Book review: ‘Bumped’ by Megan McCafferty

I’m going to be straight with you: when it comes to Megan McCafferty, I am not an unbiased reviewer.

When a copy of her latest novel — and first departure from the beloved Jessica Darling series — arrived in my mailbox last fall, you could probably hear me hollering from here to California. Not to go all breaking-the-fourth-wall-and-getting-fangirly on you guys, but when I started write meg! years ago, I had absolutely no idea that I’d someday find myself in a position to receive a book like this.

And I say that not to brag. Merely as a frame of reference for — ahem — my aforementioned bias.

All of that being said, I’m never going to lie to you. When I began McCafferty’s Bumped, the first in a new young adult series, I was . . . confused. And for about 100 pages, pretty unsure.

Unsure of the story. Unsure of where this all was going. Unsure of whether I actually . . . liked this book.

It’s true. My initial reaction? Lukewarm. I wasn’t feeling a connection with the characters or storyline, which seemed outside my comfort zone and realm of comprehension. I’ve read a few dystopian books in my day, sure, and never had much trouble grasping what was happening. But this? Well. This was proving troublesome.

Here’s the rundown: in McCafferty’s less-than-ideal future, a virus has run rampant and rendered anyone over the age of eighteen infertile — both men and women. Considering no one is cheering for the demise of the human race, teenagers — the only people still able to conceive — have become hot commodities. The government has had no choice but to legalize “transactions” between prospective parents and the teens they contract to give them a child.

And you know what that means? Sexy sex sex. All the time. Everywhere. Encouraged — no, demanded — of high school students, young women and men who are now being represented by, um, “talent” agents garnering the best deals possible for the product of a union between desirable teens. Every couple wants the perfect “pregg,” of course, and those with the funds will stop at nothing to get it.

Enter Melody Mayflower, considered by many to be the perfect candidate for “bumping.” Smart, beautiful and independent, Melody was the first in her high school to “go pro” and enter a contract to conceive for money. After signing with a wealthy couple looking for the perfect offspring, Melody’s adoptive parents encourage her to keep her virginity until a suitable suitor comes along to contribute his part of the deal. And though she’d have a willing candidate in her best friend, Zen, his desirable biracial background isn’t enough to save him from his main genetic issue: he’s short.

As Melody is waiting and debating, she gets a surprise: the arrival of her identical twin, Harmony, a young woman raised in a religious order. In a future where premarital sex is glamorized and seen as a responsibility of teens, residents of Goodside shun this sinful lifestyle, marry young and reproduce within the safe confines of their own organization. Harmony hasn’t questioned the world in which she was raised until she goes in search of her twin, hoping to bring Melody out of the darkness of immorality and into the good, clean world of Goodside.

The world has other plans, of course.

McCafferty’s novel, like many others, left me at a loss for words. For all my early inability to process Bumped’s unique brand of slang and unusual circumstances, once I got the story straight and grasped the whole “pregging” situation, I raced through this one like my pants were on fire. As always, McCafferty’s wit and humor shine through in her sophisticated, sassy heroines, and I’m pleased to say that plenty of Jessica Darling’s snark and spitfire is visible in our main twin, Melody.

The world of Bumped is cleverly drawn and realistic, and what I loved best about the book was the scary way in which I could really see this happening. As a sensible-minded woman living in 2011, I can’t say that parts of the story didn’t horrify me — but I think that was the point. With songs encouraging teens to “do it,” fake “Fun Bumps” designed to show girls how their own pregnant bellies will swell and all the talk of being “fertilicious,” any adult would read this book and think, “Um, really?”

But yes. Really. It’s slightly deranged and creepy, sure, but also somehow . . . plausible. And fascinating. And addictive. That’s what made it work.

There’s so much to take in with Bumped: religious implications; moral implications; government manipulation; the disturbing way in which teen girls are used for their wombs — and not much else. But McCafferty packs it all in with humor and wit, and I was left breathless on several occasions waiting to see how the stories — and love stories — would play out.

Of course, I can’t talk about my favorite author without talking about my most favorite of her creations: Marcus Flutie. The dashing, rebellious and unbelievably hawt hero of her Jessica Darling series, Marcus has pretty much ruined me for all other literary love interests. That being said, Zen Chen-Chavez — Melody’s best friend and purveyor of giving young women “everythingbut” — is pretty swoonworthy. I love his dedication to his friends and the sweet, sensitive side we see when no one else is looking.

Is he Marcus, with his red hair, Barry Manilow obsession, swagger and sensuality? Nope. But that would have been a tall order to fill — even by the author herself. And I certainly don’t hold that against Bumped.

Was this review long enough? I think it was long enough. In summation: loved it.

Grab your copy on April 26.


4.5 out of 5!

ISBN: 0545230500 ♥ GoodreadsLibraryThingAmazonAuthor Website
Review copy provided by author in exchange for my honest review

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16 thoughts on “Book review: ‘Bumped’ by Megan McCafferty

  1. I adored this one! Like you, I wasn’t sold at the beginning. I did like that it was confusing, because I like to be thrown into a new world and not explicitly told how to sort it out, but it felt rather juvenile at first and then came the “I am reborn” moment that nearly made me stop reading. It wasn’t until the moment is further explained (avoiding spoilers) so that it was NOT an unrealistic cliche and instead something completely different and unique, that I really had my ah-ha moment and raced through the rest of the book. I can’t wait to read the sequel!!

    If you’re interested, here’s my review: http://zenleaf.amandagignac.com/2011/03/bumped-by-megan-mccafferty.html

  2. I have just been given it to review on Net Galley, so I tried not to read too much of your review. I will come back when I have finished it.

  3. Ohhhh, see, I imagined that this had more to do with science like using reproductive technology… never really thought of it as a world where teens are encouraged to make babies the natural way, LOL. Even though everyone seems to love this book I’m afraid things like that in it might bother me…!

  4. I’ll admit – I had a rough time with the Jessica Darling series because it felt really uneven to me. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to attempt Bumped. But I just finished Perfect Fifths and LOVED it, so now my faith in Megan McCafferty is restored. Bumped is on my to-read list and I’m going to promise myself to give it time and read it all the way through.

  5. I feel like I’ve been seeing press for this book EVERYWHERE. As another huge fan of the Jessica Darling books, I am counting down the days until I get my hands on a copy of Bumped! Thanks for whetting my appetite even more!

  6. It’s good to know that Megan McCafferty didn’t disappoint with this new book. She’s one of my favorite authors because of her Jessica Darling series (and because she’s the mastermind who created Marcus Flutie. Seriously, how can you NOT LOVE Marcus? That boy is so, so, so amazing and it’s a shame that he’s not real!)

  7. Hi Meg, I’m not able to comment on your (old) review of The Weight of Silence, so forgive this off-topic post here – do you know of Eye Contact by Cammie McGovern? The plot lines sound so very similar, and I’m also disturbed and suspicious about those coincidences! Not accusing anyone of copying; maybe it’s just speaking to a trend in pop cultural interests or something, but still disturbed. I so enjoyed Eye Contact I’m not sure I’m interested in Weight but glad I got to read your review. Will let you know if I pick These Things Hidden or not 🙂

  8. What a fabulous review!! There’s something about the cover that I don’t really care for, so I likely would have never investigated the book further. However! I’m pretty sure there are few things better for a book than a positive write meg! review. Now I can’t wait to read it! Thanks for sharing.

  9. okay, i haven’t spoken to you about this book and am still reserving my final judgment for review day (4/26) but must admit that the minute i received this book in january, i tore through it like a woman possessed. i think the problem was that i brought too much expectation to this book. i was looking for marcus flutie around every corner and couldn’t connect with melody to save my life. i actually felt like i fell into the book a few chapters in and struggled to understand what was flying. i’m hoping that the next time around will bring me a bit more clarity but i just didn’t feel the tension and depth of characters that i felt with the jessica darling series. listen, i love megan mccafferty so much i sent her a dorky fan email waaaay back in the day but am not convinced on this one. i kind of wish she would have steered clear of the whole dystopian thing…

  10. What a great review Meg! I still haven’t read the Jessica Darling series (they’re waiting on my shelves, I really need to get to it!) but this one has such an original idea, and you know I love dystopian stories. I’m so glad you enjoyed it, even if you were a bit lukewarm at first. I’ve had this experience before, too : some of these books I forget, some become my favorites once I have time to think back on it.

  11. I’ve seen mixed reviews on this one but I really enjoyed it. I thought it was an interesting take on teenage perceptions of promiscuity and abstinence.

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