Author: Megan MCCafferty
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Number of Pages: 323 (hardcover)
Advertised Age Level: Ages 14 and up
Age and Grade of Main Character(s): 16
Language: no profanity
Sex: pervasive but never graphically described – procreation and pregnancy are the main themes of the story
Drug/Alcohol Use: futuristic drugs are used to encourage sexual promiscuity and to eliminate maternal attachment to newborns so that the babies can be easily taken away from their birth mothers
Social Issues: dystopia, teen sex, teen pregnancy, birth control, surrogacy, payment for babies, suicide
Suggested Movie Grade: R
Premise: In the future, a Virus has spread over the earth which causes both men and women to become infertile when they reach the age of 18. In order to keep the human species from going extinct, teenagers are encouraged to engage in sex and become pregnant as soon as they are physically capable of reproducing. Not only is teen sex considered a patriotic duty, teens with desirable genetic traits are courted by prospective parents, rewarded handsomely for producing as many babies as possible, and viewed by other teens as role models. Melody is such a desirable surrogate, scoring a lucrative contract with a childless couple that will pay her way through college. While Melody waits for an equally desirable mate to “bump” with, she learns that she has a twin sister, Harmony.
Harmony has been raised in Goodside, a religious community where pregnancy is equally valued but only within the sanctioned bonds of marriage. She leaves her cloistered life to seek out her sister in order to convince Melody that procreating for profit is a sin. However, Harmony is also questioning the life that has been planned for her. As the two sisters come to know the other sister’s side, each faces some choices that fly against everything society tells them is correct.
Potential Points of Concern: Given the very theme of this book – teen sex and pregnancy – the entire book can be considered a point of concern. While no sex acts are ever described in detail, below is a small list of aspects in this dystopian world that are pervasive through the entire book:
Young girls are sold fake pregnancy bumps in order to pretend to be pregnant. Sex stores are common and accepted. Everything about pregnancy is glorified and sold to young girls as desirable.
Teens are encouraged to take drugs to heighten their libidos.
Birth control is illegal, and having sex without the intention of procreating is frowned upon.
Teens attend sex parties with the intention of becoming pregnant.
It is scandalous for a desirable teen to accidentally become impregnated by an undesirable teen, therefore virginity is encouraged until an appropriate mate can be found.
Desirable teen males are paid handsomely for stud services.
Pregnant teens are given drugs to minimize the hormones that would cause them to bond with their babies so that the separation that happens at birth will not be traumatic.
In the religious community, Goodside, teen girls are wed to teen boys not of their choosing.
Age Appropriateness: 14 or 15 +