I seriously don’t know why it has taken me so long to get to this book. Everything this author writes is wonderful. I absolutely loved the first book in this series (Bumped). I love her other series that for some reason is usually put in the adult section of libraries/stores. And I guess this book just kind of got lost in my giant TBR piles. When I moved though I found it again, and went, “Why have I not read this yet?”
Time is running out for Harmony and Melody, two twins who are pulling off the ultimate scam. Harmony is back to living in Goodside, where she is ostracized by her peers for leaving in the first book. There are some seriously scary moments where characters all hint at Melody’s punishment to come. And this is without everyone knowing that her unborn twins actually do not come from her husband…Who knows what these people would do to her if they knew she slept with Jondoe.
And Melody, the twin who was supposed to sleep with Jondoe –and who is actually being paid an astronomical sum to do so, is fake pregnant with a seriously high-tech fake baby bump. Melody and Harmony are supposed to have the same due dates for their two sets of twins, but Melody doesn’t have twins; she’s actually still a virgin. The only boy she wants to sleep with is the one she is in love with, Zen. But sleeping with Zen would break her contract and Zen wouldn’t make her nearly as much money as Jondoe would.
When Harmony finally sees how awful it would be for her babies to live in Goodside, she decides to escape again (at the last minute). It’s the last minute because her due date is awfully close. She’s barely home with Melody for a day before she goes into labor. And then of course the girls have to figure out how to handle the consequences of their scam. Zen thinks it the perfect opportunity to talk about how wrong society has been, but Melody isn’t exactly sure what to say until she says it.
This book is loaded with romance, politics, scandals, babies, paparazzi, love triangles, social media, lies, and an intense feeling of doom. You know it can’t end well for the girl who is scamming the whole system. And I might have put the book down for a minute when Melody was arrested… However, I’m so glad I picked it up again because wow. She gives such a crucial press conference-type speech at the end. A speech that really has you thinking! And I guess what it all comes down to is what people are willing to forgive and how much people are able to actually see.
This book, while not probably categorized with other dystopias, really defines dystopia for me. It’s in the future. It takes place after something bad happens (aka: the adult population is unable to give birth any more, but teenagers still can). It demonstrates both the direct and not so direct consequences such a bad thing can have on the population at large. And the extent to which McCafferty writes about the indirect consequences is insane! So many details went into this story. There’s the language (or the slang), the advertisements, the propaganda, the change of the education system, buses for pregnant teenagers, maternity clothing, high tech pretend baby bumps, PR, social media, etc. It is almost too easy to get lost in the words of the story, and like all the characters –particularly the main character, forget that anything is wrong.
But just when you forget something is wrong, McCafferty reminds you otherwise by showing you girls who are drugged out at school (forced to medicate so they can produce more babies). Or she’ll throw in a tidbit about kidnapped girls or the legal ban on all condoms. Or there will be the random horror stories of the girls who don’t want to give up their babies for adoption after all.
It’s also amazing to see how political things are. The most liberal are the ones that most support teen pregnancy as a way for girls to fund the rest of their lives. It’s kind of like how professional athletes make money for the limited time they are at the peek of their game, but then have enough to live on for the rest of their lives and more. Except, in this scenario, we’re talking teen girls.
And the more you think of what is happening, in depth, the more you realize how stupid you were for getting sucked in to the language and not thinking of how awful this really is. It should never be okay for girls to be forced or talked into sleeping with someone they don’t love. And the major reason I loved the twins is because both of them, on some level, always understood the wrongness of the world they live in. Harmony has always questioned things and is not nearly manipulated enough to be as docile and subservient as her highly religious (somewhat Amish sounding) culture demands. And Melody is not nearly as rebellious or vocal about her opinions as her hidden boyfriend, Zen, but she’s smart enough to see problems with the way things are run. When a girl cannot have intimate relations with a guy she’s actually in love with, but is encouraged to have relations with someone she doesn’t know, something is off.
And the most dystopia-type quality of this story is just how scary it is to be a woman. When the only options are God and early marriage or selling oneself for a better future, it does not seem like women’s rights have gone in the right direction. And scariest of all is that I can totally see our country heading in such a backwards direction if something as awful as adults not being able to give birth, were actually to happen.
This book is loaded with amazing quotes, but most of them are at the end and I don’t want to spoil things. With each step back I take from this story, I see more and more parody. This author could be writing about our current society’s view on gender, on sex, on women’s rights. And she also could be writing about today’s society’s view on social media, language, advertisements, and more. I haven’t read a book with this many layers in it since Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens, which surprisingly is also written with such a humorous voice. McCafferty has already proven to have the whole, witty teen angst humor thing down. But she goes above and beyond with it here. I recommend this series to fans of Libba Bray, definitely. But, I think I just recommend it to everyone. Seriously, go read it. It gets a 10/10 from me.