The latest dystopian tale to leave me awestruck was this month's Delirium by Lauren Oliver. This RT Top Pick! takes place in a society where love is considered a disease; one which teens must have an operation done to protect them from. Even after I finished Delirium, I was unable to forget Oliver's unusual look at teen love.
So, I was intrigued to hear about another new dystopian novel dealing with teen love in an unexpected way. While Oliver puts a spin on the emotional side of love, this May Megan McCafferty's Bumped revolves around the physical side of love. In Bumped teens are encouraged to be sexually active in hopes of getting pregnant.
With such intriguing takes on teen love in dystopian society, I knew that I needed to chat with Oliver and McCafferty about how their worlds compare to ours. And don't miss your chance to read exclusive excerpts of Delirium and Bumped at the end of this author interview!
What is one way your dystopian world is the most different from society today?
Megan McCafferty: Because of an infertility virus, only teenagers can conceive. Girls are encouraged—by the government, the media, the schools, the parents—to get bumped. In other words, to have sex and get pregnant.
What is one way that they are most the same?
Lauren Oliver: I tried to keep the society as closely paralleled to our own as possible. The available technology is roughly equivalent. Teens get part-time summer jobs, and spend time swimming at the beach. People work, and shop, and cook dinner. In many ways, the society is an accurate mirror of our own.
Megan McCaferty: When you’re a teenager, it’s like every decision—from what prom dress to buy, to what college to attend, to what boy to hook up with—has major life-changing potential. Only in the world of Bumped, it’s not just youthful self-absorption. Without their babies, the human race goes the way of the Dodo. Their choices determine not only their own futures, but the fate of Western Civilization.
Does your heroine rebel because she is innately "special", because she has experienced "special circumstances" or do you think that rebellion is inevitable in such a government-instituted world?
Lauren Oliver: My heroine is definitely not innately special. I don’t believe in innate specialness. People become special by virtue of the moral and emotional choices they make. Lena, my protagonist, becomes special because she chooses to risk, and she refuses, ultimately, to fear.
Megan McCafferty: Bumped is narrated by sixteen-year-old twins separated at birth and raised in radically different households: one deeply religious, the other not at all. And yet both girls rebel against everything they’ve been brought up to believe because they were never given any choice in the matter. Their destinies—reproductive and otherwise—were predetermined by their parents. I do think such rebellion is inevitable, whether in real life suburbia or fictional dystopia.
And what is something that surprised you about your dystopian world?
Lauren Oliver: I was surprised by how much damage can be inflicted by people who pretend to want the best for you. Nothing is more dangerous than someone who feels morally superior, because he/she will also never feel guilty.
Megan McCafferty: Bumped is as satirical as it is dystopian. I’ve always incorporated humor in my work, and yet even I was surprised by how many laughs I could mine from such an apocalyptic scenario.
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