18 January 2012

Bumped by Megan McCafferty

When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents are forced to 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. Until 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 bring Melody back to Goodside and convince her 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.

Bumped is an interesting tale of a future society when people become infertile after their teenage years, and so teenagers are encouraged, and paid, to have children for older couples. It is told through the eyes of two teenagers, Melody and Harmony, who were separated at birth and adopted by two separate families. When they turned 16 they opened their birth records and found eachother. One is a contractual birth-mother waiting for a "male contributor" before having her first pregnancy, and the other is a spiritual girl awaiting a marriage that will allow her to have children before she is too old and becomes infertile. The two characters are very well crafted. Melody is a driven young woman who reminds me a lot of many teenagers today who are pushing to get into a great school: filling their lives with activities, creating and running school groups, hinging on grades and test scores and always being pushed by parents who want the best for them. Harmony seemed very believable as well, a religous girl who was raised by a close religious family who joined every facet of her life to religion and the missions behind it. The conflict of their intersections is a great twist, and gives very believable plot twists.

However, while I liked a lot of things about this book, I also felt there were a lot of missed opportunities and confusions. The turning points for both Melody and Harmony felt a little sudden, as if there should have been a bit more lead-up to their change of heart. While they were understandable given the backgrounds of the two girls I did feel that I wanted to see more indecision and confusion leading up to their change of heart to make it seem a little less sudden. I also felt that there were so many other angles that the author could have explored, such as the fact that girls can only have one paid pregnancy a year while boys can have hundreds, and thus have the potential to possibly get paid more due to their frequency or less due to their commonality, causing gender issues. There is also the issue of teenagers wanting to keep their baby, which is dealt with by drugging them but is only brushed slightly over in the third person as a disease rather than tackled head-on. While the issue of genetics comes up when Melody's contract is made due to her good genetics the only markers mentioned are height and beauty, leaving aside issues such as racial equality and access to income aside. Melody's large plot twist also hinges on a commodification issue that I won't spoil, but I will say I found problematic especially because it seemed to be brushed under the rug. The world created in Bumped is so rich I would have liked to see more about it and the darker sides of the issues it raised. Hopefully the author will have that chance in further books and will explore more about the problems created by having teenagers be the only fertile people in a society.

I received a copy of this book free through NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. I have since purchased a copy for my personal library.


  1. Great honest review. I skimmed through it at the bookstore, and honestly don't think it's for me.

  2. Thanks. I don't think it was really for me either. There sure are a lot of teen sex-repression/reproduction dystopians out now, aren't there?