Wednesday, 8 September 2010

The Duff by Kody Keplinger

"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."

The Duff: Designated, Ugly, Fat Friend. Apparently every group has one, and according to Wesley Rush, hottie man-slut who doesn't mind everyone knowing it, Bianca Piper is the one within her group of three. Bianca knows she's not as pretty as either of her two best friends, but 'the Duff' is a lable she never considered and instantly loathes. Enough to throw her cherry coke on Wesley when he informs her of it. See, Wesley, who is considered the hottest guy in school, wants to get either (or possibly both) of Bianca's best friends in to bed. And apparently they're more likely to notice and care if he's seen to be paying attention to 'the Duff' of the group. Actually telling Bianca that's what she is and what he's doing though, is not a smart move. She hated him before, now she despises him.

But then a few nights later disaster strikes. Bianca's parents are divorcing. She saw it coming, but her father, a recovering alcoholic, didn't. She's sat at the bar of the club all the high schoolers hang out at, where she first spoke with Wesley and he called her the Duff a few nights before, and when he sits to talk with her again, she does the unthinkable. She kisses him, and likes it. It's the escape she was looking for. Despite her loathing for him, she continues to find ways of getting in to his bed, hiding it from her friends and everyone else. Seemed like a simple escape for her, until she realises she's falling for him.

I really struggled to put this book down. Bianca is loud, not out loud, not to her friends, but her voice, the tone of the book, it's loud, brash and I couldn't turn away from it. She's insecure, already feeling inadequate next to her two best friends, but when Wesley actually says it, the way he does, she starts to reevaluate things in a very serious manner, wondering if maybe that's why her friends like her, because she's not as pretty as they are. Her life starts spinning out of control after that. She uses sex with Wesley to try and feel in control, but the more she does, the dirtier she feels, the more she loses control. Vicious circle. And some uncomfortable reading at times, relating (as I suspect everyone can) to Bianca's issues. And her biting sarcasm just makes things more fun and interesting.

Wesley. Typical asshole, the kind of guy you assume you know really well from a glance, but really don't. I wanted to slap him so hard so many times through this book! And yet, I ended up falling for him just like Bianca. Didn't like him a whole lot most of the time, but I did care as I got to know him better.

I loved how the relationship between them developed. I felt so bad for Bianca through so many things and could see just why she reacted the way she did to things. I was really proud of her at times as well, when she was standing up for herself. I think it's so easy to get in to this because everyone feels like the Duff some times. It's not always strictly fitting 'ugly, fat' part of the duff, but feeling that way, that next to the ones around you, you're not worth notice.

And that's where this book hit awesome for me. It's so believable, so realistic. The mess Bianca gets in to, how she tries to control things, how she ends up falling for a guy she hates and how Wesley learns a whole lot about himself as well. We only get to see things from Bianca's point of view, but it's not hard to see. The witty dialogue and the interplay between Bianca and Wesley, or Bianca and her friend even, doesn't hurt. There is a fair bit of bad language and a lot of sex in the book as well, which fits the realness factor, but it's something to be aware of if you're not such a fan, or for younger readers. Personally, I really loved this book. Not the most comfortable read at times, but it's completely compelling and very, very well done. The ending felt very fitting to me, and I was really pleased with how things worked out in the end. 9/10


Alison said...

Great review! I didn't think I was going to go for this book based on the summary. But I've heard so many positive reviews that I want to pick it up now.

AtenRa said...

Thanx for the review,Cem!I am participating on a tour for this, so I can't wait to read it :)