Friday, December 20, 2013

Review: Bumped

Bumped
By Megan McCafferty
Balzer and Bray April 2011
323 pages
From the library

Bumped (Bumped, #1)

Melody and Harmony are identical twins, but they have never met. As infants, they were given away to two very different adoptive families - Melody is placed with parents who do everything in their power to ensure their daughter succeeds and Harmony becomes a member of a devout religious order known as Goodside. When Harmony discovers that she has a twin sister, she leaves the only home she has ever known to find the sister she desperately wants to know. The girls live in a future where women over 18 are barren and teen girls became famous for their ability to "preg for profit" and give children to the most wealthy and famous individuals. Melody is on her way to become one of the most famous surrogates, but Harmony believes that having a child for money is a sin. Their clashing beliefs and choices will change their lives forever.

I had a very hard time relating to either Melody or Harmony. It seems satirical, but it felt as if Ms. McCafferty took the most extreme versions of obnoxious teen and obnoxious religious zealot and tried to make characters out of them. It drives the reader a little crazy, especially when nothing happens in the first few pages except for a ridiculous trip to the mall where teenager girls are, of course, obsessed with boys, shopping, and social media.

However, after a slow start, the writing does carry these caricatures through a pretty interesting story. The concept of teens having babies in order to sell them and secure their future seems simultaneously horrifying and not that far from our current reality. Teens have lots of sex and then broker a deal with adoptive parents so the teens can go to college or buy their first apartment. Beautiful and intelligent teens are represented by talent agents who will find the perfect partner to make the most appealing infant. Popular music encourages teens to "bump" and stores sell prosthetic baby bumps. McCafferty succeeds at creating a very fascinating (and terrifying) world and carrying her readers through it with aplomb.

But I still missed something with the characters. I get the satire of it all, but it makes the girls hard to connect with and I didn't understand how they came to make their decisions. Through the events of this book and their new relationship, both Melody and Harmony come to rethink their beliefs about family, love, sex, and "pregging." I missed the moment that made them change beliefs that they had held for their whole lives.

Bumped is an interesting concept well-executed by a talented writer. But the danger with satire is that we lose empathy for and connection with the characters. I wanted more from Melody and Harmony and I'm not convinced that I will be picking up the sequel. 

4 comments:

  1. I agree with you about how important characters are...if I don't like the characters, I'm probably not going to finish the book. Life is just too short to spend time on disappointing books.

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    1. Fair enough! I don't think they have to be likable characters, but they do have to be believable.

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  2. I've read a few reviews of this book and I'm really on the fence.

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    1. I think it depends on how you feel about satire/YA/the concept of this sort of society. If you are really interested in one of those, go for it. Otherwise, I might save my shelf space for something else.

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