Monday, September 30, 2013

The TorchBearer's Book Club: Bumped chapters 19-23

We’ll be breezing through the next five chapters, mostly because there’s not much to say about them that wasn’t already discussed, and also because the next one will be such a clusterf*ck of OMFG WHAT THE S*** AM I READING that I’ll need to devote all my time and attention to it.

Also, the next three chapters are mostly worldbuilding worldbuilding worldbuilding and set up, and since we’ve already discussed these at length, the only thing left is to snark like it’s 2006 and Twilight has just hit the stands.

Spoilers and racy language warning!


Jondoe continues to be his charming chatty self and Harmony is still trying to pick her jaw off the floor. She’s all “Oh, my grace!” and Jondoe seems to find that hilarious. Which I imagine it would be. We’ve already seen samples of what the everyday language is for non-Goodside girls: “I’m terminating!” and “Breedy!”  and, of course, “I’m about to pop and outtie,” (which sounds disgusting, btw.) Just think how much racier / ridiculous it can get in the heat of the moment. “Yeah, sperminate me!” and “I’m just going to close my eyes and think about the paycheque, mmmkay?” will be the tip of the iceberg.

But “Oh, my grace?” I guess on-one found God in his presence.

He also seems to have a wide cultural knowledge, recognising a pop star from almost 20 years ago, who is also the mother of the members of a current major rapper band.

Well. Not a pop star.

He calls her a “major bonermaker” (p. 121) and then proceeds to say that Harmony is much hotter than her. (Of course she is.)

Putting aside the implication that “Fed Double X”, the rap act which will come up a few times during the book, are celebrity children and thus liable for Miley Cyrus-esque meltdowns in the very near future, I would very much like to know if there’s a female equivalent to “bonermaker” and if so, what that would be. “Panty-wetter?” “Panty-shaker?” “Edward Cullen?” (yeah, prolly not that last one)

Sadly, like girlbot, I imagine that bonermaker is a term purely used by the male population, because, pfft, women, they don’t enjoy sex, they need to have their eye on a whole different goal!

Or so this society would like us to think.

Jondoe also sprouts off more things he learnt in Melody’s file, which just shows how reliant everyone is on technology here. Harmony has been staying with Melody all weekend, but she doesn’t seem to know any of the things Jondoe has learnt by merely going online. I wonder if McCafferty meant this as just another touch in the world she created, or as a clever criticism of what we have here right now – with people told to use the social media in order to network and amp up their chances of employment, but also to be careful what they say because their employers and insurers might go on their Facebook and see embarrassing pictures from Cancun. Or because your date might cancel on you because they went on Google and saw something they didn’t like.

That’s not to say that getting to know a person online doesn’t have its advantages – as seen previously, Jondoe used the information to take note of Melody’s preferences and do everything in his power to put her at ease. Likewise, in the real world, you might not want to date someone who has expressed, loudly and repeatedly, his disgust with something you hold dear.

Oh, and apparently professional surrogating is also called “reproductive empowerment” in this world. I’ll get to that next week.

We move onto Melody’s chapter, which, if these chapters were titled, would have been something along the lines of “Neener-neener, I’m so much better than all of you.”

First she snarks about the cheerclones who tried to synchro-bump at the MasSEX party mentioned in the first chapters, and how they just couldn’t wait to see if they succeeded.

It turned out the Cheerclones were far less successful than the Science Olympians, who had the necessary left-side brainskills to accurately calculate ovulation.

McCafferty, Megan, “Bumped”, page 124, Harper Collins, Kindle Edition

Stay classy, Mel. Have I also mentioned how much “ewww, female sexuality and sex” is there in these chapters? First Harmony’s outrage at the getup of that former pop star (“dressed in a tight red top and a blasphemously short skirt. She’s on her knees, but she’s definitely not praying” p. 121), then Melody being dismissive of both the Cheerclones (for being so dumb) and the Science Olympians (who could only find one guy in their group who was attractive enough to do the job) and then slagging off the girls in her gym class for being too sick (morning- and sympathy-wise) to do anything with her. Granted, she slags off the boys too, because they’re so hung-over, but from all the evidence, Melody is more squeaked out by sex than Jessica Darling (who, at least, wanted to get laid, even if talking about it made her edgy.)

I’m willing to chalk some of it up on blowback – Harmony’s having some serious cultural shock and Melody is so over-exposed to the hyper-sex culture that she is rebelling in the only way she knows how – but I’m still annoyed at Melody for having so little sympathy for her fellow girls. Even if she’s profoundly in denial, she has enough awareness to know that what happened to Malia was wrong, so why can’t she extend some of her sympathy to the other girls in her school? God knows, she doesn’t have all that many reasons to feel superior to them.

No, really. Melody isn’t interested in looks (no more than worrying if she fits, anyway), she’s not the most athletic (the Cheerclones being able to flip well into their third trimesters beats super-soccer skills in my book) nor is she the most dedicated, seeing that she spends two whole periods (North American Arts and Culture and Biogenetics II, the latter of which is super-important for her future) exchanging notes with Zen about Harmony.

And Zen… oh, Zen, I like your sunny disposition, but you seriously piss me off in this chapter.

I think your sister’s marriage is a mistake.

I think you’re a victim of your own false consciousness.

(…)

We should offer your sister asylum so that she can stay in Otherside. Forcing marriage is a violation of her basic human rights.

What makes you think she wants to stay?

I’ve done my research. Most trubies don’t get five miles away fromt their settlement before they get scared, go back and make a lifelong commitment to the Church. That she came here all proves that she wants to stay.

What if I don’t want her to stay?

If you choose to be so uncool as to cast out your identical twin sister, she can always stay with me. (…) This is a serious situation, Mel. You have an opportunity to do something here. To help. This time don’t wait until it’s too late.

McCafferty, Megan, “Bumped”, page 126-127, Harper Collins, Kindle Edition.

Fuck you, Zen.

First of all, bringing Malia into this, even without mentioning her name, is a low blow if I ever saw one. Melody is having it hard enough without you forcing her to project onto Harmony, and if she chooses not to do anything, that is her call, not yours.

Second, though you are one-hundred percent correct in the case of the book, Harmony has not given any outright indication that you are. All your assumptions so far are based on some research you did on the Net, on which you drew your own biased conclusions. If anything, Harmony’s actions (and most of her thoughts) indicate that she’s only come so that she can convert Melody, not to stay herself.

So why are you going all macho male saviour on her? Are you trying to score brownie points in Heaven? Or are you hoping to get into Melody’s pants?

Finally, why do you infer Melody doesn’t seem to care for her sister, just because she’s not butting in like you are? Melody does notice Harmony doesn’t talk about her wedding plans and her fiancé much, but she chooses to give her sister space and not push her boundaries with thoughtless questions. For all of Melody’s faults, she is, at the very least, conscious of how delicate a person’s inner balance is, and she is careful of not upsetting it if the other person does not wish it to be upset.

Zen, even if you think something is wrong by your standards, you cannot view women as helpless pets that need your expert guidance. Your own culture is hardly lollipops and sunshine – even if forced marriage is not a thing, those masSEX parties you chauffeur people to are openly condoned and acknowledged. The Elders of Otherside may not directly violate teen’s basic human rights, but they do everything but. (And sometimes they also forget the BUT.)

Moving on before I pop an outtie, Harmony manages to unstick her vocal cords enough to sing for Jondoe (soccer and hugs, apparently, didn’t work, so he finally brings music into the conversation.) Also, apparently most teens play guitarbot instead of a regular old guitar, which I think is a huge shame. Like most people with artistic interests, I bristle whenever someone equates a job in the arts as “being paid to do your hobby”, like painting or playing or writing for money isn’t a real job. That’s not to say playing a mechanised instrument doesn’t have its drawbacks, but the way it’s worded here, it implies that no effort is put at all.

Anyway, Harmony plays a religious hymn, which is apparently pretty hot because:

And as I do, I feel a tiny flame sparkling deep inside me, the flicker of a single lit match in a place I’m not supposed to think about, and as I keep singing and strumming that light burns hotter and brighter and spreads its light up and out and throughout my entire body, and I sing and sing and sing until that tiny torch has lit my entire body ablaze, an undousable conflagration of passion.

McCafferty, Megan, “Bumped”, page 131, Harper Collins, Kindle Edition.


Goodness, I don’t think even Nora Roberts described it like that. 

Melody’s next chapter is basically her making up with Shoko (kinda) and again, nothing much to say except, if she’s so sympathetic of Malia, why doesn’t she feel sympathetic to the rest of the girls in the school?

And then we jump back to Harmony to see Jondoe gaping at Harmony. For a second there, we worry that he’s cottoned on that there’s something fishy, but then he just shrugs and gets Harmony an ovulation test. At first glance, it seems like a ridiculous chapter to set apart, but then we get the rest of the book and it all makes sense.


Anyway, stay in tune for next week’s political propaganda. It’s going to be interesting. 

Image via BookLikes.

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