Katya's Reviews > The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend

The DUFF by Kody Keplinger
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's review
Mar 09, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: 2011, the-ya-project

Enemies with benefits? Why dost this sound so familiar?

By some weird coincidence, I read this book right before Phoebe interviewed Kody Kaplinger for her blog It's a fabulous interview, and it made me see a lot of the things in this novel a lot clearly.

Bianca is the DUFF. That's the designated ugly fat friend to those of you who aren't spoiled rich boys with nothing better to do than come up with insulting nicknames for women. She's introduced to the term by the biggest womanizer in school when he, stupidly, explains to her that by socializing with the DUFF (herself), he increases his chances of getting into her friends' panties. She responds to that by throwing her Cherry Coke in his face.

The thing that sets "The DUFF" apart from most contemporary YA is that there is sex. Lots of it, and not always of the chaste black-out moment variety. Bianca quite honestly uses Wesley to escape the difficult stuff in her life, something which he is not averse to, as it turns out, because he too has things he'd rather not think of. The way Keplinger portrays sex in this book is very different from what some authors show in YA, but not necessarily the bad kind. Unlike Meyer, she doesn't have her characters ashamed of their desires, and, as the story progresses, the sex becomes less the sourse of escape and more a show of love and affection. And while it wasn't quite like my high school experience, I related to the events in the book, and understood why Bianca did the things she did. It fit her character, and the situation she was in.

So this was a great book... for the first two thirds of it. The last third just felt rather bizzare. Ok, so Bianca's father gets over himself because of Wesley giving him an... ahem... wake-up call (and I won't lie when I say I got a kick out of that scene, the sadist that I am), but that subplot just felt under-developed for me. Bianca's struggles with it were purely internal, and the solution to it was just too quick. Her father just didn't seem like a well-developed character.

The other problem is that the subplot about Jake just didn't make much sense. Bianca never confronts him, which would have been a good resolution for her. Instead, she gets her resolution through Jessica, who acts like a messanger for her brother's apology, which makes the plot pretty redundant. Bianca could get over that part of her past with or without that apology, so why throw it in there if she can't even confront the bastard?

Finally, the whole thing with her running away from Wesley after her epiphany felt a little redundant. Yes, yes, I know, she's afraid of having her heart broken. But the thing is that at that point, she is fully aware that she needs to stop running from the problems in her life and start solving them. She knows that she has to stop using Wesley to run away, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they can't stop seeing each other. Moreover, he's the one who helped her get to this conclusion - does she really not realize that he likes her?

Then again, that could be chalked up on Bianca's inexperience in that field, so yeah, that's not such a huge problem for me. Still, why do they have to keep dragging Wuthering Heights in whenever they want a love story? I could barely stand Catherine and Heathcliff, or any of the other characters for that matter. Why do they keep paining this as a love story when it's clearly a tragedy about some brat, taken in by good people, who repays them by ruining their family? I just don't get it!

That aside, "The Duff" is a pretty adult-novel plot material redeveloped in a book for teenagers. Is that a bad thing? Not really - it's realistic, and it's one of the few novels I've read which treats teens like adults, and not like children. It's a good, fun read.
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Reading Progress

March 9, 2011 – Shelved
April 22, 2011 – Started Reading
April 23, 2011 – Shelved as: 2011
April 23, 2011 – Finished Reading
March 2, 2013 – Shelved as: the-ya-project

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Cory I agree with your review, but I like Heathcliff and Wuthering Heights in general, although yeah, it's not a love triangle.

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