05 March 2015

Book Review: The Duff

I first heard of The DUFF at BEA 2010 during a YA panel including the author, Kody Keplinger. At the time, I didn't buy the book despite the fact I was intrigued. When I saw the trailer for the movie version a week or so ago, I decided to buy and read. I am very glad I did. Not only did I enjoy the book, I'm also rather fascinated in this particular adaptation.

First the book: Bianca Piper makes a spur of the moment decision and kisses Wesley Rush despite her sincere hatred of the entitled man-whore. From there, the sex-based relationship escalates as Bianca uses Wesley as a distraction from her less-than-perfect home life. But as she spends more time with Wesley, she realizes that he may be more than a simple distraction.

Bring on the unapologetic sex. Bianca uses Wesley; Wesley uses Bianca. Both are fully aware of the situation, and both are perfectly a-okay with it.

Even when the relationship becomes more than just sex, the transition is calm. One doesn't fall madly in love with the other and then subjugate him/herself to the other who has not yet realized his/her true feelings. Neither spends any great deal of time hiding their feelings from the other; in other words, we escape the lack of communication dilemma.

Another check in the plus column for me is the complete and utter lack of transformation in the main characters. Bianca doesn't suddenly pull out her pony tail, throw on a tight dress, and become the stereotypical pretty girl. Wesley doesn't hate being popular or feel like he is putting on this big show. And Wesley doesn't try to change Bianca into anything other than what she is, unlike so many other teen romance heroes.

The third point of awesome - there are NO MEAN GIRLS in this book. No perky, tan, thin. blonde, bitch is trying to hold Bianca down. Actually both of Bianca's best friends are attractive; one is even a cheerleader. And they are good, sweet, true friends. I hate mean girls. I don't mean I hate them in real life. I mean I hate the use of them in fiction because I don't believe these girls exist in real life - or if they do, they're only in like 1 in 100 high schools. And I think it's quite possible that they were only in 1 in 1000 before they became so popular in media.

These three reasons I love the book are also the three reasons I will probably hate the movie. I know next to nothing about the film version, but I'm willing to bet that the Bianca-Wesley sex-for-distraction plot line has been removed, and I bet Bianca pretties herself up a bit or at least Wesley suggests it, and I bet there are mean girls in the movie. Maybe I'm wrong, but I doubt it.

The one problem I had with the book is also more than likely absent in the film. SPOILER ALERT In the book, Bianca's parents are divorcing which causes her father to fall off the wagon (after 18 years). While drunk, he hits Bianca. It only happens once, and he is normally a very sweet man. This event is treated rather superficially in the book, functioning more as a bonding experience for Bianca and Wesley than a look at alcoholism. Let me guess, in the movie Bianca doesn't get hit by her drunk father....END SPOILER

Back to the book. If you haven't read it yet, I suggest you do - and definitely before watching the movie, if you plan on doing so. Anyone who has seen the movie, let me know if I should watch or not.


  1. I first heard about this at the same time as you (likely at the same conference session as you, heh), but I was turned off of it immediately. I didn't particularly like the author, cover, title, plot description...so many people say it's good, though, and it doesn't seem to be anything like my initial impressions. Maybe one day I'll cave and try it out. Not yet, though.

  2. Well gosh, guess I have to read this.

  3. After seeing the trailer for the movie, I didn't think this would be a YA book I'd be very interested in... but you've intrigued me! I love that there are no mean girls in the book -- that's a trope that gets old.

  4. See, based on the title and description of this book, I totally thought it was going to be the mean girl thing, the ugly girl isn't work as much as the pretty girls thing, the ugly girl gets used by the pretty girls and puts up with it to be in their orbit thing, or worse, ugly girl gets a makeover in which she stops wearing frumpy clothes and eyeglasses and is suddenly accepted because the popular guy wants to sleep with her thing. I'm relieved to be wrong! I might even give this a read...

  5. I have never picked this up, but have always wanted to. It seems like such a cliche premise, but I've been hearing that it's not at all which is great!

  6. I just realized that you and I must have both been at this event in 2010 because I first met her after that panel! I did buy her book there and did not like it as much s you but went to see the movie out of curiously and came out with a whole new attitude. :D See the movie! I would love to hear your thoughts!

  7. This book. WOW. Another soul-mate book. I decided to read it because of the movie trailer,BUT its NOTHING like the trailer. This book is deep and thought provoking.

  8. The Duff is a snarky and heartfelt novel that delves into issues of insecurities, self-esteem, and casual sex, but does it without overwhelming the reader. Innuendos line the pages, but the story is heartfelt and real. Bianca could be me, she could be you, she could be any girl in the world and that's what makes this story truly shine.


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