I love Megan McCafferty. I loved her Jessica Darling series something serious. She is such a great writer. The premise of these two books is weird, but they are extremely well written.
These books are about a time in the not too distant future, like 2100-ish maybe sooner, where women are affected by a virus that destroys the reproductive system and makes it impossible for women over 19 to have children; so teenagers do. Men are also affected by the virus, but their role in the book is much less a part of the story.
Parts of these books remind me a little of The Handmaid’s Tale. The girls that have the babies don’t get to keep them. They are paid surrogates that take drugs so that they don’t become attached to their pregnancies. There is a weird fame that comes with being able to produce children. Girls as young at 11 or 12 are essentially told to “go pro” to have children for couples in their 20’s and 30’s who want children. There is a whole culture around it. These girls are put on this very high pedestal because they have to “save humans” by having these children.
The two narrators are twins that were separated at birth: Melody who was raised in the world where girls become very famous for creating children and Harmony who grew up in “Goodside” a culture that I equate with Amish-style living.
In Harmony’s world, the Bible is a big thing. They arrange marriage around 13 and are expected to follow the rules of their culture without question. They have children and raise those children themselves. She was raised by a woman who has raised 47 other children.
In Melody’s world, she was raised in “Otherside” her parents run seminars about how the world needs these girls to produce babies and the culture around the teen pregnancies are saving the world.
Something I found interesting about this story, is that unlike many dystopian stories where were hear about the outside world where everything is different, we get to see it. Many times the main character is completely unfamiliar with the world outside their society, they only know about it and escape into it blindly. In this story is told in dual narrative, Harmony is from outside of society. She in escaping into the world that Melody lives. We, as readers, are not discovering the “outside” we are learning about it from someone from there. We are also learning about the main society through the eyes of someone who doesn’t know how it works.
I liked the dual narratives. The differences between the girls and their motives. I think that there is a fuller story told this way. We get to see the positives and negatives of both the worlds. Both girls are not completely convinced that they are living the best way. They understand that there has to be a better way to fix the situation that is happening in the world. There has to be a better way to fix the population than making teenagers famous for having babies. There has to be a better way than arranged marriage.
There is a vocabulary that is interesting throughout this book. Melody’s half more than Harmony’s. I greatly enjoyed that, because it forces the reader to become a part of this world to read it. You need to understand the fame game and what bumping is and how their world works. You need to immerse yourself in it to continue the book.
Harmony’s narrative in the first book helps the reader to discover this foreign world as she does. Harmony’s motives are finding her twin sister and family. Throughout both books, it is very clear that all Harmony wants is a family. She wants her sister; she wants to meet her birth parents.
These books are weird, to be sure. Parts of them can be very unrealistic it’s not dystopian in a way that The Hunger Games are dystopian or even The Handmaid’s Tale. The world seems to take celebrity status and turns it in an unexpected way. The focus isn’t on people who can act or sing but fertile teenagers. Honestly, it doesn’t seem super far fetched because of the celebrity culture we live in, who is popular and what is popular changes so quickly. We now get excited for famous people who are having babies. We feel invested in their story somehow. I mean, April the Giraffe? I know I was a little bit too invested in that. I got three separate breaking news alert emails and a breaking news alert on my phone when she was in labor and after her son was born. I did not subscribe to any kind of special giraffe alerts, this was the actual news alerting me CNN and two local news channels.
I think it would be easy to see a crisis and try to fix it in a way that very quickly turns very problematic, like the Bumped stories. There is an interesting aspect of this story that is what you believe verse what is expected. Melody and Harmony are so different because of how they were raised and have very different motives in both stories, but there is this connection between them that is so much more than just being twins. Throughout this story, the two girls know each other for a little more eight months.
I have mixed feelings about these books, they are well-written and interesting, but the storylines are odd. It takes a bit to get acclimated to the world. I think they open an interesting discussion. I am all about books that start discussions.
I would love to know if you have read these books? What did you think if you have?
Until next time Internet,