October 08, 2011
Bumped by Megan McCafferty
I had seen several comments on what a great book this is. Naturally I was curious, especially considering it is a dystopian novel, one of my favorite genres. What I found was a very great idea, that was not so wonderfully executed.
Sometime in the future, things have changed very much. Due to a virus that has spread the world round, it has become very rare for people over the age of twenty to be able to breed. So rare in fact that a booming business has opened up for teenagers looking for a way to pay for college. They can hand over babies for cash, or for the more talented ones, get hired on as a "repro" to produce babies professionally. In a lot of these instances, they don't even pick who they get to "bump" with, after all, its just business. This is especially true for Melody. Since her adoption at birth, her parents have groomed her to be a professional repro, and she's on the verge of landing a very big contract. But things get a little complicated when her sister Harmony decides to visit from Goodside (a church oriented enclave that while still believing in teen pregnancy, has them marry first). Harmony's motives appear to be to convert her sister to the wonders of God, but then when she runs off with Melody's repro partner, things get a little more complicated.
Melody was a character I actually liked. Since the book is told from her and Harmony's perspective, we get to see a lot of her. And she is genuinely smart; she thinks about things and analyzes them and has a very direct thought process the reader can follow. Harmony on the other hand, is a hypocrite, even in her own head apparently. Normally I could handle someone saying and then doing something completely different from her beliefs as a way of deception, but in Harmony's case, we are told things from her perspective so she is apparently deceiving herself. The weak excuse given for her changes in thoughts and ways is that he looked like "Jesus" to her; which obviously I don't find very compelling. The other characters weren't given a lot of time and it was interesting to see that lack of adult interaction in this book. Apparently the adults were all very conveniently away on trips and the like.
For the plot this book moved very slow to me. In fact, it only started getting exciting and actually making me want more in the last few chapters. Before that, it was quite boring and while I thought the whole concept of the novel was interesting, I think it could have had a better plot. I do have to applaud the author on her use of language in this book. While I actually found it annoying, it was very realistic. Linguistically she took the traits of teens popular phrases and adapted them to the ideas her novel presented and she did it very well. She also made a natural progression in technology in her MiNet which is like a facebook that goes with you anywhere you go. Some of her other technology ideas though were a little shaky. I'm pretty sure that in her future, in order to procreate at all, it had to be done physically, and not in a petri-dish because of the virus. I'm no scientist, but I couldn't figure out the logic behind this.
Overall I did think this book showed promise. I was surprised to see that the ending was set up for a next book or series of books so I probably will take a look as I'm interested in seeing what happens. Considering I thought this was a stand alone book to begin with it does present for some hopefully interesting reading in the next book.