sperm donor can be found, Melody wants to become president of her high school pregnancy club and resents the intrusion of her newly found twin sister, Harmony, into her life.

Raised in a religious community, Harmony is determined to save her sister from teenage pregnancy and bring her to live within the community where girls are encouraged to save themselves for marriage. The virus still affects their lives but more twenty- and thirty-year-olds are able to get pregnant than outside the compound, which the community sees as a sign that God is one their side. But a case of mistaken identity destroys everyone’s carefully laid plans and forces both girls to confront the dark side of their upbringing and beliefs.

An interesting concept I was excited to read, but finishing this book was one confusing and long slog. The mark of a good dystopian novel is a well-developed world where a problem in this world is twisted to the extreme and addressed. Is the problem teenage pregnancy and the celebration of it in our culture through shows like “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom”? Or, is the problem the strict yet hypersexualized culture of fundamentalist religions? I couldn’t tell.

The long lost sisters plot is overused, but I could have overlooked it had the dystopian world and other plot points been more engaging. But because there isn’t one clear problem, the world in McCafferty’s novel is not developed to the point it should be. It would have been easier to follow had McCafferty focused on the religious aspect like Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale or if the author had better developed the world in which Melody lived. More information and details; more explanation and clear writing. For example, the slang used by Melody and Harmony — words like neggers, cock jockey, fertilicious, rilly — is over the top; difficult to understand and seemingly inserted in an attempt to show that McCafferty can “write” teenagers.

And what is this virus that renders everyone over eighteen infertile? Where did this virus come from? What is MiWorld? How does it work? If babies are so valuable, then why are girls allowed to get pregnant by their boyfriends or from group orgies? Why are there group orgies? Why are these girls not separated with their reproduction regulated? Obviously, I finished the book with far more questions than answers.

And, in the tradition of all young adult novels published lately, the book is written to become a series with a cliffhanger at the end. It’s supposed to encourage me to pick up the next book, but the muddled plot and flat, boring characters certainly doesn’t entice me to do so.

Book Mentioned:

  • McCafferty, Megan. Bumped. New York: Balzer + Bray, 2011. Print. 323 pgs. IBSN: 9780061962752. Source: PaperBackSwap.
Book Cover © Balzer + Bray. Retrieved: May 30, 2014.

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