Review: Bumped by Megan McCafferty
Author: Megan McCafferty
Genre/Pages: YA Dystopian/336
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: April 26, 2011
Rating: 2 Bookmarks (borrow it)
Nat’s One-Sentence Synopsis: Set against a backdrop of a dystopian society in which a virus has rendered everyone over the age of 18 infertile, teen girls are groomed to conceive and surrogate babies for the rest of society.
My love for Megan McCafferty’s writing, intelligence, and wit knows no bounds, as evidenced by my numerous mentions and reviews, which made writing this less-than-stellar review a challenge. (Actually, this won’t be a review so much as a lament.)
My initial response after reading Bumped was tepid at best. I put it on my nightstand and vowed to revisit it in a few weeks, savoring the book instead of just racing to the finish. In the end, I read Bumped three times but was never able to fall in love with it.
Separated at birth, recently reunited identical twins Melody and Harmony appear to be a study in opposites. Harmony, who arrives unannounced at her sister’s front door, was raised in a cultish religious community and is staunchly opposed to ‘pregging’ for profit, while her twin has been waiting to finally join the ranks of her ‘fertilicious’ peers by bumping and holding up her end of the lucrative conception contract with the Jaydens.
When Melody is finally matched up with the uber-male and perfect specimen, Jondoe, righteous Harmony refuses to sit idly by and let her sister ‘preg for profit’. Harmony’s interference sets them on a course that will have repercussions for everyone.
McCafferty promtes teen pregnancy just about as much as Jonathan Swift did cannibalism in A Modest Proposal. Readers and reviewers who feel that Bumped glamorizes sex and teen pregnancy are missing the irony. Her satirical approach works–the government’s not responsible, a virus caused the infertility–because it’s really about how teen pregnancy is marketed by the media. I don’t think she’s calling out government but is instead chiding society for gobbling up the headlines about teen pregnancy pacts, Bristol Palin, and Jamie Lynn Spears, or for watching shows like 16 and Pregnant.
Despite effectively employing satire, I thought McCafferty fell short with character development in Bumped. I wasn’t able to relate to the characters and couldn’t muster up much interest in their choices and the consequences –which is really the theme of the book. This is in stark contrast to my feelings about McCafferty’s first series, the Jessica Darling books, in which the characters were so authentic that I frequently had to remind myself they were fictional.
Additionally, the slang and vocabulary was confusing and felt awkward. While I initially read this novel in one sitting, I was only compelled to do so because it was written by one of my favorite authors. I’m disappointed that this novel didn’t speak to me but still think Megan McCafferty is one of the best YA authors out there. I’ll continue to recommend her novels to my students but hope that after writing the follow up to Bumped, she’ll jump off the dystopian band wagon and return to realistic fiction.
If you haven’t read any novels by Megan McCafferty, I’d recommend starting with the Jessica Darling series.
Here are some other perspectives on Bumped:
Steph Su Reads (review, interview, and giveaway)