In this well-realized dystopia, a virus has rendered nearly everyone in the world unable to have children after age 18.
As a result, teen pregnancies become the only way to continue civilization. Alternating chapters follow two identical twins, Melody and Harmony, who meet for the first time just as Melody is about to begin fulfilling her lucrative contract to “bump” and produce a baby for a wealthy couple. Harmony has left her conservative religious enclave in an attempt to convince Melody to embrace God instead. Everything goes awry when Harmony intercepts the pregnancy agent’s wonderful news: Melody will be “bumping” with the most famous and desirable surrogate father alive. As the story progresses, however, each twin faces serious doubts about her original plans. McCafferty invents teen slang that rings true, such as “a pregg” (baby), “facespace” and “until our parents’ generation finally takes a dirtnap.” The author keeps her characters lively, giving them distinct personalities, and she clearly takes sides in judging her imagined future society. Despite the futuristic setting, the main focus of the book is a cautionary tale about teen pregnancy and casual, loveless sex. McCafferty includes abundant sexual references, mostly from the enthusiastic high-school girls who compete over their “preggs” and “bumps.”
She leaves readers with an ambiguous ending, sure to keep them thinking. (Science fiction. 14 & up)