Tuesday, September 7, 2010

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
I was interested in The DUFF for two reasons 1) the positive reviews I'd seen so far 2) The DUFF is Keplinger's debut title and thus qualifies for the 2010 Debut Author Challenge. I'm really glad I gave this one a go! The DUFF falls into one of my favorite genres, realistic YA fiction and Keplinger should know a little something about the genre seeing how she still IS a teen!

To understand the book you have to understand the theory behind being the DUFF. The DUFF is that one girl in a group of friends who, in comparison to her friends, is the "ugly" one. As Wesley, The DUFF's unlikely hero, explains that the DUFF isn't necessarily hideous, she just happens to be the least attractive among her friends.

When I first read about the premise I was kind of taken aback. How, I wondered, would the author redeem a man-whoring guy calling girls DUFFs? How would the author manage not to offend all of us DUFFs?! Easy, pretty much everyone thinks they're a DUFF. When Bianca explains the theory behind the DUFF to her gorgeous BFF, Casey, she refutes Bianca's status as the DUFF insisting that she is the DUFF. Citing her height as her major flaw and insisting that guys are not interested in her because of her Amazonian stature.

Keplinger realistically navigates the inner workings of female friendships and insecurities. I think a lot of girls (and women) can relate to Bianca. How many of us belong to a group of friends where we feel like the "ugly" one? Chances are, one or more of your friends are feeling the exact same thing.

Another reason I liked Bianca is because of her snarkyness. If this book were an episode of Sex and the City Bianca would definitely be Miranda. The smart ass, cynic who doesn't take shit from anyone. Perhaps, I enjoyed this book so much because I see a lot of myself reflected in Bianca. Now, if I can just find my own Wesley....

Speaking of the devil, Wesley was a really decent guy. Sure he started off on the wrong foot, calling her a DUFF and all, that certainly was a shitty move. But throughout the novel he proved to be much more than the self absorbed man-whore Bianca had pigeonholed him as. I think he genuinely had no idea that calling Bianca "Duffy" was so hurtful to her. Boys. Sigh. As the reader though we notice, at least I did, Wesley's lack of man-whoring when he's with Bianca. Sure we see him flirting with another girl. But I think Wesley fell for Bianca earlier than she could have imagined. Even from the first kamikaze kiss, he's like... "Wow." I really enjoyed Wesley and Bianca's bantering. It made me laugh and I really enjoyed their interactions.

I didn't always like Bianca. She's going through a tough time,what with her parents divorce and her Dad's falling off the wagon, but there are several instances when she knows she's being a shitty friend. She even says thing a long the lines of "Wow, I'm being a bitch" and "I'm a shitty friend." But she doesn't really even attempt to do anything about it.

So, on one hand I like that she recognizes that she's failing at her friend duties. On the other hand, I was somewhat annoyed that she didn't make more of an effort to be a better friend. But I totally understand where she's coming from. Sometimes you have so much shit going on in your own life that you recognized you're neglecting another aspect of your life but you don't have the time or energy to deal with it.

Lastly, I enjoyed the amount of cussing, snarkyness, and sex in this novel. I hope Keplinger is prepared for her book to be challenged. I can see that in this book's future. None of it bothered me, I found it realistic but not over the top, however I'm sure there are going to be some parents complaining. And for those of you who don't read YA because of the lack of sexy bits, this book might be for you! There's enough sex without crossing the line into too much detail.

Overall, The DUFF was smart, funny, sexy and realistic. I would put Keplinger in the ranks of Sarah Dessen and Elizabeth Scott and I'm looking forward to more books from this author!
Disclosure: I received this ARC from the publisher. I did not receive any compensation for this review.


  1. I've yet to read this, but the positive reviews make me think I should! Great review :)

  2. I want to read this book. It's one of those books that has stayed steady at the top of my TBB list. Once I'm not drowning in bills, I'll pick this one up. Thanks for the review sweetie.

  3. Thanks Melissa, it was a great read!

    Wena, def get this one, I think you'll enjoy it!

  4. You've made me very curious about this book-I'm almost tempted to read it, and I generally just read paranormal YA books.

  5. You have a nice review! Here's mine: http://lorxiebookreviews.blogspot.com/2012/07/the-duff-designated-ugly-fat-friend-by.html

    Thank you very much, have a nice day! :)



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