I discovered Bumped while looking at books on Amazon. I was bored and reading a ton of samples for fun. Because of its interesting premise, quirky jargon and slogans and the way that the twins stories are told in alternating chapters, it piqued my interest. I'm glad that it did. Bumped covers some very interesting topics: the value we place on our ability to reproduce, the ways that religion or societal expectations can effect behavior and self worth and the need to discover who you are for yourself and hold onto what you find with both hands.
Melody and Harmony are identical twins who were separated at birth. Melody was raised in Princeton by her adoptive parents, Ash and Ty. They have groomed her all her life to one day become pregnant with a specified partner so that the child conceived can then by sold for money, college funding, etc. Harmony, meanwhile, grew up in the religious community of Goodside, where thirteen year olds become wives ... and Harmony and Melody are now sixteen. Clearly, something is amiss.
Everything the girls knew is thrown into chaos when Harmony decides to break the rules within her community so that she can find Melody and try to save her soul. But is Melody the only one who needs saving...?
This book is told in alternating narratives and McCafferty does an awesome job of weaving the two plots, which start close together, branch out and then reconnect. Each "chapter" (they are named, not numbered. I would have liked numbers for 'setting the book down for two minutes' purposes, personally) is generally only a few pages long. We are never with either sister long enough for one plot and point of view to overshadow the other. That's a good thing.
I felt that Melody and Harmony both had distinct and interesting voices. There's never any question who's head you are in because their world views, ways of speaking, etc. are both totally distinct. (Personally, I liked Harmony more, but Melody slowly grew on me as she grew as a character.) The events of the book take place over only a few days, but McCafferty carefully avoids the pitfalls that could be associated with this. There is no 'insta-love' (romantically) between Harmony and Jondoe, and when Zen and Melody express how they feel eventually, it feels natural since their shared history is set up throughout the book.
There were no characters here that did not bring out some form of emotion or questioning for me. Harmony was probably my favorite, since I've studied somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty different religions. Watching her struggle with what it means to have faith, why people might choose not to have faith, and realizing that she can set the terms of her own faith, fascinated me.
Zen cracked me up. He's the kind of smart, sweet, funny guy that any girl would want to date. He's an extremely loyal friend to Melody. For a certain chunk of the book I sat there wondering if she really deserved him, but McCafferty did a good job at making their friendship -- and the tension between them because of their society -- become something I wanted to see them sort through more and more as the book continued. By the end I was overjoyed for the realizations these two came to and very satisfied with where we left them.
Jondoe was a mystery in the beginning, and remains one throughout the course of the novel. Can he be trusted? Does he really care about Harmony? Personally, I'm rooting for them (sorry, Ram.) but as it is, who knows? I've never been less certain about a couple. I like that. It makes me want to pick up the next book when it releases.
A Note About Jargon and Slang:
This book has a lot of made up words. I have a feeling that this is going to be one of those things that a reader either loves or hates. For me, it drew me in. I had no trouble figuring out what was going on as I read Bumped and did not find that the terms slowed down my enjoyment of the story. Your mileage may very, though. I strongly recommend reading the sample on Amazon.com to see how you feel about this before you decide to make a purchase.
This was another well paced, quick and interesting read. McCafferty has done a solid job at letting us into her world without turning her world building into something that bogs the story down. While the book does explore some pretty heavy questions and themes, this is not a book that is going to make you have to put it down so that you can breathe. There are a few moments where a gasp might escape or a tissue might be needed, but for the most part, Bumped is like a light, fluffy pastry that has no qualms hiding the rich filling that lies within. By turns deeply thought provoking, laugh-out-loud funny and simply delightful, I eagerly await the sequel. I must know what happens next!
Fun, well written and briskly paced, Bumped held my interest from the first page to the last, and is a book that I am certain that I will be reading again.
No need to take my word for it right now, though. The Underground is currently having a giveaway, and Bumped is one of the prizes. Enter now for your chance to win!