In the dystopian world of Bumped, a virus has destroyed people’s ability to reproduce after their late teens, so teen pregnancy has become a valuable commodity. Teens are getting pregnant as young as eleven. Stores sell “fun bumps” where you can wear different-sized pregnant bellies (with real moving parts to simulate fetal movement!). Slang is all pregnancy-oriented. Fast food is packed with pregnancy vitamins. And so on.
Sixteen-year-old Melody has contracted out to get pregnant for an infertile couple and is now just waiting for them to choose a father. Harmony is Melody’s identical twin sister. The two were separated at birth, and Harmony has been raised by a church community who believes pregnancy-for-profit is a sin and prefers instead to marry children off at age 13 in order for them to have children before they can’t. Melony knows nothing about this twin sister, and is surprised when Harmony shows up on her doorstep determined to get her to stop “pregging for profit.”
This was a fantastic book. I’ve been completely burned out on YA lately, especially YA dystopia, but I decided to make an exception for Bumped. I’m so glad I did. McCafferty took an idea that is frowned upon in our society (teen pregnancy) and made a world that treats it like its salvation. It shows just how strongly circumstance is attached to our ideas of right and wrong. Even the church world in this books believes it is okay for thirteen-year-olds to get pregnant – as long as they are married first. On both sides of the debate, it’s okay and even good for kids to get pregnant. The only difference in viewpoint is in how the kids should get pregnant. Kid pregnancy is an accepted practice by everyone.
This is a unique dystopia in that it doesn’t involve a hostile or overly-extended government. Most dystopias involve a people versus the government sort of dynamic, but Bumped was more of a corporate and cultural dystopia. The people in this world have made their own problems. There’s a lot to be said on the extension of the more extreme aspects of American commercialism here. It was really interesting to see a world that had brought itself to this place rather than being forced to it by gunpoint.
Another great thing about this book is that it doesn’t endeavor to explain the whole world to the reader up front. The characters use slang specific to their world, eat food filled with fertility or pregnancy vitamins, and go to stores that cater to pregnancy. It’s difficult to understand some of what’s happening and what the characters are saying until you’ve spent enough time with the culture to figure things out. There’s no huge info-dump for world-building. McCafferty finds ways to make things clear without the book or characters ever feeling unnatural. I was very impressed by that.
Bumped comes out on April 26th, and I do have to warn you – it’s not a standalone novel. There will be a second book (one for each twin, I’ve heard), and Bumped does cut off right in what feels like the middle of the story. I read this on my iPad and had no idea that I was turning the last page when I turned it. I turned to the acknowledgements and couldn’t believe it was over. I wanted the second book NOW. It’s been a really long time since I felt like that about a series of any sort. This is one I definitely want to read the rest of! I have to know what happens to all these characters.