Thursday, September 23, 2010

Book Review: The Duff by Kody Keplinger

The DUFF: (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) by Kody Keplinger
Publisher: Poppy (Hachette Book Group)
Publication date: September 2010
ISBN: 9780316084239

Source: ARC provided by Traveling ARC Tours

The DUFF: (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) 

Bianca is satisfied hanging out with her two gorgeous friends and playing the smart, if cynical one in their trio.  Until Wesley, the school's biggest womanizer and jerk, calls her the Duff - designated ugly fat friend.  That name sticks in her mind and starts wearing down her confidence.  When things start to get too difficult to think about - what with being the Duff, dealing with her parent's decaying relationship, and the boy who broke her heart coming back to town - she has a surprising reaction to Wesley; she kisses him.  When she realizes that helped her forget about everything for a moment, they start up an enemy-with-benefits relationship that seems to help her deal.  Until she starts to learn more about the jerk Wesley and maybe begins to understand him more. 

Things I Liked:
This was one of those un-put-down-able books.  I couldn't look away from the disasters that happened in Bianca's life.  It really felt like what I assume a Gossip Girls episode is like (and I really have never watched one).  There is something about it that sucks you in and you have to find out if Bianca ever figures out how to deal with all that's going on in a different way.   A more healthy way. 
I read it almost entirely in one day.  I'd say it was enlightening and allowed me to see things through the eyes of someone who thinks very differently than myself.  And to see myself in the eyes of people who I think are so different from myself, but maybe aren't so much.  Bianca's snarky tone was a lot of fun sometimes - it helped to lighten the mood of the book too.  Oh, and I just loved the friendship between Bianca and her two girl friends.  They had a depth that I wasn't expecting.  Some fun quotes:
I hated the place for the simple reason that it made my friends, who could be somewhat sensible most of the time, act like idiots.  But in their defense, they weren't the only ones.  Half of Hamilton High showed up on the weekends, and no one left the club with their dignity intact. p 2 of ARC
After thinking about it for a while, I decided that there were a lot of benefits to being the Duff.  Benefit one: no point in worrying about your hair or makeup.  Benefit two: no pressure to act cool - you're not the one being watched.  Benefit three: no boy drama. p 57 of ARC
You didn't, like, stab the boy, did you?  I mean, I totally disapprove of murdering hotties, but if you need help burying the body, you know I'll bring the shovel. p 72-73 of ARC
Things I Didn't Like:
Honestly, while I finally did understand and even agree that Bianca's reaction to her family problems and other difficulties was believable, I still struggled with her choices.  It is just NOT what I wanted her to do, which obviously didn't change the basic facts or merit of the book.  It broke my heart to watch her so callously treat herself and Wesley, thinking it wouldn't make a dent on her emotional state.  Also, while the book had an excellent point about learning to love ourselves and not looking down on other people whose motivations and history we know nothing about, it seemed a bit heavy-handed.  The messages were sort of pounded in and very obviously repeated when Bianca finally "got" it.  Could have been a little more subtle.  I'm probably not the best audience for this one, since I know I've seen a lot of rave reviews for it.  Still, an impressive debut from one whose memory of this age is more fresh than my own. :)

Reminded me of The Real Real by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

Maybe a little like North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley

s-factor: !@#$%!
almost made me put down the book, there were so many f-bombs

mrg-factor: XXX
casual and frequent incidents, some rather descriptive

v-factor: ->
one domestic violence incident

Overall rating: ***

Is this the kind of book you think you'd enjoy?  Why or why not?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage


  1. Yes, I would enjoy it and yes I'm adding it to my list of to be read someday! (But yuck on the f-bombs.)

  2. I'm so curious about this book. Thanks for the review!

  3. I just finished this yesterday and it was not at all what I expected. I think Keplinger's a decent writer, but I couldn't stand most of her characters and the constant profanity and such casual talk about teenagers having sex just drove me nuts! Even still, like you, I couldn't look away from the disasters I knew were coming.

    Thanks for the review. I need to get mine written ...

  4. Such a balanced, well written review, Melissa. I've been wondering about this one for ages and whether or not my taste would align with that of the early reviews I've seen. I get the impression I would agree wholeheartedly with yours. Thanks for the review!

  5. I tried reading this one and hated it, so I didn't finish. Not my type of book at all!

  6. I this this cover would appeal to a lot of teenagers so I am intrigued to see how it would appeal to my cousin but the f-bombs, not a fan (but they probably are!) ;)

  7. Suey, I'd be interested in what you think when you get to it...

    Brodi, hope it helped you decide if you wanted to read it or not.

    Susan, I'll be watching for yours - I love the depth you go into on your reviews. Glad to know I wasn't the only one who didn't like the characters much :)

    Angie, thank you! I try very hard to be balanced, but don't always achieve it.

    Brenda, I might not have finished it if it wasn't for the Traveling ARC Tour. Then again, I had a hard time putting it down, so maybe I would have anyway!

    Amused, I'm sure it was quite realistic in its swearing, but it sure starts to bother me after the first 50 in half as many pages :) I'd like to know what teens think of it too!


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