For What It's Worth

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Review: The Duff by Kody Keplinger

The DUFF: (Designated Ugly Fat Friend)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 "Duffy," she throws her Coke in his face.The Duff.

But things aren't so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley.
Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that 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. YA (Sept. 7th, 2010)

Designated Ugly Fat Friend. Every group has one.
By all accounts I should dislike all the characters in The Duff. They are abrasive, shallow, promiscuous, and na├»ve. But here’s the thing about labels….not everyone lives up to them.
Bianca hits the Nest – a teen lounge with her gorgeous best friends Casey and Jessica, who dance, have fun and try to score with the hot boys while Bianca plays the part of cynic/party pooper sipping her Cherry Coke at the bar.
Resident school stud and man-whore (that’s the second one I’ve read about this week – and is it wrong that I liked both of them??) Wesley walks right on up to Bianca and lets her know she’s “The Duff” in her group of friends. He sits down next to her and informs her that by gracing her with his presence it will show his sensitivity and double his chances of getting some with one of her hot friends on the dance floor. Don’t worry – he’s not all bad. By being seen with him he’s helping to elevate her status too. What a guy! She throws her coke in his face.
Bianca is a great protagonist. She’s smart, funny and doesn’t take crap from anyone. She also doesn’t buy into true love, school proms or Valentine’s Day – a true cynic. She’s been hurt before and her parents aren’t providing a much better example. However, she’s also isolated, jaded and not that great of a friend - lying and closing herself off from those who care about her.
She’s always running. One night she runs directly to Wesley for comfort.
He makes her forget everything. She proposes a friends (enemies?) with benefits proposition. Wesley is totally on board! She becomes addicted to having sex with him but is still mean to him….because she still hates him of course.
So you can see why I shouldn’t like these people. The best friends are stereotypical also. One’s a tall blond cheerleader – the other overly perky and sunshiny all the time – gag.
But here is where Keplinger’s writing shines. She takes something that should totally tick me off – and it has in SOOO many YA books recently and made me fall in love with and root for these two.
What starts off as just sex turns into something more. Bianca started this fling with Wesley to escape her emotions and he knows she’s using him to run away from something and is ok with that - but he becomes an unlikely hero in her life. What will she do now that it’s her feelings for Wesley that she needs to run from?
I love how everything between them started off so fierce and hungry but turned into two people really opening themselves up for the first time. Stripping away all the protective layers. Challenging each other to be more than just the labels attached to them. It was a relationship written in reverse.
The friendships are solid too and I ended up liking everyone in this book. Again – Keplinger did a wonderful job providing layers to all the characters instead of just making them adhere to tired stereotypes.
I also liked that she tackled some pretty tough subjects without it coming off heavy handed or preachy. Teen sex & its consequences, alcoholism, divorce to name just a few.
A really brilliant debut novel by Kody Keplinger who was only 17 years old at the time of writing this! Maybe that’s why the language rings true and is so raw, rather than sounding forced and pretentious. I can’t wait to see what else she writes.
Loved: Wesley – I <3 him! The character development. There are some pretty steamy scenes going on for a YA – hoo-boy!
Nitpick: I would have loved to get more of a glimpse at Wesley’s POV. I was able to tell what he was thinking/feeling but I would have really liked to know at what was going on in his head at a few key moments.

Rating: 3.8 out of 4! LOVED this book!

Be sure to come Thursday to read my interview with Kody!!

Author's website:
Follow Kody on Twitter: @Kody_Keplinger
Buy the book!The DUFF: (Designated Ugly Fat Friend)
Source: Borrowed from Lena at Addicted 2 Novels - Thank You Lena!!


  1. Great review, I love it when you think your not going to empathise or even like some characters and then suddenly you do, that's an indication of excellent writing. I have to read this book, I can't wait until it's released.

  2. great review and love when auhors tackle tough issues

  3. lovely detailed review! i can't wait to read the DUFF :)

  4. Sounds like great teenage drama I can get into! Nice review :)

  5. awesome review, karen! sounds like a keeper :)

  6. Wait... "The DUFF" isn't out yet? No wonder I can't find it in the library, xD

    I love the title. It says Genre Savvy and sounds as if it holds no stereotype sacred, and that always makes me sit up straight with "must read!" eagerness. But it sounds a bit heavy on romance for my taste... so I sit now on a fence, undecided as to whether I'll read it or not.

    I really enjoyed the review, Karen; it's helped me form a clear, mental picture of the novel - something I've been in eager search of since hearing about "The DUFF" a week or so ago.

  7. Entish - This isn't your typical sappy teenage romance. It's gritty and soemtimes uncomfortable. I'm guessing that The Duff might be one of those polarizing love/hate type of books. There is some pretty iresponsible behavior but for me it was real and made sense. Obviously I am on the "love" side :-) It comes out September 7th - I'll have to go add that - thanks for the reminder!

  8. I'm excited to read this. I'm glad this isn't the sappy teenage romance, that gets irritating after a while. I hope my library carries it.

  9. I feel the same. She wasn't that good of a friend!
    Love this book, too and gave it 4.5 stars. :-)
    Great review. I like how you bring your point across in this #easygoing way.
    _yay_ @ BookthatThing
    Have you entered my giveaway? If you like the Night Huntress series it might be for you. A unique vampire PNR. Ebook

  10. Loved Bianca as well, she was awesome.
    Thanks for review,
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog