The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

Review: The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

YA, whenever I turn to it, it is so I can read something easy. I don’t value it for it’s strong messages or literary genius (perhaps excluding Harry Potter) I value it for its escapism. It’s like watching a sitcom, you never really have to think. This is why I enjoy YA, I’m not saying it’s intrinsically mindless.

“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.” GoodReads.

If you need a quick read, slight escapism and a need to not analyse a story too much, this is an ideal book for you. It’s not often I review books that I find problematic, and rare that I recommend them regardless.

The DUFF is a high school drama set amidst teenage sex, alcoholism, and divorce. It tackles some interesting topics and depicts teenage life with a fair amount of realism. It has a good attitude toward teenage sex, which didn’t feel out of place or sensational.

DUFF stands for Designated Fat Ugly Friend, a term the ‘player’ antagonist, Wesley, calls girls whom befriending get him in with their hot friends. Over the course of the story Bianca, our gobby protagonist, uses Wesley to escape her problems and eventually they fall in love. It’s a beauty is in the eye of the beholder tale, and perfect for any young girl who worries that not being conventionally attractive will mean no one will love them.

Unfortunately, this story lacks depth or fully formed characters. While I enjoyed its encouragement of sobriety and safe sex, some of it’s conclusions felt problematic. The clichés are rife. But, I didn’t read this book for literary acumen, I read it to be entertained and distracted, and it was ideal for that.

Read any good YA recently?

 

9 thoughts on “Review: The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

  1. Yes, lots! Frances Hardinge’s Cuckoo Song (which I suppose might be younger than YA really) and Holly Black’s The Darkest Part of the Forest were two good YA books for me recently. I wanted to hug them both. Although not all YA serves the “entertain and distract” purpose, there are definitely many YA books that do, and it can be a lovely break to read those, especially when you are feeling a trifle blue.

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    1. I’ll keep those two in mind for when I need a mental break. After I posted this I remembered Noughts and Crosses, that’s definitely not a YA book I read to be distracted.

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  2. I’m so glad someone feels the same way about YA! I often turn to it for a bit of escapism. Mind you, I have been planning to read Noughts and Crosses too, which definitely doesn’t seem like an escapist novel.

    I remember reading The DUFF a few years ago; I can’t for the life of me remember what I thought of it, though. I have seen the trailers for the movie adaptation recently, though, and I must admit they look pretty unconvincing.

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    1. No, Noughts and Crosses was an interesting experience, certainly not escapist.

      The DUFF film looks like it’s diverged greatly from the book, which is disappointing because it looks like they removed some of the elements I actually enjoyed.

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  3. This book shows up a lot on my ‘recommendations’ for good reads. I can’t actually find it here so have never read it. I actually read a lot of YAY, nearly exclusively.. I like that it doesn’t have the typical storyline of ‘chick lit’ and isn’t too heavy and usually has some sort of lesson.

    Maybe I’ll try find this again 🙂

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