Tuesday 11 October 2011

Review: The DUFF By Kody Keplinger

In a sentence: A fun read that aims to achieve more than it does.

The DUFF tells the story of 17-year-old Bianca Piper, who is opinionated, snarky and super-close to her two gorgeous best friends. She begins to doubt herself when Wesley Rush, the hottest guy in school and resident man-whore, dubs her "the DUFF" (Designated Ugly Fat Friend). She also has issues at home, and when she's assigned to be Wesley's partner on a school project (natch) she turns to him for solace... in the form of sex. Yep, they become friends enemies with benefits, and so begins a complicated relationship with lots of complicated feelings.

I think the book had great potential, but it didn't quite make it there. The message of loving and accepting yourself is an awesome one, but was pushed a bit too hard at times, so we're told rather than shown, making it slightly less meaningful. The writing is solid and the story is unique and interesting, but the pacing felt a little off to me - for instance, it felt like Bianca went from throwing Coke in Wesley's face to jumping in bed with him in a matter of pages (i.e. way too quickly). The characters, too, are interesting and likable overall, but also really got on my nerves a few times. I loved the fact that Bianca is smart and sarcastic, but her snarkiness got a bit grating after a while and could come across as bitter and even nasty. Plus, for someone so cynical and opinionated, it was surprising that she got SO hung up on the Duff thing - and went along with Wesley even when he kept calling her that, without ever mentioning how much it hurt her. As for Wesley - he was totally adorable and swoon-worthy, but again didn't quite live up to how amazing he could have been. I was waiting for him to say or do certain things, and they never happened.

All these things aren't major complaints - it just means that instead of LOVING the book as I thought I would, I only liked it. I think a lot of it comes down to Keplinger's age - she was a teenager herself while writing it, and that's pretty damn amazing, but the book does feel a bit immature and lacking in perspective in places. Having said that, I'm excited to read more of Keplinger's work and see how she develops as a writer. All things considered, The DUFF is a great debut and I had a lot of fun reading it.

Rating: 3/5

Eye Candy
I pictured Kat Dennings as Bianca and Chace Crawford as Wesley.


Fine Print
Genre: Young Adult
Published: 2010
Publisher: Poppy Books
Get It: Book Depository


  1. Yeah, I get what you are saying, but the reason why I was able to buy Bianca jumping Wesley's bones so fast is because she had such a low self-esteem that was deeply embedded behind her snarky, tough girl facade.

    Like you, I didn't love The DUFF, but I still really enjoyed it.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Belle. You made some excellent points.

  2. I still haven't got to this one yet, it's on my shelf, though. Chace Craford...yum!

  3. @Missie - Thanks! I can see how it makes sense like that, I guess I just couldn't relate to her actions in that respect.

    @Jenny - It's a fun read but I think my expectations were too high. :)

  4. I've been hearing about this one for a while now, but (of course) haven't yet gotten to it. I think I'd have high expectations going in, too, but I suppose that Keplinger is very young, and (AFAIK), this is her debut. Maybe I'll be lenient. We'll see. :D

  5. @Stephanie, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it!

  6. I liked your review.