BUMPED (Bumped #1)
Balzer + Bray
Available April 26th
Received from author for review
Teenage girls are currently the most important members of society. A virus has rendered everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, so desperate couples are now forced seek out young women, sign them to often impressive monetary contracts, and choose a young man for them to "bump" with so they have as much control over the offspring as possible.
Melody is one such teenager. Signed to a six-figure contract several years ago, she is still awaiting the choice of a partner so she can finally fulfill her end of the deal. She was one of the first girls to go professional in her school, and now she's one of the few that has yet to bump with anyone. To make things worse, her long lost twin sister Harmony shows up at her door to convince her of the sin she's about to commit by getting pregnant for profit.
However, when Harmony is mistaken for Melody and meets Jondoe, the hottest reproduction professional around and Melody's newly chosen partner for her contract, the lives of both sisters are irrevocably changed. Their eyes start to open for the first time and they begin to realize the separate worlds in which they were raised are perhaps worlds they no long wish to be a part of.
Bumped presents us with a world that feels utterly foreign, not due to the use of futuristic technology or the creation of an environment we can't possibly picture existing, but rather due to the thought processes of the individual characters themselves. This story is both appalling and absorbing–a mesmerizing reveal of a situation that leaves us wondering as to the lengths humanity will go to ensure its survival, and we read on in abject horror as we realize this world has grown to view the prostitution of its children as both normal and necessary. We laugh at the quirky sayings on t-shirts and the humorous rhyming lyrics of this world's popular music, but the smile quickly drops from our faces as we come to fully comprehend just what these catchy phrases are promoting and encouraging, and we find ourselves rubbing our arms to smooth the hairs that have stood on end at our realizations. Bumped is bothersome and intentionally uncomfortable, the disturbing nature of its society presented in a lighter way due to the aforementioned humor, but all the more unnerving as a result of this approach.
Melody is the character with whom it's easiest to relate, her six-figure contract to the Jaydens keeping her from getting tangled up in the sexual frenzy of her peers, and her innocence on that front is something we feel almost protective of as we will her to see herself as more than a purchasable baby incubator. She continues to earn our respect as the horrors of her reality begin to sink in, the absurdity of her classmates' and her parents' obsession with pregnancy becoming a recognizable problem to her as opposed to an acceptable way of life. By the end, Melody exercises some semblance of control over her life, leaving us with something in which to take comfort as we face the seemingly insurmountable flaws plaguing the way of thinking in this world.
Harmony, however, is a bit more problematic of a character. Her fanatical religious upbringing forces her to try to help others see the error of their sexual ways, resulting in mannerisms and phrases that are a bit much to deal with even though we know they are purposely over the top. While she, like Melody, seems predisposed to accepting that the expectations placed on her are perhaps not as much in her best interest as she originally thought, it's difficult to fully believe she is capable of having the profound effect on both Melody and Jondoe that she does. She leaves a memorable and lasting impression on both of them in a very short period of time though she speaks very little to either of them, and she succumbs to Jondoe's numerous physical talents with a little too much ease for a girl raised under the strict belief that intimacy outside of marriage is a sin. She may have a rebellious streak in her thought processes to match Melody's, but it seems she abandons what she's known all her life within just a few short days, managing to topple Jondoe and Melody into that churning sea of change with her though we as readers are left a little baffled as to how she accomplishes such a feat.
Bumped will certainly be a challenging read for many due to the discomfiting nature of a world where young girls sell the use of their bodies with the full support and encouragement of society, but for those who love the dystopian genre and don't mind the presentation of a haunting and horrifying future, it will be a quick and entertaining story. It's a book that will certainly inspire a wealth of differing opinions, ensuring that it will never be placed on a shelf and forgotten but will rather slither into our subconscious long after we've read it, raising new questions and eliciting new emotions with each remembrance.