sevenstories’ #CBR4 Review #17: Bumped by Megan McCafferty
“A virus has swept the world, making everyone over the age of eighteen infertile. Teenagers are now the most prized members of society, and would-be-parents desperately bid for ‘conception contracts’ with the prettiest, healthiest and cleverest girls – cash, college tuition and liposuction in exchange for a baby. Sixteen-year-old Melody has scored an amazing contract with a rich couple. And she’s been matched with one of the hottest ‘bumping’ partners in the world – the genetically flawless Jondoe. But her luck is about to run out. She discovers she has a sister – an identical twin. Harmony has grown up in a strict religious comunity and believes her calling is to save Melody from her sinful intentions. All Melody wants is to meet Jondoe and seal the deal – but when a case of mistaken identity destroys everyone’s carefully laid plans, Melody and Harmony realise they have much more than DNA in common.”
If you take this on face value, you would have little choice but to find it rather childishly offensive in its frank, simplistic discussion of young teenagers having sex and getting pregnant all for material gain. However, I think McCafferty was attempting to write a satirical look at our society and the way that people seem more and more willing to exchange celebrity and material gain for their bodies and lives. It’s weakness is that the satire isn’t really strong enough and it’s audience, young adults, will the most part read it straight. It’s too adult in language for children but it’s too simplistic for adult readers unfortunately. I’m not even 100% sure McCafferty was aiming for satire.
Ultimately, this was a bit disappointing as it’s such a confused book. It’s got an interesting central concept but I don’t really know who the intended audience is. Is it a satire that doesn’t quite work or is it a fluffy book for younger readers with somewhat misjudged language? Either way, it’s not super successful. But, it is easy to read and raises lots of interesting ideas, it just doesn’t deal with them in a deep enough way. The novel finishes on a bit of a bizarre moment and I’m not really sure where McCafferty will take it in the sequel, but I don’t think I’ll be reading it. I think it would have been stronger as a one off novel with a bit more depth to it (and less slang).
First Line: ‘I’m sixteen, pregnant, and the most important person on the planet.’