Bumped by Megan McCafferty
In this YA dystopia, a virus has led to widespread infertility among adults–but teenagers can still become parents. This leads upwardly mobile girls like Melody to “pregg for profit” by becoming a “Surrogette.” Her economist parents encouraged her to sign a contract promising a child to a rich couple. In this world there are no artificial inseminations, which increases the drama considerably. The twist is that Melody has a twin sister, Harmony, who was raised in a strict Christian community where the norm is early marriage rather than surrogacy/adoption agreements. When Harmony turns up at Melody’s door, she threatens to unsettle her sister’s contract, and her social life. Boys always complicate things as well, and there are three complications here: Zen, Melody’s best friend, Ram, Harmony’s fiancé, and Johndoe, the sperm donor who’s been chosen to “pregg” Melody.
This book’s inspiration from The Handmaid’s Tale is obvious. It is somewhat more lighthearted though. McCafferty imagines a world in which teen pregnancy is cool and patriotic, giving rise to a whole set of slang phrases. The silly linguistic fun of reading invented words and dirty jokes made serious is a large part of the book’s appeal. These pun-tastic jokes are used to make fun of the whole idea of teenagers using their sexuality in this unfeeling, mercenary way. The obvious sexual themes drive most of the action, and I agreed with what the book said about sex, relationships, and young women. I always like a YA book that talks frankly about sex and shows teenagers enjoying it without being utterly destroyed by it. (Maybe this isn’t as rare as I thought it was? Or this is changing as we speak, and I’m still used to the norms of the YA books I read 10-20 years ago?)
At about a fourth of the way through the book, I made a prediction, and I was surprised by the ending anyway. I liked the way Melody’s relationships with Harmony and Zen had grown by the end of the book and thought the set-up for the next book was intriguing. The sequel, Thumped, is on my to-read list.