Bumped by Megan McCafferty. Grades 9+. HarperTeen, April 2011. 336 pages. Reviewed from ARC scooped up at ALA Midwinter.
What if only teenagers could get pregnant? The Virus has now infected about 75% of the population, rendering people sterile at around age 18-20. People who want a baby after this age will pay top dollar for a teen's baby or to hire a girl to pregg for them. Melody's one such professional, landing a six-figure contract based on her good looks, athleticism, and intelligence. But when her long-lost identical twin Harmony shows up, determined to convert Melody to the Church and save her soul, a case of mistaken identity will change both twins forever.
With tongue firmly in cheek, Megan McCafferty makes her official YA debut with this hilarious satire of the dystopian phenomenon.
Honestly, I had heard some negative feedback before picking up this book, so I lowered my expectations and then was unexpectedly delighted to find myself laughing out loud. But this isn't just a funny book - it's a biting commentary on teen sexuality and pregnancy within our culture.
I love how Ms. McCafferty plays with language, creating a completely new set of slang based on the reproductivity-obsessed world portrayed in her book. In fact, the language and slang reminded me of Feed by MT Anderson (a book I loved), although the tone is definitely different. People in this world are connected through the MiNet, an implanted Facebook-ish feed on which they can check the status of their friends and share media. Um, guys, it really seems eerily possible.
Although many teen girls feel empowered by their sudden importance to the country, Melody's been raised by her adoptive parents to be the perfect reproducer. The pressure is on for her to get good grades, excel at sports, and develop herself to be appealing to potential clients who will want her egg. Melody's never given a choice in the matter, a fact that becomes evident as we get further into the book.
Celebrity hunks are revered for their sperm and their fertility. Young girls dream of being pregnant for the money and status that the condition offers, and one can even buy "vanity bumps" at the mall. Although teen girls can now provide for themselves by signing contracts to pregg or by selling their newborns, for many it means growing up way too fast. Suddenly teens are the most important people in the world - they hold the ticket to humanity's future - and pregging opens gateways by providing funds for college and even luxuries like cars or vacations. But it's not without risks, as we learn through the book. Pregnancy still carries a risk - both physical and mental. While young girls are swept up in the status symbol that pregging provides, they're not considering all the risks.
There's tons to talk about with this book and it'll definitely be a discussion starter. The ending is satisfying enough, but it definitely leads in to the sequel.
Bumped is on shelves now!
Check out more reviews at The Reading Zone, Presenting Lenore, and Forever Young Adult.