Guest review from Jenni at Juniper's Jungle
I haven't read much YA dystopian fiction but what I have read I've enjoyed so when the opportunity to read and review Bumped by Megan McCafferty came up I jumped at it. The synopsis really grabbed me, a virus has caused everyone over the age of 18 to become infertile so the responsibility for procreation has fallen entirely to teenagers. Society has become completely focused on these teenagers, they act as surrogates for would-be-parents and if they have desired characteristics they can be paid with anything from cash to a full college education to comestic surgery to return their body to its pre-baby state.
The story centres around sixteen-year-old twin sisters, Melody and Harmony, who were separated at birth. Melody was adopted by a family from Otherside who realised the potential she had as a surrogate and have spent the last sixteen years doing everything they can to make her a highly desirable choice. Harmony was adopted by a family from Goodside, she's been brought up in a strongly Christian society who disapprove of the choices Othersiders have made.
Melody has been contracted by a couple, they're just trying to find the perfect match to father her child. Whilst she is waiting Harmony makes contact with her for the first time, and arranges to visit. We meet them as they're just meeting and starting to find out about each other's world. Melody's world feels particularly strange to the reader, it has it's own slang and jargon and these are littered through the book. By having Harmony as a newcomer to the world we have a way in too, I found that she asked most of the questions I wanted answers to.
I really liked Melody, the further you get into the book the more layers you get to peel back. I liked the fact that whilst she was so focussed on her prospective pregnancy she was still caught up in the same issues as most teenagers - trying to defend her place within the social standings at school, and worried about who Zen, her male best friend, is spending time with. I found Harmony a little harder to identify with, she's more guarded and I didn't feel like I got to know her quite as well. I liked Zen from the first time he appeared, and found that I liked him more and more as the book went on.
There are parts of the book that are quite hard to read, this society feels so exploitative. There is one bit in particular, a long way into the book, when Melody herself comes face to face with one of the darkest sides of her world. I actually stopped reading for a little while, I needed time to think about what I'd read. I realised that the strength of this book was that however hard and dark it became it still felt believable. I could imagine how our society could have changed to become that society, and that was what made it more challenging to read.
The final few chapters really build up to what feels like a tv style mid-season finale, the first act ends on a bang and I can't wait to read the sequel Thumped when it comes out next year.
Thank you so much Jenni! Please visit Jenni at her blog, Juniper's Jungle for more great reviews.