Review: Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Title: Bumped

Author: Megan McCafferty

Genre/Pages: YA Dystopian/336

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Release Date: April 26, 2011

Rating: 2 Bookmarks (borrow it)

Source: Publisher

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:

Write Meg!

Steph Su Reads (review, interview, and giveaway)

Forever Young Adult

Phoebe North

Beyond Words

YA Fantasy Guide

14 Comments

  • At 2011.04.26 17:23, toothybooks said:

    aww. sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy this one as much as the jessica darling series. after reading the synopsis, i’m not sure if it’s something i would enjoy. although i have to admit, i’m one of those people who watch sixteen and pregnant and teen mom. what can i say, i’m drawn in by the drama and yes, i’m easily amused.

    although thanks to you, i did go out and buy the first two books of the jessica darling series. i’m hoping to get to them as soon as school ends and i’ll have some free time on my hands. 🙂
    toothybooks´s last blog post ..Review- Swept off Her Feet

    • At 2011.04.27 21:11, Natalie said:

      As a consolation, I breezed through Sloppy Firsts last night just to reaffirm my love for Megan’s writing. There is some awkward slang in that one too, but I tend to overlook it in favor of the story. 🙂

    • At 2011.04.26 19:59, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

      This book seems to be getting mixed reviews. I do have to admit that I usually don’t care for books with too much made up slang, so this may not be for me.

      • At 2011.04.27 06:38, vivienne said:

        Eeek! I have this one! You really read it three times!
        vivienne´s last blog post ..Die For Me by Amy Plum

        • At 2011.04.27 21:10, Natalie said:

          V,
          I hope you enjoy it–let me know!
          N

        • At 2011.04.27 15:19, SpilledInkGuy said:

          I’m all about awkward slang.
          Totally.
          Dude.
          😉
          SpilledInkGuy´s last blog post ..Weekly Photo Challenge- One

          • At 2011.04.27 16:34, Steph said:

            I think it’s interesting that you read this three times even though you didn’t dig it! I could never do that!

            • At 2011.04.27 21:08, Natalie said:

              Well, I typically don’t reread books before a review–I read them once and then skim them again before writing the review–but with this one I flew through it the first time, try to savor it the second, and tried to salvage my opinion of it the third. Reading it so many times in a few months speaks to just how much I love Megan McCafferty and how much I wanted to love Bumped.

            • At 2011.04.27 16:58, Dishy said:

              I too am wildly impressed that you read it three times! I haven’t done that w/ books I adore. Or if I have, it was over the course of YEARS, not days. You are a dynamo.

              Sorry it didn’t captivate the way you’d hoped. But your review is sound, and that’s what matters, right?

              XO
              Dishy´s last blog post ..Karen’s Apple Kugel Revisited

              • At 2011.04.27 21:09, Natalie said:

                A dynamo? I’m not the one slaving away in the kitchen in the name of lo-so cooking! I’d love to have an 1/8 of your energy, especially when it comes to cooking and home improvement projects.

            • At 2011.04.28 20:28, Jenners said:

              Well, I might skip this one and check out her other books but I have to say I just love the phrase “pregging for profit.”
              Jenners´s last blog post ..The Post In Which I Realize Again That Blogging Takes A Lot Of Time

              • At 2011.05.06 11:52, kay said:

                First, I have to admire your dedication to reading three times a book that you didn’t enjoy much!
                I started reading Bumped last night and had an awful time getting into it, because, as you said, of the slang and vocabulary. There is just too much of it too quickly!
                I don’t know if I’ll end up liking the book or not, but I promise if I don’t, I’ll still give the Jessica Darling series a try!
                kay´s last blog post ..Review – Married with Zombies

                • At 2011.05.22 15:05, Jennifer said:

                  I was so excited to have another McCafferty masterpiece when this book came out but I still haven’t been able to finish this one. I want to love it, I really do. The writing is still crisp and witty, but I agree with you about the characters. I’m thinking that I could learn to love Melody a bit more, but then she does something stupid. I guess I should finish the book before making any final judgments. But I am in agreement that McCafferty still is a writing genius. I will forever love Jessica Darling. I am constantly recommending them and rereading them. They are just that good.

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