Bumped tells the story of two identical twins, Melody and Harmony, separated at birth in a dystopian society that prizes fertility above all things. For good reason, as a mysterious virus has cut fertility rates down dramatically all around the world. Most people aren't able to conceive after the age of eighteen, which makes children frighteningly scarce and pregnancy the prized work of the small adolescent population that remains.
Despite the fact that Melody and Harmony look exactly the same, their widely divergent upbringings have turned them into two startlingly different people. Melody has been groomed by her rationalistic parents to be a role model of professional fertility to her peers. Harmony was raised by an isolated religious group whose traditions set her apart for marriage at the age of thirteen. In their own ways, they each rebel internally against the values and expectations of those around them, questioning both society and their own place within it. The challenge becomes whether or not, when the time comes for them to follow the rules, they will do as they've been taught or change the way things are.
In many ways a pretty straightforward dystopian set-up, the book is unique for a number of reasons. For one, it's the most charming and playful dystopian novel I've ever read. Like Feed without any of the despair. And more girls. And pregnancies.
But the best thing about it is the characters. Melody comes across as a pretty typical YA heroine, strong and conflicted, beautiful but without any of the ego that usually comes with that, on the verge of deciding to disrupt the inevitable course of her life with her own free will. She's great to read. Harmony is another matter altogether. A stereotypical fundamentalist whacko, as the chapters unfold, she goes from being more-than-slightly bizarre to becoming utterly fascinating, as the things she has been taught do battle with the things she most deeply cares for. I was very happy to see that the "churchy" background she comes from is never portrayed as any more messed up than the "Otherside," or the secular world, of which Melody is a part. Both are figured as two of a variety of extremes that could plausibly develop out of a society struck barren at the age of eighteen.
I read Bumped on my brand spanking new Kindle Fire, because it was priced rather magically at only 99 cents. I would highly suggest you read it before the release of Thumped, currently scheduled to be hatched on April 24th, 2012.