Book Review: The Duff by Kody Keplinger

Jul 12

Book Review

I have been the Duff. You have been the Duff. But no one has to stay the Duff forever, according to Kody Keplinger’s The Duff. In fact, Bianca Piper didn’t know she was the Designated Ugly Fat Friend until man-whore Wesley Rush with the perfect “Greek god body” informs her while her best friends, Casey and Jessica, “shake their asses like dancers in a rap video” at The Nest. Apparently, talking to her makes him seem more approachable and gets him better access to her “hot” friends, thus increasing his chances of getting laid. Wesley Rush does not chase girls. Girls chase Wesley Rush.

Bianca absolutely cannot imagine being with Wesley for any reason until everything on her mind needed to be not on her mind. Her ex, Jake, who also happens to be Jessica’s big brother, is coming back in town with his fiancé and her mom sucker-punching a divorce on her once alcoholic dad right before dropping by for a visit after being away for months giving speeches on her self- help book are just a couple of the things on her mind. Not to mention there’s her crush, Toby Tucker, whom she’s liked forever and just found out he’s already taken. Maybe it was all the Cherry Cokes she was drinking that clouded her judgment, but she ends up using the exact man-whore she absolutely despises for sex as an escape from all her problems. Wesley, of course, is cool with this arrangement, that is, until the escape causes a brand new problem of its own, one Bianca could never have predicted and threatens Wesley to break the only rule he follows.

I like that this book dives in head-first onto the topic of labels. The main character, Bianca, learns at the end that there is no point in labelling anyone because she doesn’t really know each person that well to label them one thing in the first place. There are so many sides to a person it’s wrong to judge them on one thing. I like that this book introduces a label I had never heard of before, but now that I have, I know I can relate to it and have been that label before as well. Keplinger helped me identify a phase of my life that I didn’t even know I was going through at the time. In addition, Keplinger does not glorify sex in the end and she is able to show this through Bianca when Bianca realizes she could have easily been in Vikki’s place, worried about getting pregnant or STD’s. It is always a good thing when a novelist incorporates reality and doesn’t pretend life is a fairy tale.

That brings me to what I don’t like. I don’t like the teens in this book using the word “ass” a lot and I don’t like the lots of sex in this book. It makes me sad that sex was used as an escape for problems in a teen’s life, but I guess I also didn’t have the “typical” high school experience and it was probably going on in my high school and I was just unaware. In fact, if I went to Hamilton High, I bet I would have been labelled a “prude.” Sex at the beginning of the novel was talked about so casually and happened so easily between Bianca and Wesley that it was a little too much for me to take in. I have always known that I lived a sheltered life in high school, but this book opened my eyes to exactly how much. The sad thing is, I’m pretty sure this book is one of the more “innocent” story tellings of high school.

Don’t get me wrong though. This was an overall enjoyable read, but it was a more enjoyable movie. I think this is the first time I thought the movie was better than the book. There was a lot less sex in the movie and Bianca was a lot more funny and witty as well as had a little more depth to her character than the book I felt. I still wanted to read until the end and still had the feeling that I had to find out what happens and who ends up with who so it’s got that going for it as well. Ironically, in a way, it’s a light escape from your problems and reminds you that drama is only fun when it’s not happening to you.