Review: Bumped

McCafferty, Megan. Bumped. New York: Balzer & Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins, 2011. (Grades 9-12)

Melody lives in a dystopian world in which a virus has rendered everyone older than their late teens infertile. Society urges teens to have sex (to “bump”) and give birth to babies that can be adopted by married couples. Pregnancies frequently lead to bidding wars, and intelligent, attractive teens often become “repros,” reproductive professionals. Melody is just such a teen, raised by her adoptive parents to be the perfect surrogate mother. A wealthy couple has paid six figures for her to mother their child, and Melody is just waiting for them to find the perfect father.

Enter Harmony, Melody’s identical twin, who has been raised in the strict religious community of Goodside. Harmony left her safe, protected world to meet her twin face to face and convince her not to sell herself but to give herself to God instead. When the two girls meet each is forced to examine her life, her choices, her past and her future with unexpected results.

Bumped is all about choices and being true to one’s self. The theme is evidenced in the twins and Zen, Melody’s best guy pal. But perhaps it is most obvious in the character of Jondoe, the world’s most famous repro. The name itself is clearly a derivative of John Doe, society’s generic name for an unknown male, and it is appropriate for this character whose nature vacillates wildly, leaving readers unsure of who he really is or what he believes.

McCafferty does not come down firmly on either twin’s side, leaving readers to draw their own conclusions, and I made mine. I won’t be adding Bumped to my middle school collection, although high school libraries will undoubtedly find this title very popular. Lest you think me a prude, let me point out that the sexual content of the book is not the reason for my decision (Okay, so I’ll admit it did have some influence, but it’s far from the main reason!). For a book about sex, there is surprisingly little of it, though it’s talked about constantly. The only actual sex scene is brief and neither graphic nor explicit.

My decision not to purchase the book is based more on the writing itself. McCafferty has minted trendy sounding words that lend credibility to the setting and characters. However, these same words disrupt the narrative flow. I often found myself stopping to analyze and think about the words rather than the story. Perhaps that won’t bother McCafferty’s intended audience, though the conclusion should. I have no problem with sequels, but I resent writers who leave a story hanging, almost forcing readers to buy the next book. And Bumped fairly screams, “Sequel! Sequel!” The brief denouement and abrupt conclusion are both disturbing and disappointing. The closing chapters are a waterfall of revelations, rushing madly over the edge and crashing to earth where they tumble and churn but never settle. Confusing and surprising truths are revealed that change both girls’ lives, but there is no sense of finality or stability… ultimately failing to satisfy.

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About kstreet245

I'm a teacher librarian with Norman Public Schools and adjunct instructor for children's literature at the University of Oklahoma School of Library and Information Studies. I've been married to Ken since 1975, and we have two wonderful children, both married. We have no grandchildren, but instead are "owned" by three dachshunds. We are active members of Country Estates Baptist Church in Midwest City, OK, teaching Sunday School, playing handbells, keyboards, and percussion, and singing in the choir. I enjoy reading, crafts, travel, and nice, long naps when I can work them in!
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