Monday, November 22, 2010

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

The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend)
Author: Kody Keplinger
Publisher: Little Brown
Series: N/A
Pages: 288
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: September 7, 2010
How Received: Won 

Summary: 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 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.

My Thoughts:
I picked up The Duff because I wanted a light-hearted read, and someone had recommended it to me as such. It was definitely that, and more (the romance seriously made me giddy a couple of times there!). A word of forewarning for those of you who screen books: this book uses f-bombs and other vulgar words out there like they’re toilet paper.

Bianca was such a lovely character to read. Not because I love cynical girls, but because she wasn’t your typical Mary-sue goody-two-shoes. I enjoyed reading her narrative because it was so far, yet so close, to how I would react or how I’d think in certain situations. She’s level-headed and attempts to rationalize through things as best as she can, even though she hates nearly everything. But the best part about Bianca? She makes mistakes. A lot of them. I loved the realism to her character, because girls do sometimes forget about their friends when they have a new love interest or other things going on. They have boy problems and hate the world and have self-esteem issues, and when you’re a teenager, it’s a very confusing time. I loved how well these issues translated into Bianca’s character. The only thing I didn’t like that involved Bianca was that we really never got to form our own opinions of her. Kody gave us adjectives to describe Bianca (like cynical, blunt, stubborn, smart, etc.) and usually when I’m explicitly given adjectives for a character, I never get a feel for who that character is. Small dislike, but dislike nonetheless.

Wesley, the main love interest (sort of? lol), was equally as intriguing as Bianca, and I’m a bit sad we didn’t get to see more of him. I enjoyed reading about him every single time, because the one thing he was is unpredictable. He had so many dimensions to him—it was almost like we were looking at a person with a very blatant public face and private face. On the outside, he’s confident, arrogant, man-whorish, and a jerk. On the inside, he’s gentle, caring, a great listener, lonely, and just wants to be accepted for who he is.

I really, really wish we had gotten more romance from Wesley and Bianca. I mean, what we got was great, but I wanted more! Their “fling” starts off with a bang and gets rolling right away, but their gradual interest with each other was what I loved the best. Bianca initially hates Wesley, but he grows on her after a time, and it was a refreshing change of pace in comparison to other novels. At the end, I couldn’t help but be giddy with everything Wesley was throwing at Bianca. That “Wesley Rush does not chase after girls, but...” line at the end had me going nuts! (I got giddy again right now just thinking about it!)

Mostly, I think this book was great for the message it delivered. Names like DUFF (which stands for Designated Ugly Fat Friend), or slut, or bitch, etc, are hurtful, even when they aren’t meant in a mean way. Even the strongest of girls will be put down, no matter how much they deny it doesn’t hurt them. And also, everyone will feel like a DUFF at one point in their lives. I know I have, and I still do. Beauty is subjective, and while you think your best friend is the most gorgeous person on the planet, she might think she looks hideous. But perhaps being the Duff is also a good thing, because it means you have friends to be compared to; you’re not alone, and that’s what matters.

Cover Musings: The cover is what grabbed me, really. I mean, huge DUFF splayed across the entire cover and partially covering the girls face. How could I not be intrigued? Then I got close enough to see what DUFF meant (Designated Ugly Fat Friend), and was sold. I had never heard of this term before, so props to the design team for piquing my interest.

Memorable Quotes:
“You, darling, are the Duff.”
“Is that even a word?”
“Designated. Ugly. Fat. Friend,” he claried. “No offense, but that would be you. It’s not like you’re an ogre or anything, but in comparison...” He shrugged his broad shoulders. “You have hot friends... really hot friends.” He paused, watching the action on the dance floor for a moment, before facing me again. “The point is, scientists have proven that every group of friends has a weak link, a Duff. And girls respond well to guys who associate with their Duffs.” (pg. 6)
 “I know you hate him,” she continued. “I wanted to make sure you were fine... and that he was okay, too. You didn’t, like, stab the boy, did you? I mean, I totally disapprove of murdering hotties, but if you need help burying the body, you know I’ll bring the shovel.” (pg. 72-73)
 When we reached the door of the unused janitor’s closet, I had no feeling of shame... not yet, at least.
I grasped the doorknob and noticed Wesley’s eyes narrow with suspicion. I yanked open the door, checked that no one was watching, and gestured for him to go inside. Wesley walked into the tiny closet, and I followed, shutting the door stealthily behind us.
“Something tells me this isn’t about The Scarlet Letter,” he said, and even in the dark I knew he was grinning. (pg. 83)
 “But I was wrong,” she said. “I thought I could escape from my problems, but I was so wrong, Bianca. No matter where you go or what you do to distract yourself, reality catches up with you eventually.” (pg. 125-126)
 The lump wasn’t going away. It just kept growing. All of my worries and fears had been leading up to this moment, and I couldn’t fight them back anymore. I couldn’t keep them bottled up. Tears started gushing down my cheeks, and before I knew it I was sobbing.
How had this happened? It felt like a bad dream.
I felt like my world was finally spinning out of control. And this time, I couldn’t deny it. I couldn’t ignore it. And I definitely couldn’t escape it. (pg. 173)
 That was something we all had in common. We were all sluts or bitches or prudes or Duffs.
I was the Duff. And that was a good thing. Because anyone who didn’t feel like the Duff must not have friends. Every girl feels unattractive sometimes. Why had it taken me so long to figure that out? Why had I been stressing over that dumb word for so long when it was so simple? I should be proud to be the Duff. Proud to have great friends who, in their minds, were my Duffs. (pg. 257)

Overall Thoughts/Final CommentsThis was the perfect book to break me out of my sad funk lately. It had a very light-hearted premise. While it dealt with a few deep issues, it didn’t delve too far or get me too depressed reading about it. The Duff had some very strong messages about self-esteem, and I would recommend it to any teenager (that doesn’t mind excessive swearing). The romance was cute, and Wesley was so amazing from every angle. Not only does this book have great messages to deliver, but it screams realism at you – I loved Bianca, her outlet with Wesley, her gradual romance with him, her two best friends. This book was just plain honest and it was done well.

Rating: 5/5

**I submitted this review to the 2010 Debut Author Challenge!


Caroline said...

Wow, great review! I haven't picked this one up yet, but now I have good reason to. :)

Jamie said...

Great review! I just put a request for this one in through my library system...Now I can hardly wait until it arrives!

Emi said...

I saw this in the store the other day and I was really tempted to pick it up. IF ONLY YOU HAD POSTED YOUR REVIEW BEFORE! A trip into town is in order now. I love characters who are real and make mistakes and realize that not everyone is who they appear to be. Such a wonderful lesson (sames goes for the name calling lesson), but its not nearly expressed enough in literature.
*bows down to you* Again, you have just made my TBR list longer. Lovely review! <3

LunaMoth said...

wow, sounds quite good actually. great review =) if i see this at books a million ill pick it up.

Jenny said...

I adore your reviews Kristina, they're so much fun to read! I can't wait to read this book, I love the sound of Bianca and I'm so glad she's a real character, one that makes mistakes. Wesley sounds very interesting, I love that you called him man-whorish:) Thanks so much for all your insightful thoughts, this one is moving up my list!

Kristina Barnes♥ said...

@Caroline: Definitely! I hope you do pick it up - it was such a lovely read!

@Jamie: Awesome! I can't wait til you receive it; I'd love to hear your thoughts on it! ;)

@Emi: LOL. I couldn't have posted my review before - I hadn't read it until Thursday! Bianca makes a LOT of mistakes, and I love her all the more for it. The messages in this book were amazing; I'd totally give it to my daughter (imaginary daughter, ofc) to read. :) Anywhoo, just doin' my job - makin' your TBR longer. ;D

@Luna: It is quite good! To be honest, I didn't expect to like The Duff as much as I did. I ended up loving it! Let me know if you read it! :)

@Jenny: Aw, Jenny! I love receiving your comments. <3 I loved Bianca as well - she's smart and level-headed, but she makes mistakes along with the rest of us. And... LOL! Wesley really is man-whorish - it's how he's described in the novel. He sleeps with everyone, hah. :) I was almost sure you had already read this book! I can't wait to see what you think of it when (not if ;)) you read it! :)

Cialina at said...

Oh man! Your favorite quotes just made me so excited to read this one!!! I'm so tempted to buy/borrow it but I have so many books on my pile right now!!! (Not to mention school...)

Thanks for following! Your comment was really helpful... Other non-Blogger sites seem to use GFC as well so I'm hoping it will work. I'm also following you now as well! I'm looking forward to reading your posts!!! Nice to meet some friendly bloggers out there. :)

Book Kritik said...

Oh shiznits! I never noticed that DUFF was an acronym! I have seen this book before and have contemplated on whether I should read it but after reading your review I guess it cant hurt! Thanks for the review!

Jessica Lawlor said...

Awesome! You liked it!

I'm reading it this week and I've heard such mixed reviews, I'm wondering where I'll fall!

Ashlie Swainston said...

Uggggh!!! Another book I now HAVE to read!!! I walked away from this one in the store and now you've convinced me I have to read it! Geez, thanks Kristina! ;)

Joseph P. said...

The DUFF book advocates healthy messages, like safe sex and positive self-image. Highly recommended! Just give it a shot!

Kitchen Benchtops

Loraine said...

You have a nice review! Here's mine:

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


Marlene Detierro said...

I would so recommend this book to any teen or to anyone who is sick of the same boring love story that's been told a thousand times.
The DUFF is the kind of book that never leaves your mind even after its done, the kind that you dream about when you finally finish at one a.m. and the kind where you compare the people you know to the characters and the kind that makes you dream of someday when you can find love like this.
And the kind of book that inspires me.

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