Novel Review: Bumped by Megan McCafferty

This book had my interest years ago when it first came out in 2011. However, I had a list a thousand books deep. When I got back into reading again, I decided to look for some of the older books on my list that I’d yet to get to. Lucky for me, I happened to find the Kindle edition of this book at my local library. As usual, the blurb before the review:

Bumped Cover - Megan McCaffertyWhen a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society. Girls sport fake baby bumps and the school cafeteria stocks folic-acid-infused food.

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and have never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Up to now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend, Zen, who is way too short for the job.

Harmony has spent her whole life in Goodside, a religious community, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to convince Melody that pregging for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.

When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common.

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I just come out and say it. Overall, it was an interesting read. I started it not too long after finishing Christine Feehan’s novel. Since I wrote the review 3 days ago, I have to say I cruised through this book fairly quickly. I didn’t stop my life to finish it, as I did with my Kresley Cole reads, but I didn’t let this book linger either.

I found the premise compelling. It reminded me a lot of the Handmaiden’s Tale that’s on Hulu. Society is plagued by infertility with only a few individuals able to keep humankind going. In this case, it’s teenagers. Everything that is held as taboo when it comes to teen sex and pregnancy today is glorified in McCafferty’s book. I imagine quite a few individuals may take offense to this. In a dystopian world, I can see how values change. What would we do as a society if we knew that no other babies would be introduced into our lives if not for teens? Throughout history, select individuals have been exploited and here it’s no different. This book takes an opportunity to challenges what is right and wrong.

One critique I find common is in regards to starting a book in the place. It’s often encouraged to start it right in the middle of the action. I think McCafferty did that. However, she wasn’t as successful in doing it as she could have been. Her book started sometime after the twins met. In doing so, there was a lot of backtracking to catch us up with the story. There was also backtracking when it came to other parts of the story. For me, it was an organizational nightmare. I’ll give you an example, and this is a bit of a spoiler.

The first words in the book are “I’M SIXTEEN. PREGNANT. AND THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON on the planet.” It takes 5 chapters to find out that she’s not pregnant. Instead, she’s just trying out padding that makes her look pregnant. To me, it’s a cheap trick to create a fake and extremely forced surprise. There were also vague references to significant events that happened in the past. I know one reference was reviewed early in the book and mentioned a few times. I didn’t get the details of whatever it was until the book was probably 75% or more finished. To be honest, the reveal wasn’t that spectacular. The author could have just come out with the details when it was first mentioned. Another reference was mentioned maybe about mid-point and near the end, but I never got the details. I imagine it’ll be revealed in the next book. I don’t expect it to be worth the wait.

One aspect of the book I found weird and a bit annoying was the lingo. I know the author tried to be fresh with the talk, but it came off as forced. I’d even say unoriginal and maybe even cliche, which seems a bit of an oxymoron when trying to develop a new way of saying something. For example, she has MiTunes in lieu of iTunes. In fact, everything technology base began with a Mi instead of an i, which isn’t exactly original at all, just a cheap ripoff.

For the most part, I’ll say the storyline was good, but the presentation could have used a bit of work.

Character-wise. Both Melody and Harmony were seriously flawed, but isn’t that what makes great characters? Each had their own sense of righteousness and naivety. Melody was wrapped up in this grand idea of becoming a pro breeder. Her whole life revolved around boosting her credentials. Yet deep down, she seemed a bit appalled by the idea. Harmony was a bible thumper set on saving the world… but mostly her sister. Even as she’s condemning and spouting righteousness, she rebels against the life chosen for her. I can’t say either character was endearing. However, they were fascinating. I’m curious to follow their stories further. Not just the twins, but also Jondoe, Zen, and Ram (who had more of a cameo appearance than anything).

I give this book a 3.5/5. My library has a digital copy of Thumped. So I’m off to read the Kindle version now. 🙂

Favorite Lines:

  • “Her egg was blasted by the fastest sperm ever recorded!”
  • “And we just want to give our thanks once more for returning our potent son home to us, even if it’s just a short while.”
  • “I’m starting to agree with the ranters who think the world is overpopulated with the wrong people.”
  • “Hey, there’s nothing wrong with umping when you’re bumping. Raimundo and I went at it like crazy for the full forty-two and my first pregg didn’t come out all cock-knocked in the head.”

Children’s Review: The Boy from Tomorrow by Camille DeAngelis

It took me a bit longer to get through this book. I have to admit; I haven’t developed a taste for middle school books yet. I picked up this book because I wanted to see what’s happening in the younger world. I’ve been working a lot with children lately (grade 3-5) and wanted to get an idea of what interests them. Apparently, The Boy from Tomorrow is of some interest to children. I mentioned it in a 4th or 5th grade class I was visiting last week and they seemed all sorts of excited about it. I don’t know how the kids heard about the book, but pretty cool they’re watching for it to come out. Before I get into the review, how about the blurb?

The Boy from Tomorrow CoverJosie and Alec both live at 444 Sparrow Street. They sleep in the same room, but they’ve never laid eyes on each other. They are twelve years old and a hundred years apart.

The children meet through a hand-painted talking board—Josie in 1915, Alec in 2015—and form a friendship across the century that separates them. But a chain of events leave Josie and her little sister Cass trapped in the house and afraid for their safety, and Alec must find out what’s going to happen to them.

Can he help them change their future when it’s already past?

The description seemed interesting enough. After all, I do have a thing for paranormal fiction. It wasn’t exactly the type of paranormal I thought it’d be. It was more like the psychic paranormal versus the shapeshifters, vampires, and occasional witches I’m used to.

I don’t know what’s typical of a middle grade book. However, I found the pacing to be very steady. I’m used to the edge of your seat kind of excitement. This one concentrated a lot on the every day lives of the character. It makes me wonder if this would be classified as literary fiction, another genre I’m less familiar with.

Another thing I found fascinating about this book is the vocabulary. Often times I think vocabulary for children’s books should be simple and easy to understand. However, I found quite a few words in the book that even I had to look up. I wouldn’t save I have out-of-this-world vocabulary knowledge, but I think my vocabulary is pretty decent. I liked it, but also wonder how difficult it’ll be for children. Since I’ve been working with younger children, I often marvel over the words that are unfamiliar to them. In a day of school, I can easily find myself answering the question “What does that word mean?” when simply expressing myself in what I’d think are simple sentences. But then again, I am in Nevada. From what I hear, we have the worst schools in America. 🙂

On with the plot! As I mentioned, the plot was steady. Not slow, not fast… it just progressed. It was interesting enough for me to continue. However, the book didn’t really engross me until about halfway in. What I did like about the storyline is it didn’t shy away from the subject of abuse. The abuse wasn’t raw or even cringe worth (in my opinion). Rather it was presented in a way that I think some children, especially those who might be neglected or experience a bit of cruelty might question is the abuse is deserving or not. I liked that, because there are children out there who aren’t treat right and don’t have an example of what “normal” should be. The other showed a type of abuse that might be on the subtle side for some children. Then she clearly identified it as wrong. She set clear boundaries and an example of what a “normal” parent-child relations might look like.

The author also did away with the nuclear family, both in the 1915 story and the 2015 story. These days it seems such a rarity to find a nuclear family in their first marriage. Not that I wish to see more divorces, widows, or widowers. However, it’s nice to see the less than perfect nuclear family in a book. It makes it relatable to so many children.

Finally, the book finished strong. Camille DeAngelis did an excellent job bring the characters full circle. When the book ended, I felt satisfied. All the pieces were nicely wrapped up and brought to a conclusion. Often times writers leave me with questions… I wonder what happened with… Not this time. I can’t even imagine there being a sequel with how well the author tied the ends together.

Character wise. Alec had a pretty strong personality. I’m not sure how kids typically are at his age (12). However, he definitely knew how he wanted to be treated. He had boundaries. He also had clear expectations on the way others should be treated. That’s not to say he didn’t behave like a child. To show he was a child, he acted out a few times. I don’t recall him having any consequences for his actions though. It didn’t make him seem spoiled, or anything like that. However, it gave me the impression he lacked boundaries for his own behavior. Other than how he should be treated, I wonder if he did have a sense of right or wrong about the way he should behave, like not running away from his father.

I thought Josie, the other main character, was very realistic in her portrayal. She behaved the way I think children behave. Though she was mistreated by her mother, she still followed directions the way children do. With the rules being so different in 1915 than they are today, even the side characters seemed realistic in their behaviors. I could see neglect being overlooked more readily in that time. Truly, I was more on board with the 1915 story line than the 2015 one. Whereas as the adult seemed overly tolerant and accepting of pretty much everything in 2015, the adults in 1915 seemed to work within what was allowable for the time.

Overall, I think the book progressed nicely, but I can’t say it was overly exciting. It wasn’t a bad read for my first middle-school chapter book. I’d give it a 3.5 out of 5.

I received a free copy of this book on Netgalley.