The DUFF by Kody Keplinger
Published On: September 7, 2010
Published By: Hodder
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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.
I had heard such mixed things about this book that I was very wary going into it, I didn't have high hopes. However, I enjoyed this way more than I was expecting to! A lot of the time it pays not to go into a book expecting great things and this was definitely the case for this. I spent much of the time I was reading this wondering what people found to dislike, but obviously everyone has different tastes.
Before I get into raving about it, I should quickly mention the one thing that stopped me giving this 5 stars - I struggled to get into it. Now I don't know if it was just due to me being a bit slumpy or whether the beginning of the book was just a bit slow but if that is my main fault with it, I think that's pretty good going.
The characters were a major strong point for this book. Bianca would be such an easy character to hate, if she wasn't so damn relatable. I couldn't help but love her! Her attitude and perception of the world, and life, I completely related to and I could definitely see a lot of myself in her. I loved her sarcasm and cynicism. She made the book even more enjoyable and even had me laughing out loud at times.
I also freaking loved Wes. If there's one thing I can't resist, it's a bad boy. He was definitely that boy that you should totally hate but he always knows the right thing to say or do to make you fall in love with him. And that's exactly what I did. I absolutely loved him as a character, even when he was being absolutely horrible and I knew that I should hate him for what he was doing.
I know a lot of people had a bit of an issue with the relationship, and that is the reason for a lot of negative review, but I thought it was great. I thought it was a very real teenage relationship, for once. There was no instalove. There was no 'light and fluffy' perfect beginning to a relationship, the kind you dream about. This was meaningless sex that escalated. I thought this was a far more honest and true representation of teenage relationships these days. Relationships don't always start with some perfect chance meeting and you fall in love the second you look into each others eyes - often it is something far from perfect, a situation like Wes and Bianca's.
The thing I loved most about this book, somewhat relating to my previous point, is the way teenagers are treated like actual teenagers. This is one of the few times in YA contemporary novels where I feel like teenagers are written as genuine teenagers. Teenagers have sex, drink alcohol and do other things they probably shouldn't be doing and those teenagers are not just those represented as the 'bad influences' in most YA contemporary novels. I loved the fact that Kody Keplinger didn't treat casual, supposedly meaningless, sex, in particular, as something restricted to the bad influences but instead as something a lot of people these characters' age are doing.
While Bianca's relationship with Wes and her friends are the main aspect of the story, the underlying family aspect of the story added a lot of depth. There are some very serious issues dealt with throughout this story which are not necessarily at the forefront of the story but were still incredibly important. These family issues helped to explain Bianca's character and her attitude, while also carrying an important message and adding another layer to the story.
Overall, this was a very enjoyable, funny read, with a great underlying message. Both the story and the characters had me laughing out loud. I would highly recommend this to anyone who loves a good rom-com, as this read a bit like a movie to me (lets not talk about the actual movie).