Author: Megan McCafferty
Publisher: HarperTeen, 2011
Note: This title will not be published until Apri 26, 2011.
Set in a very near future (2035), the world of Bumped by Megan McCafferty is a world where only teenagers can have babies because of a Virus that prohibits anyone over the age of 18 from conceiving. As a result, teenagers are not only needed but enthusiastically encouraged to have lots of sex and babies. In fact, it's common for teens to "go pro," or enter into contractual agreements with older couples who want children. Preteens and young girls buy FunBumps, or fake bellies. Teens have masSEX parties that are basically orgies in hopes that the girls will end up pregnant. Popular songs talk about sperminating etc. And there is a lot of language that we would mostly find gross, but are normal here.
The main plot is told alternately by Melody and Harmony, twin sisters who were separated at birth and recently reunited with each other. Melody grew up in the pregnancy-worshiping world, while Harmony grew up in a very strict and isolated Church community where early marriage and procreation are highly valued. Melody has signed a pregnancy contract and is waiting to be paired with someone to "bump" with (you figure out what that means), while Harmony wishes to convert her newfound sister and save her soul by stopping her from doing this. As might be expected, things don't go according to plan and there are a few major cases of mistaken identity.
A lot of people have been buzzing about Bumped in the blogging world. Most of the reviews I've seen so far are lukewarm at best, but I think McCafferty deserves more credit than she seems to be getting. I think she handles the satire very well. I've read about people being uncomfortable with the glorification of sex and pregnancy, but it's not that far off from what we're experiencing in our own society. Though it might not be with explicit sex, girls are certainly gaining knowledge of sexuality earlier and earlier. If you doubt this, just take a look at this Jezebel post about Kotex's new line of maxipads aimed at 8- to 12-year-olds. No joke.
I also wasn't as grossed out by all the semen and pregnancy puns and phrases thrown around in typical conversation. In fact, the language kept me engaged in the text. I doubt many teens will be too put off by it, either—it's just a part of this world that McCafferty has created. And it's beyond clear that McCafferty is in no way endorsing sex or teen pregnancy. This is a future in which a new way of living is forced upon everyone, but most especially teens and, in particular, teen girls. Yes, it's disgusting, but that's the point.
In any case, this was a short read with a lot to say. However I was not impressed with all of it. I could not believe that this was all taking place in 2035, a mere 24 years into the future. It was easier for me to ignore this detail while reading. I also was not a huge fan with how religion is treated in the book.
Perhaps the biggest question for me is this: How does the LGBTQ community fit into this society? I'm betting teens are not allowed to be in these relationships or to explore these possibilities in their lives. It's briefly touched upon, but only very briefly. I'm pretty sure this will be explored more fully in the sequel(s), but it was something I wondered about while reading.
Bumped is not going to be for everyone, but it's not without merit. I foresee a lot of challenges in this book's future because of its content; I'm sure it will be deemed "inappropriate" by many. But I think it's worth checking out. It will certainly be unlike any of the other futuristic (I blanche only slightly from calling this a dystopia) books popular at this point in time.
Disclosure: I received an e-galley of this via NetGalley.