Book Review: Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Title: Bumped
Author: Megan McCafferty
Genre: YA dystopian fiction
Publisher: Balzer and Bray
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Source: E-galley from Netgalley
First line: I’m sixteen. Pregnant. And the most important person on the planet.

In a future where the Virus causes all adults to lose their fertility between the ages of 18 and 25, teenage girls sell their fertility to the highest bidder. Melody has been raised by parents who value her only for her ability to make a good match with a professional impregnator and to bring wealth into the family. At age sixteen, Melody should have already “bumped,” but she hasn’t and is now known as a “virg on the verge” – virgin on the verge of infertility. To complicate things even more, Melody’s twin sister shows up on her doorstep, and an identical twin could mess up Melody’s “uniqueness potential.” Harmony has left Goodside, the religious community where she was raised, in order to convert Melody and convince her of the error of her ways. But when Harmony meets Jondoe, Melody’s “sperm donor,” things change drastically for both girls.

After reading several reviews of Bumped, I know that my opinion is in the minority. Many bloggers have completely adored this work of dystopian fiction. I, however, did not. There are two reasons – one of which has to do with the writing, and which I’ll address first.

One of the things that I love about truly well-written dystopian fiction is the world-building. I am very particular about the amount of world-building the author includes. There can be too much (i.e. Incarceron) to the point that the story drags, or too little (i.e. The Wind-Up Girl) and then I feel like I’ve been dropped into a world with no foundation, nothing to ground myself on as I read. In my opinion, Bumped falls into this later category.

The author does create a new vocabulary and reality for her characters, but no real history to the future she has created. There was too little information about the Virus and the reason why society had become so vastly divided between Goodside (the religious community) and Otherside (the rest).

The second thing I disliked about this book bothered me for a more personal, less objective reason. I understand that the author was showing how a girl’s sexuality had become a commodity and thus removed the negative image of being promiscuous. I do think, though, that she could have shown this through the writing and the world-building without resorting to the crude way in which she did this. The language is raunchy – using words that I wouldn’t quote here. I know this probably won’t bother a lot of readers, and so admit that I’m not exactly giving you an objective opinion. McCafferty deals with a similar dystopian future to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and while Atwood’s book may be more explicit in its sexual content, the writing didn’t make me feel like I needed to take a shower after reading it.

I finished Bumped today, and it ended very abruptly. In fact, as Harmony and Melody started to change because of the time they were spending together, I found myself thinking, “Okay, maybe I’ll like the rest of this book.” And then I looked at the page count and realized I was three pages from the end. So just when I started to enjoy it, it was over just like that – and ended on a huge cliff-hanger. I don’t think I’ll be reading book number two in the series.

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15 Responses to Book Review: Bumped by Megan McCafferty

  1. Heather @ Book Addiction
    Twitter: BookAddictHeath
    says:

    I’m disappointed to see that Bumped didn’t work for you, Carrie. I just started reading it yesterday and can definitely see your point in regards to the world-building. It’s reminding me of Feed by M.T. Anderson in the respect that the reader is expected to just understand this world without much background. I am only on page 30, though, so we’ll just have to see what I think…

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Heather – Now that you say that, it reminds me of Feed, too! And I liked Feed okay, but it didn’t wow me.

  2. Kailana says:

    I am sorry this didn’t work for you. I am rather curious about it, personally, but that’s about it at the moment. I might read it if my library gets it, but one never knows where my mood will take me. 🙂

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Kelly – well, everyone else seems to love it, so it might just be me. 🙂

  3. Kate {The Parchment Girl}
    Twitter: parchmentgirl37
    says:

    Sounds like this is not the book for me. It’s a shame the language was so raunchy. Unnecessary graphicness can really ruin a book. Thanks for the honest review.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Kate – you’re welcome! I agree – I hate unnecessary raunchiness.

  4. bermudaonion (Kathy)
    Twitter: bermudaonion
    says:

    I don’t read a lot of dystopia and after your review, I suspect this one’s not for me.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Kathy- if you ever decide to give some dystopian novels a try, there are a lot better ones than this to get you started. 🙂

  5. Beth F
    Twitter: BethFishReads
    says:

    I doubt the language would bother me as much as it bothered you, but I like good world building.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Candace – it’s funny, cause I’ve read adult fiction books with a lot of language before and it didn’t really bother me – but when it was so tasteless and coming from teen girls in a YA novel – I don’t know, it just bugged me. Definitely a personal thing – which is why I differentiated between the two problems I had with the book. I know I’m not really objective about that area. 🙂

  6. S. Krishna
    Twitter: skrishna
    says:

    While I do love Megan McCafferty, the idea that there is little to no worldbuilding in this book bothers me. I agree with you when you say that worldbuilding is your favorite aspects of dystopians. I still will give this book a chance, but I think I’ll put it aside if it’s not working for me.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Swapna – it’s funny, cause it doesn’t have to be a lot of world-building, just the right amount and the right type, well-written. I read Wither right after Bumped, and although she didn’t take up a lot of pages with world-building, I still had a much better sense of place than in this one.

  7. Marg
    Twitter: MargReads
    says:

    OH no. I had high hopes for this one. I have a netgalley copy to read soon.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Marg – well, like I said, I seem to be in the minority – a lot of people really love it, so maybe you will, too. 🙂

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