Friday, April 22, 2011

Bumped by Megan Mccafferty

The story takes place in the year 2035.  In the attrition laden U.S. of A, a virus has flamed through the population and, by the time a person is around 18 years old, they are no longer virile.  The only people who can have babies are those who have reached adolescence but not obsolescence (I may have not spelled that one right) or sterility.

At the moment, there are three kinds of teens and their attitudes regarding babies: 1) teens bumping with people they know (not necessarily who they love) to get pregnant and give their babies up for adoption to a couple who can't have them, 2) teens who have gone pro - for a large sum and more perks than imaginable, they will have sex with whoever the couple dictates to get pregnant, carry the pregnancy then get paid off and 3) the Churchies - think fundamentalists that dictate how all their members think, feel, and marry.  Very controlling.

So it is rare that a couple who actually couple (ahem) together will raise the babies they birth.  So 16 years ago, identical twin girls were dropped off at a hospital.  They are the protagonists of this story.  Melody is completely pro.  Her parents have been grooming her for all of her 16 years to birth to the highest bidder.  She is drop dead gorgeous and talented to the highest degree.  Her test scores in all areas are perfect.  If they are not perfect, they are near perfect because her parents have her regimented beyond imagination.  Although she is 16 and really should have popped out at least one or two kids by now (based on her childbearing window), she is contracted by a couple and will have sex with whoever they choose to be the sperm donor.  She is the first girl in her school to go pro even though she hasn't yet consummated with anybody.

Harmony, Melody's sister, is a Churchie.  She reads her bible every day, has prayerclique with her house sisters and brothers and marries whoever the church leaders tell her to.  They are to never question the rules or the coupling.  Never leave the gates except to be missionaries or for agricultural needs.  Cover up their skin and be chaste.  But Harmony shows up on Melody's doorstep (facespace) with unclear intentions.  Not a good time since Melody's partner is about to be announced and the identical twin thing just might impact her price.

Intriguing dystopic idea.  In and of itself, disturbing that only teenagers can make babies which forces the issue of surrogacy, health concerns, casual sex, and all the other problems with current teenage pregnancy (except STD's.  Although HIV is obliterated, the other viruses are not mentioned even though the cheer clones have no standards).  The writing style flows and is well developed.  It's not Jane Austen or John Grisham.  It is clearly geared toward youth.

Cringe-worthy are the extremes.  The Churchies are not moderated; there is no in between.  If you believe in marriage, love and monogamy, you are a Churchie who lives apart from the rest of the world and do only as you are told and, in some religious pockets in the country, exists.  The other extreme is the idea of sex without intimacy or commitment.  Even the teens who get knocked up by a significant other do not view their own pregnancies or couplehood as a family unit.  Family takes on a new and bizarre meaning.  That whole scene is like high school health on steroids.  Ick.

It is the first in series and ends in a cliffhanger.  I liked the story development without the cringe-worthy aspects.  I loved the way Jondoe turns out to be more complex and I definitely saw the Zen connection.  The resolution of the complications will prove interesting.  I will not provide the spoiler that I am totally dying to give regarding mistaken identity nor will I let on whether or not THAT is consummated.

I am mature.  Sort of.

1 comment:

Beth S. said...

I'm reading this one right now and it's been slow-going for me. I really enjoyed your review. Probably one the best explanations of the premise I have read so far. Thanks!