Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Book Review:The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) by Kody Keplinger


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 "Duffy," she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren't so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that 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.


The Short Version:
Funny and emotional and hitting on so many issues relevant to teenagers, Keplinger's debut has a little of everything. With a well developed cast of characters, brilliant insight into the issues at hand, and a unique presentation for it, The DUFF will worm its way into the heart of many. Bianca and Wesley's relationship and reliance on each other is both intriguing and heartbreaking. The several story arcs that run throughout this book weave together seamlessly and tie up for a fantastic ending.

The Extended Version:
Bianca is cynical and guarded, keeping most everyone at a distance. Weary of love and uninterested in much of what her peers and friends are, she comes off as a bit of an outsider. Bianca is hard to connect with at first, though given her small circle of friends, this isn't surprising. Right away, Bianca is introduced to the concept of being the "duff," or the Designated Ugly Fat Friend. Though she wants to blow this off, considering the playboy who tells it to her, Bianca has a hard time not noticing all the ways she is physically unimpressive compared to her two best friends. The circling thoughts and their constant presence is frustrating for Bianca, and gutting for the reader.

With a home life that isn't ideal and getting more complicated, Bianca finds an escape in someone: Wesley Rush, the same boy who called her the duff. Her distaste for him is clear and often comical in delivery, but the underlying hurt comes through just as strongly. As their relationship becomes physical, it is clear what a train wreck this is destined to be but Keplinger does a fantastic job explaining Bianca's reasoning without excusing it in the end. It is through this that Bianca's character really starts to grow and develop, and she comes full circle and is a truly three dimensional character by the end.

Wesley is a cocky jerk who can sweet talk his way into just about any girl's bed, and Bianca sees right through his seemingly sweet words. The quips and banter between the two are well written and smooth, never seeming forced or there just to try to lighten things. But Wesley has his own emotional baggage and pain, and as things with Bianca progress and feelings start to change, this aspect of him comes through more. Wesley, too, makes fantastic changes and growth through the course of the novel, at his own pace and in his own way.

Keplinger holds nothing back in the emotions of this story, nor does she close the curtain on the intimacy between Bianca and Wesley. She writes some steamy scenes in, each one a little different than the last. There truly is a difference between raunchy and steam, and she hits on the latter even in the early, less than ideal moments between the pair.

No matter their physical looks, everyone from teenage to adult has times where they've felt like the weakest link of the group. Maybe not what the initial for DUFF actually stand for, but they've felt like they were the one there to make the others look good. Using and expanding on this, Keplinger has written a raw and beautiful tale of body issues, using flawed but realistic characters to do so.

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Poppy (September 7, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316084239
ISBN-13: 978-0316084239


  1. Great review. I loved this book too! The dialogue did flow very nicely and I loved how perfectly imperfect the characters were.

  2. Just finished reading this book and I agree with everything you say. I absolutely loved it and I even wanted to reread it so I could dive back into the characters lives. I found myself falling in love with Wesley and was rooting for him the whole time. I also like how Bianca wasn't the typical Damsel in distress she had attitude, spunk and was fabulously snarky.

  3. I loved this one as well, so I'm glad to hear you liked it.

  4. i always really hated the premise of this book for some reason...probably because i don't like the cover..

    but re-reading the summary and how much you liked it...i may give it a chance

    great review!