Saturday, November 12, 2011

Book Review: Bumped

Melody and Harmony are identical twins. Separated at birth, Harmony has only recently learned that she has a sister, a sister to whom she now hopes to play spiritual savior. Leaving her hyper-religious community of Goodside, Harmony travels to the Sodom and Gomorrah of Otherside, intent (it seems) on delivering Melody from the moral abomination that is commercial “pregging.” With all human beings going sterile around the time they reach legal adulthood, teen pregnancy is no longer considered a worrisome epidemic. On the contrary, it’s a highly lucrative business, where professional teen surrogates not only rake in the big bucks for offering up their procreative services, but are revered as quasi-celebrities for doing so. At 16, most girls have given birth to (and sold) at least two or three babies, but Melody is still waiting for the couple that signed her to one of the most enviable contracts in history to select her first-ever “bumping” companion. As time passes, Melody is becoming increasingly disillusioned with the bumping business, and increasingly baffled as to her sister’s true intentions for coming to Otherside.

Bumped is the first entry in Megan McCafferty’s teen book series set in the not-too-distant future. The novel reads like a cross between A Clockwork Orange and the script from Juno, although such a description is probably misleadingly flattering. Surely enough, McCafferty bombards readers with enough futuristic borderline-valley girl jargon to isolate a majority of those who fall outside of the book’s target demographic. But the real problem is the variation in voice. It’s not that the book bounces (bumps?) back and forth between Melody and Harmony on a chapter-by-chapter basis. It’s that the main characters seem to elude McCafferty herself, who is perhaps more worried about bringing her invented slang to life than she is the characters who speak it. This is especially true of Harmony, who reads very inconsistently and whose development throughout the story lacks authenticity. Melody fares much better, jelling into a solid character by the book’s genuinely interesting final third. In fact, given that the cliffhanger ending is less than tantalizing, the promise of enriched characters is the primary reason I remain open to reading the yet-to-be published sequel.


  1. Sounds like an interesting idea for a story but your review leaves me not sure I'd want to take the time to read it. A lack of character development and when I hear too much author voice really annoys me. I leave this one on the shelf for now... let us know if it gets better!

  2. This doesn't sound like the usual book you would choose. I'm curious as to why you are reading it. It sounds a bit undeveloped. I like to read symbolism. I like the names of the girls, but taking that to Otherside and Goodside for places sort of sets up a warning that the book won't be as good as it could be. It will be interesting to see if you read the next one and what you have to say about it.

  3. I really liked Melody. Take out the pregnant story line and you have the typical story of a teen who is pushed to hard by her parents to be perfect. Her parents have forced so many think of her to make her well rounded. But, nothing she does seems good enough. She's constantly belittled with comments that bring her down. I like that she's doesn't seem to behave in the typical fashion of the other character throughout this book. You can see that she wants to be more than what she's been limited to.