First off, let me start off by saying that this book is the reason my skin got all wrinkly and I probably acquired heat stroke from reading in the bath for hours (note: when I should have been doing many other things, like writing sequels and doing laundry and ironing my clothes for work). I couldn’t put The Duff down! It sucked me in right from the first page. And how could it not? It contained all the elements of a contemporary YA novel that typically make me read way too late into the night: awesome main character, gritty plot, hot boy, and some seriously steamy sex scenes (not the fade-to-grey stuff common in YA).
So thanks, Kody Keplinger! Thank you very much.
The premise of The Duff is this: Bianca Piper is a cynical, sarcastic seventeen-year-old who doesn’t put up with crap. When her high school’s man-whore, Wesley, calls her the Duff (Designated Ugly Fat Friend), she throws her Coke in his face. But as the stressors in Bianca’s life begin piling up, she surprises herself by kissing him. And liking it. She throws herself into a secret enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley as a distraction from her life. Awesome plan, right? Wrong. And cue obsessive bath-reading.
I adored this book.
Bianca is blunt and sarcastic and funny and relatable and overall a great narrator. There was only a very brief moment in the beginning of the book when I questioned the authenticity of her actions, but then I remembered some of the friends I had as a teenager (not me! I was a perfect angel—I’m strictly talking about my friends here) and I was like, wait, who am I kidding? This book is very honest. Sure, Bianca makes some terrible decisions, but don’t a lot of teenagers? And the sex and swearing isn’t gratuitous by a long shot. In fact, they're vital to the plot and to the lesson that the book teaches.
And Wesley. Oh, Wesley! He started out being such a jerk (he called her the Designated Ugly Fat Friend TO HER FACE) so that when she kissed him for the first time I wanted to slap her. But Keplinger does such a great job developing his character throughout the book that I quickly found myself rooting for him. He felt so real he leapt off the page. And don’t get me started on their chemistry. Their love-hate relationship had me squealing and laughing out loud and frantically flipping the pages well into the night.
There were a few threads that weren’t quite resolved to my liking, such as the Jake-the-ex-boyfriend thing, but I loved the entire book and especially the chemistry between Bianca and Wesley so much that I can only deduct a quarter of a star for that. The Duff is a solid 4.75 stars out of 5.
I could say more, but already this blog post is nearing on too long, so I’ll finish with this fact: Kody Keplinger was only 18 when she wrote this book. That makes me want to crawl into bed and whimper a little bit, because that’s SO not fair.