(#32) Book Review: Bumped by Megan McCafferty

In the not-too-distant future, a virus has made everyone over the age of eighteen infertile.  People pay teenage girls to get pregnant and give birth as Surrogettes, and this has made teens quite the hot commodity.  The better one’s genes are, the more money a girl can potentially earn with each pregnancy.  Going professional means entering the highest echelon of society, and that is exactly where Melody’s parents want her.  They’ve groomed her for it, and she’s days away from bumping with an equally-desirable boy.

When Melody meets her long-lost identical twin sister Harmony, the two girls realize that each of them has been living a life in complete opposition to the other.  While Melody has spent her life preparing for her role as a Surrogette, Harmony has been living a quiet, chaste life in religious Goodside.  The two girls could not be more different, but as they get to know each other, they start to feel a sort of affection for one another.  The entrance of Jondoe, a professional sperm donor, complicates things, and both girls will have to make some hard choices.

Hailed as McCafferty’s first official YA novel, Bumped is not the next Jessica Darling novel.  Fans of McCafferty’s awesome and hilarious series should know that going into this one.  Where the Jessica Darling novels were grounded in reality and humor, Bumped is an incredibly satirical look at the present state of our culture and the sexploitation of young girls.

McCafferty is at her best when allowing her natural humor to show through.  She’s a sharp, funny writer, and her observations about culture are astute and spot-on.  Although the jargon starts to wear a little thin as one reads through the story, the underlying purpose is clear and it never feels completely gratuitous.  There isn’t a ton of world-building, which will frustrate some readers, but there’s enough so that one never feels too lost.

Told in alternating perspectives between Melody and Harmony, it was sometimes difficult to remember who was who, even though the girls have very different personalities.  Both girls are smart and articulate and driven in their own ways.  One wouldn’t expect anything less than some strong female characters from McCafferty, though.  Unafraid to tackle sex straight-on, this book deals with teen pregnancy and teen sex in a real way while also keeping its satirical edge.

Although it starts off slow, readers who can get past the first 50 pages or so will be rewarded.  It’s a fun read on the surface with some deeper meaning hidden below.  An examination and critique of pop culture are present here, and McCafferty is sure to delve even deeper into those issues with the follow-up, which she is writing  now (yes, there is a little bit of a cliff-hanger).

Bumped hits shelves on April 26, 2011.

Bumped by Megan McCafferty, Balzer + Bray, 2011. Electronic galley accepted for review.

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