Bumped - Megan McCafferty What a unique story.

I so much loved the Jessica Darling series that I was predisposed to liking this book given that it was written by Megan McCafferty. Indeed, Megan's fantastic characters and easy-to-read narrative read like a chocolate milkshake going down. But the totally out-there story premise was just as compelling.

Melody lives in a future world where the human race has been stricken by a virus that renders 75% of the population infertile by the time they reach the age of 20. In order to keep the population from disappearing altogether, girls in their young child-bearing years - basically, puberty through age 18 - are not only encouraged to become pregnant, they're often paid to do so. And girls with genetic superiority can garner lucrative contracts for bearing an older couples' child. It's big business.

In fact, all of society has altered every norm it has ever held to glorify teen pregnancy, teen unprotected sex (condoms have long ago been made illegal), heck all forms of teen promiscuity are encouraged. Drugs that encourage attraction are doled out like the club drugs of today, and girls are given anti-attachment medications to make sure they never bond with the unborn children they will soon deliver and surrender. "Virges on the verge" - girls who are nearing the age of infertility but have not carried a single pregnancy - are pitied and scorned, and only the most desperate will "bump" with a genetically inferior "sperm".

Melody has gotten herself a plumb contract and is only waiting for her agent to find the perfect male to "bump" her, yet she's drawn to her best friend Zen, a great guy who suffers from insufficient verticality and thus cannot bump her even if he's dying to be her everythingbut. Throw into the mix Melody's long lost twin sister, Harmony, a girl brought up in a religion that still promotes marriage and fidelity before pregnancy even if it must happen at a much younger age. Melody and Harmony both learn a lot about themselves and what is important in life in a very fast-paced story that kept me turning pages like crazy.

McCafferty does a fantastic job dropping the reader right in to the middle of this future. She hits the ground running, and with great skill she drops bits of backstory and information so that you learn what is happening without ever having to plod through pages of infodump. The teen slang and modern technologies make sense and are easy to imagine.

The characters are great, and the two love stories that develop are sweet. I admit it was very hard, however, to wrap my brain around a world where teen pregnancy is worshipped. Even until the very end of the book, I maintained a slightly shocked feeling. This is the only reason I didn't give this a 5 star rating - as much as I liked the book and appreciated the world McCafferty created, I was never able to lose myself in that reality.

I thought this book was a lot of fun. It isn't for young YA readers, however.