posted at Sunday, September 12th, 2010 at 5:33 AM | Reviews, Young Adult
I received this book for free from ALA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The DUFF by Kody Keplinger
Published by Poppy on September 7, 2010
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face.
But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.
Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.
To paraphrase one of my favorite movies of all time (The Producers, the original from 1968): I never in a million years thought I’d ever love a book called The Duff (Designated Ugly Fat Friend). I was all kinds of prepared to hate this book, through an automatic, knee-jerk sympathetic reaction for the main character. Being the Duff sucks and I feared the book would mock that role.
From the beginning, I identified somewhat with Bianca. The book opens with her, and her two gorgeous, party-loving friends, out at the local teen spot, where they can dance and hook up. Bianca just sits at the ‘bar,’ drinking cherry coke (the best standard soda choice) and rolling her eyes at the ridiculous teen antics. She is sarcastic and super not interested in dealing with any of the people there. How can I not identify with a sarcastic, cynical main character who has a forbidding aura when in an uncomfortable social situation?
The revelation of being the Duff too, I sympathized with. There are definitely times where I have been the wingman (winglady?), there to give encouragement and be ignored by the menfolk. This can have positive side effects, such as free drinks for you (since the guy wants to show your friend how kind he is). In Ireland, I performed this function quite a bit. But, no matter how much you mostly don’t mind, it does where on you. Even a girl like Bianca, who does not believe in young love or really want a relationship, still wants, perhaps needs, to feel desirable.
I imagine this book may upset some parents, given that the kids in it make some unwise sexual decisions (honestly, they have sex, which is the decision that may anger parents of a certain ilk). Still, the book advocates healthy messages, like safe sex and positive self-image. More than that, this book achieved a rare, magical thing: the characters felt like real people and I could hardly put the book down.
Highly recommended! Seriously, do not judge the title, just give it a shot!