Bumped, by Megan McCafferty.
I check once more for anyone I know, then blind my MiNet with a blink-left-right-left-wink-double-blink. The song is wrapping up - You're the most important person on the plaaaanet ... Babiez R U!" when I'm startled out of my reverie by the sound of my own voice.
I've been so focused on my expectant spectacle, I forgot that I'm not alone in the dressing room. Standing directly behind me is Harmony. Until a few weeks ago, we had never spoken. And until a few hours ago, we had never met in person.
She's my identical twin.
This book is a dystopian novel, but unlike any other I have read before. It's not all doom and gloom; it's actually fairly normal, for the most part. Melody is 16 and attends a prep high school, and is hoping to get into Global U, one of the most prestigious colleges around. She lives with her parents, and was adopted when she was a baby. She has a best friend, Zen, with whom she shares a mutual attraction. At school, she has other friends whom she hangs out with as well.
The difference: about 50% of the girls at her school are pregnant, and the rest are hoping to get pregnant.
The reason? A virus has made people 18 and over, for the most part, unfertile, so wannabe parents pay these girls to get pregnant. Melody signed a contract two years ago that includes full college tuition, a car, and other goodies, but she hasn't been matched yet with a suitable boy, or "bumped," as they call it. (I'm thinking this came from the phrase "bumping uglies," a euphemism for sex, but I'm not entirely sure)
One of her best friends, Shoko, is almost ready to pop, and Shoko is an "amateur" that turned "pro" - now, she gets paid to get pregnant BEFORE she actually GETS pregnant, while the "amateurs" copulate first and then hope to find a suitable family.
Melody has been groomed her entire life for this, and is more than ready to get bumped ... until she meets her twin sister, Harmony, who has lived in Goodside her entire life (similar to an Amish community - they don't use electricity, they get up early to do household chores, and they dress very modestly). At Goodside, they can be paired with a husband as early as age 13, and Harmony has just married Ram, but hasn't yet "consummated" the marriage with him.
Melody is finally matched with the famous 17-year-old Jondoe, one of the most popular sperm donors around, but it's Harmony who actually meets him when he comes to visit and leaves the house with him, and she doesn't tell Melody that she has been matched. Melody finally figures it out later when her MiNet is blowing up with comments about her and Jondoe, and how they were sighted out at all the popular spots.
The novel really jumps into Melody's world without really explaining anything, but you will soon pick up the lingo used. "MiNet" is like Facebook, but with a GPS tracking system too, and if you want to "go blind" so that people can't tell where you are, you have that option. Goodside is basically like an Amish community, in that they aren't allowed to leave it (bad Harmony!) and there are many things that are expected of them there. The novel is set in the 2030s, I believe, because it was around the year 2020 that the virus struck (all of the girls in the novel have the virus, but onset is not until they are 18, it seems), and the drink of choice is "Coke '99," which I am guessing is similar to the Coke we drink today. They stopped making condoms around the year 2025, so now when people have sex they do it solely to procreate, for the most part.
Melody would secretly like to "bump" with her boy best friend, Zen, but he is "vertically challenged" - only 5'7", her height. Future parents only hire "the best of the best" genetically to bump, for the most part, and although Zen would definitely fulfill the intelligence requirements, he does not fulfill the physical requirements, such as height. Parents also try to pick donors who look like themselves, so that their baby will bear a resemblance to them.
The lingo and the beginning of the book is a bit overwhelming, but once you get into the book you won't want to put it down - I read it in 1 day.
McCafferty is currently at work on a sequel, called Thumped, which will be out in April 2012. I am looking forward to that because she definitely left the end of Bumped "up in the air," so to speak.
4.5 stars out of 5.