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.
I read this book awhile ago. Due to events this month, I’m only now getting around to writing the review.
I liked The Duff, but it wasn’t what I was expecting by any means.
Let’s get this out of the way, my interest for this book was piqued when I saw the movie trailer.
Yeah, the trailer seemed a bit cliche and sort of reminded me of those teen movies in the late nineties-She’s All That, Ten Things I Hate About You, etc. And you know what, I was absolutely fine with that. So, yeah when I ordered the book I thought mindless fluff. But you know what, the book actually had substance and I was surprised.
I don’t think the movie is going to have substance though. And that’s okay too…but we’re not talking about the movie today, are we?
As I said before, there was substance to the book that I wasn’t expecting. In fact, I would dare say that this was a borderline gritty realistic YA novel-but without subsequent amounts of Lifetime drama. Oh, there was some Lifetime drama, but it wasn’t roll your eyes worthy melodrama. It was, okay this is a believable book type of drama.
One of the reasons I avoided this book for as long as I did, was that I suspected that the Duff aspect-i.e. the being called the designated ugly fat friend-was going to play a huge role in the novel. Honestly, it really didn’t. Oh, sure, it was mentioned. But other than causing the main character to interact with her future love interest, it really didn’t serve that big of a role in the novel.
What was more of a role was Bianca’s issues with her family, and relationship issues. I actually liked the no strings attached relationship that develops between Wesley and Bianca. It’s something that’s not seen typically in the genre, and it made for an interesting set up.
Also, I loved that Bianca had romantic baggage-but not the Lifetimey/New Adult type of baggage. Watching a character work through issues that could very well effect anyone made for an interesting read. Bianca’s reactions were for the most part pretty realistic, given her situation.
Grant it, this wasn’t a perfect book. There was a bit of slut slamming-to Bianca’s own friends nevertheless-and I felt parts of the pacing were a bit rushed. That aside, I do think I’ll probably read some of Keplinger’s books in the future.
What I liked about The Duff was that it was so realistic. I might’ve thought I’d be getting a light, frothy, Meg Cabot-y book, but it was very different than what I expected and honestly I think it was for the best.
Overall Rating: A solid B.