The United States of America once ranked above all industrialized nations in the realm of teen pregnancy. We were the undisputed queens of precocious procreation! We were number one before, and we can be number one again! -- President's State of the Union Address
Jondoe, one of the lust interests in Bumped, thinks he's God's gift to women. In fact, this professional 'breeder' calls himself a missionary. But I'm rushing things, perhaps?
Bumped is a dystopian novel (that I hated). The 'what if' of this one is quite simple. A virus has left almost all women over the age of 18 or 19 infertile. Since couples are unable to have their own children, those that want a family are desperate to adopt. Some couples become very involved in the process. They choose the surrogate mother, they choose the father, they have a contract written up. And of course, a price is agreed upon. The teens that sign a contract are 'professionals.' Of course, there are still plenty of 'amateur' teens--young women getting pregnant with their boyfriends or with random guys they hook up with at wild procreation-themed parties.
Melody Mayflower, our sixteen year old heroine, has been hired by a couple to have a baby. But the couple hasn't decided on the father yet. Melody is still waiting to hear the final details from her agent. And Melody has recently had another surprise. An identical twin sister showing up at her house, a sister who is anxious to get to know her, to bond with her.
Harmony has been raised in a Christian community. Or should I say a "Christian" community? Quite honestly, I'm not sure if Harmony is the best representative of her community. And I'm not sure Harmony's thoughts on her community are true and trustworthy. In other words, I don't trust Harmony even on the tiniest things. She may claim to "have God." But. I reject Harmony as a reliable narrator. I reject Harmony as a witness for anything remotely resembling Christianity. (I've read that some find her too preachy, too fundamental, too judgmental. I have the opposite complaint. I don't find her "faith" to be genuine enough to go beyond mere words. I don't find her faith to be deep enough, real enough. I wanted her to be CLOSER to God. Instead of just claiming to "have God" and vaguely going through the motions. She mentions she has doubts and questions about the faith--about what she's been taught. But. I found her "seeking" to be more about her than God.)
Zen and Jondoe are our 'lust' interests for lack of a better word. Though I must say that what Melody comes to feel for Zen and what Zen feels for Melody goes beyond just lust. I do think that they are falling in love with one another. Even though Melody's contract comes into great conflict with her own potential love life. How do I feel about Zen? Well, it's hard to judge him without comparing him to Jondoe. Compared to Jondoe, Zen is definitely a much better guy, a much better character. This doesn't mean he's perfect or flawless. Or even that he helps redeem the novel. (I don't think he and Melody can. I think Harmony and Jondoe definitely ruin what chance there is to even slightly like this one.)
So who is Jondoe? He's a professional. He's arrogant. He's "the chosen one" hired to impregnate Melody Mayflower. But it isn't Melody who's at risk. No, it's Harmony, the supposed "good girl," who has the most to lose when she accidentally-on-purpose meets him in her sister's place.
Who do I hate more? Jondoe or Harmony?! Harmony who claims to "have God" yet twists Scripture to suit her own lusty desires while fantasizing that Jondoe is the Alpha and Omega and "the Jesus of my dreams" (76, 84). Harmony who sings a "worship" song for Jondoe on the guitar and gets herself all hot and bothered (131). A song supposedly about loving Jesus. (Though I must admit it would make a poor excuse for a worship song. I mean there is nothing of substance in it, it is very generic and meaningless. The kind of song that would get frowned upon in some circles.) But still for Harmony to be FANTASIZING about Jesus like that?! It is beyond offensive and inappropriate; it's just plain wrong. I mean how could you genuinely have faith in Jesus as your Lord and Savior--and--see him in your fantasies like that? I don't think you can.
And then there is Jondoe. Where to start?! Maybe when he claims to be a missionary for God? Or maybe when he starts making these claims as he's getting ready to "witness" to Harmony:
"My partners see the Truth with a capital T. Maybe not before or after, but definitely during." (255)
"I make them see God. Or rather, God, working through me, helps them see God. He gets all the credit. Only our Creator has the power to stir such feelings of ecstasy. Each and every one of my preggs has been touched by His divine hand." (255)
"The more I give to God, the more blessings I'll receive in turn. I'll never be able to outgive Him, but I'm having fun trying." (255)
I found sections of Bumped to be tasteless, offensive, outrageous, twisted, and wrong in oh so many ways. It goes beyond being insensitive. It goes beyond being irritating and annoying. It goes beyond mocking. It goes beyond insulting.
Bumped had an interesting premise. And there were places where it almost, almost reminded me of Win a Date With Tad Hamilton. Except that Win a Date With Tad Hamilton was cute and charming and had its redeemable moments.
If you're expecting Jondoe OR Zen to be another Marcus Flutie, you'll probably be very disappointed.
I think I almost would have preferred there just to be the one girl, to have this one be (yet) another dystopian novel with a love triangle at the center. If this book had been about Melody trying to decide between following her heart and her own desire (for Zen, her best friend) and honoring her agreement, her contract with the Jaydens. An agreement that involves lots of money! That would have still made for an interesting read. Or if the author really truly thought that Harmony was the stronger character, why not set her story in Goodside and show Harmony's struggle there. Of her trying to decide if she wants an arranged marriage or if she wants to "escape" to the real world and fall in love.
Reading is subjective and while I absolutely hated Bumped, you might feel differently.
© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews