Monday, August 13, 2012

Review: The Duff: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger

Hi all!

Here's another contemporary YA review.

Release date: 7th of June 2011
Published by: Hachette Book Group
Reading level: FICTION – JUVENILE: Contemporary, Romance, Slice of Life; YA
Pages: 280 in Paperback
Source: Bought from The Book Depository


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.

There were aspects I liked about this book and didn’t like.
I liked the concept – teenager trying to escape her problems by regularly sleeping with the guy who is responsible for one of the issues.
I liked the maturity – oh my! Teenagers having sex and lots of it too. Surprise surprise, but something you actually, or at least me, don’t come across in YA books a lot. It seemed kind of out of place what the heroine chose as her outlet, but a person’s mind works in mysterious ways and I guess being a spur of the moment thing at the beginning it helped her to focus entirely on something else than her issues.
I liked the idea of Bianca as the Duff – it’s cruel and can be extremely destructive but self-esteem problems are nothing new in a teenagers life, the smallest remark can lift or burry your self-worth. It was a realistic problem, not every teenager faces significant family concerns, etc, but how fragile your image of yourself is, is a day to day problem for many. I liked how Bianca dealt with this and how her journey regarding this was portrayed.
I didn’t like that the family issues in Bianca’s life didn’t seem as serious as they were in reality. The concern and situation never fully reached me and I couldn’t feel the appropriate sympathy for her. Maybe because the Duff problem was more prominent but I can’t really explain.
I didn’t like that some of the main characters would have benefited from more development and understanding. What made them how they were and why they acted the way they did?
Bianca: sarcastic, cranky, snappy, a disillusioned teenager with a negative attitude. This doesn’t really sound overly promising if you’re only just a teenager but I actually preferred Bianca as a girl who seemed jaded and tired of the superficial in life. It was a welcome change from the usual girls in YA books. Then again, to someone who seems so disappointed and treated roughly by life, she didn’t actually have significant issues to form her accordingly. She did face problems that appeared during the story (family issues, having someone call her the Duff) but otherwise, I didn’t really detect any huge reason she should be unhappy about and develop an attitude against. Her friends were always supportive and all around awesome and her family was loving. Even though she answered with same amount of loyalty and care, she was too bitter for some reason. I also didn’t enjoy how Bianca treated Wesley. Yes, he did deserve a big smack in the balls and more for calling her the Duff but it got old soon, especially after they started sleeping together. Overall, I liked Bianca as the heroine, she possesses many negative features but I like that she is unconventional and those traits just make her appear more outstanding.
Wesley was likeable but too slimy and smooth at times. I would have liked more insight into his character, especially regarding his reasons in his relationship with Bianca: why he liked her, what made him change because of her, what actually made him tick, etc. His family issues could have been delved into more deeper or left out, they weren’t explored as much as I would have enjoyed and thus were kind of left hanging in the air. What I utterly greatly incredibly loved was how he acted a typical insensitive guy not understanding how he deeply hurt Bianca with the Duff word, then seemed confused and apologized sincerely. Realistic, simple and sweet.
From the other characters: Bianca’s friends Casey and Jessica were the kind of friends you would like to have yourself and the bond between the three stayed strong even through hardships. I have mixed feelings for Bianca’s parents much, they came across as childish and egoistic next to their daughter’s general grown up view on life, but it was obvious they cared about and loved her.

A mature YA contemporary which tackles some universal issues quite nicely. A satisfying read!

3 stars!



  1. I've been thinking about picking this one up, and based on your review, I think this might be one I'd enjoy. Thanks!

  2. Sounds like one I might enjoy. Thanks for the review!