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A friend recently asked me if I would read two books and give her my thoughts. Knowing I’m writer and an avid reader, I guess she figured she could trust me to let her know what I truly thought.  Looking at the books, I could see why she wanted a “second opinion” so to speak.

After obtaining the books, I sat down to read them this week. They gave me a lot to think about, and after completion I know even more what she wanted from me.

I actually really liked the books. Sometimes it is good to read a book that makes you THINK.

I’m attempting to review these books together and I apologize if the blog runs long. I’m also going to alter my review style a little bit. Please let me know what you think.

Before I begin the reviewing, let me explain something.  These books fall into the “Young Adult” classification. Young Adult seems to confuse people. Young Adult is exactly what it says. That second word is ADULT. That means that the books might not really be geared towards your pre-pubescent tweenagers.  Young Adult books are not truly meant for the average 6th grader.

It goes without saying that the content may push the bounds a little bit. These two definitely push the bounds. I don’t want to hear whining.
Beauty QueensBeauty Queens

Written by: Libba Bray
Pages: 390

The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.

What’s a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program–or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan–or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?

Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Your tour guide? None other than Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again


My synopsis: “Lord of the Flies” in a girl-friendly fashion.

Classification: Farce, Social Commentary, Young Adult

The writing: Smart, funny, well-done.

Who should read it: Book clubs, young adults, women, great female-alternative to classes reading Lord of the Flies. I do love a good farce, and this book won that name hands-down.

Growing up, I spent a lot of time on stage with dance and theatre. I modeled at the local mall. I knew many a pageant girl. Playing off the stereotypes with some prima donna stage girls crashing onto a deserted island? WIN! You would be surprised what you can McGyver together from a can of hairspray, a bathing suit, and a pillow.

The thing I liked most was the author’s voice. Obviously she took nothing seriously. The best addition? Footnotes for the product placement. She made up completely over the top products with commercials that come off how advertisements appear as opposed to what they say. “Bimbo #1: I’ll just stand here and wave because I’m only the sex symbol.” That kind of thing. (That’s my own by the way.) Breaking the “fourth wall” of the story, to steal a stage term, cracked me up.

The thing I hated: Sex. You had your obligatory gay girl, your obligatory “I’m confused girl so I’ll make out with the gay girl”, your obligatory “I’ll sleep my way to the crown girl”, you even had an “I’m really a dude, girl”.  No mocking beauty queens story could possibly be complete without these, just like you need to have the space cadet with the IQ lower than her shoe size.  Reading the book, it’s 99.9% Ok, with just these throw-ins that seemed almost a little forced. “Throw some sex in, you gotta throw some sex in!”

Really. You don’t. Though getting the Captains Bodacious to shipwreck on the island for a bit? Nice plot device. I could even handle the sex portion if it wasn’t quite so detail-y. No, this wasn’t a Harlequin and no there were not pages and pages of “throbbing members”, however there was a little more details than I needed. Sorry, it’s just not interesting if you’re not an active participant.

Thankfully, the author closed the hut doors after the heavy petting.
Bumped (Bumped, #1)


Writen by: Megan McCafferty
Pages: 323

When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society. Girls sport fake baby bumps and the school cafeteria stocks folic-acid-infused food.

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and have never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Up to now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend, Zen, who is way too short for the job.

Harmony has spent her whole life in Goodside, a religious community, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to convince Melody that pregging for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.

When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common.

From New York Times bestselling author Megan McCafferty comes a strikingly original look at friendship, love, and sisterhood—in a future that is eerily believable.

Warning: The term “bumped” holds the double meaning of having and getting a baby bump. Need I say more?

My Synopsis: Let’s Return to When Teen Pregnancy Was The Norm

Classification: Dystopian, Young Adult

The Writing: Excellent, the writer created a whole new slang-base which takes talent. Truly, my fave element in the whole book.

Who Should Read: Book Clubs – definitely. Someone will love it and someone will hate it and be utterly morally offended by it. That combo will make for the best book discussion all year.

The Bad: Aside from the whole teen sex/pregnancy thing (some would call that bad)? The ending. *Sigh* Thumped comes out in six months. I want to find out what happens next. One of *those* endings.

The entire point of this book is “teen sex”. That said, it’s not really about “teen sex” at all.

The mark of a good dystopian is that it makes you think…in a disturbed way.  Could our society fall down that path? Would it be a good path or a bad path? What does it mean?

That would be “Bumped” all the way.

The trope – widespread infertility. More than 75% of the 18-and-over population cannot conceive or host a pregnancy. The book makes very clear, the world attempted petri dish fertilization and insemination. It failed. What’s left? Teenagers.

Note – it was not really that long ago when teens not only married but had children. Different times, but it worked for thousands of years. Only today do we strap “adulthood” with the age of 18. No, I’m not saying teen sex is OK, I’m just making an observation.

In this society, the teens are encouraged to have babies. The adults adopt the babies. Hey, at least you know your baby is going to a lovely home. I’m a fan of adoption. I’m half adopted. I have many friends that either adopted themselves or were adopted. Adoption = good.

The fascinating concept: Pro-bumper or Amateur-bumper. What? In the story some couples contract with a teen girl and then find her a suitable partner to conceive with, much akin to breeding a horse or a dog.  Other teens choose to not contract and conceive their own way: boyfriend, friend, or at a “hook-up” party.

The discussion value alone astounds.

The main characters are two girls, identical twins, with very different upbringing. One is a pro-bumper and the other grew up in a religious community that chooses to just marry you off at puberty.  Which is right? Which is wrong? With the alternating viewpoints, you learn that both question their world-view.

That, I like.

In the end, I really liked the book. And it really wasn’t about the sex. In fact, with only one actual “sex scene” where you got very little details, I think there is something to be said for that.

I would definitely not give this book to just anyone, though.

If you liked “The Hunger Games” and could deal with “kids killing kids”, then you could handle this and probably like it. A lot. If you are in any way sensitive to the discussion of teen sex, pregnancy, and/or adoption – leave this book on the shelf.

–Lady O