In the not-so-distant future, people are unable to conceive after about age 18, and as a result, teens are not only encouraged to reproduce, but paid well to do so. Teen idols arise who have landed the hottest contracts for their “bumps.” Melody, one of the first on the scene, is still waiting for her clients to decide on a perfect partner. Melony’s twin sister, Harmony, however, has been raised in the religious community known as Goodside, and is determined to steer her sister onto a more pios path.
I’ll admit I had some misgivings about this book going in. The setting is pretty fascinating, and unsettlingly believable, but both of the two main characters were kind of grating. Melody is fairly unpleasant and kind of an odd combination of jaded and oblivious, and Harmony’s god-toting was annoying from the get-go. But both characters do a lot of growing and changing throughout the course of the book, and while I still don’t think I’d want to get pizza with them, I was definitely invested in their story by the end.
I think this book makes a really interesting commentary on society, and has a good bit of satirical wit thrown in. But I felt it was missing something. It seemed like it was holding back; that it wasn’t going as deep or as detailed as it could have. For the first half of the book, I felt like things seemed too easy for our main characters. They were both going through some interesting realizations, and learning a lot about their prospective cultures and the issues there in, but most of the dramatic stuff was happening around them, not to. However, I changed my mind by the end. Harmony talks a lot about wanting to “bear witness,” and that’s pretty much what happens. These girls are witnesses to the messed up state of their society. And given how the book ends, I have reason to believe that the second book will be satisfying in ways the first one couldn’t be.
This book does get major props for actually having non-straight and non-white characters. And not just throw-away paragraphs mentioning such people, but actual, real, prominent secondary characters. Love interests and supporting cast members. Of all the dystopias I’ve read, this is one of the only one’s that’s actually done that in a big way, and more than anything it makes me really attached to the series.
Don’t read this if you’re looking for a fluffy dystopian or a light romance. Do read it if you’re prepared to give it some thought, and are ok with maybe not liking the protagonists for most of the book. This is one of those books where you’re meant to feel a bit unsettled.