Michelle's Review: The Duff by Kody Keplinger

kkeplinger ARC: 288 pages
Publisher: Little Brown/Poppy
Language: English
Source of my copy: from the publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
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.

Michelle's Review:
The blurb do such a good job describing The Duff that I am not going to reiterate the plot again. But, wow, what an excellent debut novel from Kody Keplinger! After finishing this book, I went on research mode to find out more about The Duff and the author because, despite the very satisfying ending, I wasn't ready to leave Bianca, Wesley and all their friends yet.

Before starting this book, I was expecting a plot that focuses on teen weight issues and self-image--and it does some but this book is a whole lot more. From page one, I knew I was going to like sarcastic and snarky Bianca Piper and her friends, Casey and Jessica. Of course, once Bianca was introduced to the term "Duff" (designated ugly fat friend) and was sure that she's the Duff of her group of friends, I was there with her because I did feel I was the Duff with my group of friends. Bianca's insecurities were my insecurities and she puts herself down like I used to (okay, I still do it sometimes) put myself down. Suffice to say, I can relate to her character and see bits of myself in Bianca as well as her friends, which made this book a powerful read for me.

The romance aspect of this book had me sighing happily. I absolutely loved reading about the unconventional and tension-filled romance between Bianca and Wesley and I thought the author did a very good job with their "enemies-with-benefits" relationship that turned into something more. The dialogue (bickering and fighting) between the two was great and had me smiling. Wesley started out as a jerk and I wasn't sure what to make of him at first but as we learn more about him and the jerk exterior slowly dissipates, I find myself as much "in like" with Wesley as Bianca was. He's become one of my favorite young adult heroes, that's for sure.

This book deals with a lot of issues but one of the the most prominent is teen sex. I for one applaud the author in her treatment of this very sticky subject. Yes, Bianca and Wesley have sex in the book. No, this book doesn't read like a romance novel where the act is described in pages upon pages, but the author did not gloss over the controversial subject as many young adult authors are wont to do either. Instead, she presented it in what I thought an unflinchingly honest and realistic way. However, it will be up to each individual (young adult) reader to decide whether this book is appropriate for them. [My sister, who is 13 years old, skimmed through the book and she didn't think she'd be comfortable reading it right now--which is totally fine but in a couple of years I am definitely going to encourage her to give it another try.]

I thoroughly enjoyed this book--it was well-written, with relatable characters, funny, smart and just full of heart. The Duff has become one of my favorite contemporary young adult novel and I suspect I am going to be rereading it again in the near future. Kody Keplinger has penned a novel teens and adults alike can easily relate to and I am looking forward to more from her in the future. 5 out of 5 stars

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  1. Excellent review! I definitely want to read this one...had too many other books to buy this week though haha :)

  2. What an awesome review! :) Weight is such a hard thing to deal with and sooo many of us deal with it.

  3. I don't read a lot of YA, but I do have some YA in my "favorites" pile. The DUFF looks pretty good and I think I'm going to give this one a go. Nice review, thanks.

  4. A really amazing and thorough review. I got this book last week and hope to get to it this weekend. Now I can't wait!


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