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.