Author: Megan McCafferty Published: April 26, 2011 Pages: 336 Rating: 4/5 stars
Description from Goodreads:
When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents are forced to pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society.
Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and had never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Until 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 religious Goodside, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to bring Melody back to Goodside and convince her 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.
In the near future, a virus has made most people over the age of 18 infertile. This has made it popular, even encouraged for teens to become pregnant for others as soon as they can. Babies are now a commodity, and educated, white females can demand high prices for their "deliveries" (babies are not discussed). In this world we find identical twin girls, separated at birth, now meeting for the first time. Melody's parents have encouraged her to hold out for the highest bidder, making her pregnancy a high priced deal. Harmony was raised in a religious community where girls are encouraged to marry at thirteen, and she has come to make Melody realize that pregnancy for hire should not be done.
When I started reading this book I wasn't sure I liked it. The ideas were so foreign it was hard to read. But as I delved into the book it became a fascinating look at what could happen in a world where the pursuit of money is more important than then babies you create. It soon became clear that the adults in this world had changed the way their children think, and had the ability to encourage them to sell their womb space to the highest bidder. I felt sorry for the teens who felt they had to join in and help populate the world.
The two main characters were at first glance so very different, but as the story progressed, the ways they were alike became more apparent. The story was told from two view points, each twin alternating chapters. Their characters were well developed with Harmony the easiest to like with her sweet language and good intents. The slang used by Melody made her a bit harder to follow, but you could see her realization of her real predicament as the story progressed. The secondary characters were also well developed and likable, even fascinating. It was hard not to be disgusted with the parents, although they were not present for much of the story it was clear that their own desires drove them to make choices for the girls that were in the best interests of themselves, not their children.
This is a book that made me think. Parental approval, even encouragement, to become pregnant along with the financial gain, and peer pressure, made giving birth just another teen milestone. The way McCafferty set up the future world where this, along with constant advertising that was geared toward encouraging teen pregnancy made it clear that this is something that could happen if the circumstances were right.While the book could be seen as a lighthearted, fluffy read, the themes are real and deserve to be examined. Women are clearly devalued in this world and the way the characters eventually stood up for themselves made me want to cheer. The ending was a bit abrupt, but I soon found out that a sequel is planned, and I can't wait for the next installment.
Rating: An excellent story that will leave you thinking
Note: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley for review but did not get any compensation for the review.