Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bumped by Megan McCafferty

It feels like I've known about Bumped by Megan McCafferty for ages. In fact, I think right after Perfect Fifths was released. I was glad that McCafferty was moving away from Jessica Darling, because even though I was happy with the way that Perfect Fifths turned out (save for the graphic shower scene!), I was ready for Jessica to be done. Especially after realizing that I had read Fourth Comings and not remembered it. Its a bad sign that someone like me (super fan during the first two books) can forget whole books.

Anyway. Knowing that there was a total departure was great for my soul.

I read Bumped on Monday, in the Milwaukee airport, and then on the plane. It isn't long; I finished it midway through the flight. While its an enjoyable young adult book, a pretty good way to spend a couple of hours traveling, there were a few flaws.

[Spoilers follow! Ye be warned]

Bumped is about the near future, when 20 somethings and 30 somethings can no longer have children, due to a virus. The virus basically renders most people permanently infertile between 18 and 20 years of age. Society goes from (now) hand wringing about teenage pregnancy to practically forcing it upon these teenagers.

The premise of how different segments of the population have coped is told through identical twin sisters, Melody and Harmony, who were separated at birth and raised in hugely different circumstances. Melody's parents have embraced teenage pregnancy, grooming their daughter to be a breeder, scoring her a huge contract. Harmony's parents are hugely religious, grooming their daughter (and all their children) to marry young and have children as soon as possible.

Harmony wants to witness to Melody, to take her back to the church and save her soul. Page 75:
My sister is still chaste. It's not too late to protect that gift of purity, but I need to intervene right now, to tell Lib that I will endure fire raining down from Heaven before I will allow my sister to prostitute herself for procreation and profit. The best investment she can make is in God.
Melody hates that Harmony is around. Had a good life going. Has a huge birthing contract, because she's pretty much perfect and will give birth to perfect children. Her parents borrowed against her reproductive power, and now need her to become a breeder. Page 89:
This strategic reinvestment in my brand, they believed, would up my market value and put me well over the original appraisal. And when the Jayden's bid came in so strong, it looked like I would definitely earn back everything they had borrowed and more.
Melody and Harmony take turns telling the story from their points of view. While getting the full spectrum of how society has changed is great, it does have one huge downfall: character development. Bumped is only 318 pages long and has two main characters. Both Melody and Harmony undergo a huge change; Melody decides that she isn't going to be her parents breeder, and Harmony learns that God might not be so formidable as she thought.

But I didn't quite feel the transition the way I thought I was meant to. There was just a lot going on. I didn't feel I knew the characters, and didn't feel like their transformation meant as much as it was supposed to. Especially since there's going to be a sequel. I feel like there could have been a slower transition, more character development, and more time for supporting cast if it had been longer or saved some of the change for next book.

The point of the book seemed to be that you have to let teenagers decide their own lives. Which is sort of hard, because they're at that stage between children and adult, and do you really trust teenagers to make the best decision? But forcing pregnancy upon children is serious. (Hell, I believe that forcing pregnancy upon anyone is wrong, but that's another blog post!) Teenagers are tasked with, basically, saving the human race. Forcing them into marriage/birth contracts, though, is the wrong thing to do.

I will say that some of this book is absolutely inspired. The quote to the first section from the President's State of the Union Address:
The United States of America once ranked above all industrialized nations in the realm of teen pregnancy. We were the undisputed queens of precocious procreation! We were number one before, and we can be number one again! 
I also like the egg cover, especially the back cover of the egg beginning to crack.

Will I read the next one? Yeah, yeah I will. I hope that the characters are fleshed out a little bit more. And I want to meet more quirky people, like Lib. It should be out around this time next year.

[Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.]

No comments: