Debbie's World of Books
My book reviews, book news & random rants

The Duff by Kody Keplinger

January 17th, 2011 by Debbie's World of Books

Source: Borrowed from a friend

Publication date: September 7, 2010

Publisher: Little Brown

I give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars

Description from 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.

This book definitely doesn’t pull any punches and was a bit shocking to me for a YA book but I loved it.  I don’t agree with all the behaviors in the book but the story sucked me in and I did not want to put it down (although I must say parts of it had me blushing reading it in the middle of the train on my commute to & from work).  Bianca’s character is so cynical and judgmental that she is almost hard to like but she comes across as very real.  The problems she faces are ones that teens everywhere face.  This book deals with issues about self confidence, sex, drinking, divorce, etc. You name it and it probably is at least mentioned in passing in this story.   Unfortunately Bianca does not deal with the stresses she is facing in life well but to be honest a lot of people don’t and we all have our vices.  For her she turns to sex with Wesley to get her “high” to carry herself through the hard times she is going through.  It’s definitely not a healthy way to deal but I loved seeing the progression of the relationship between Bianca and Wesley.

Wesley was probably my favorite character in the book.  Despite being labeled a “man whore” by Bianca he is refreshingly honest even to the point of being cruel when he tells Bianca that she is the duff in her group.   As we see more and more of Wesley we realize that he isn’t the superficial, skirt chasing jerk that he first appears to be.  He is having his own problems and is using the constant flings as his own way to deal with those issues. Underneath it all he actually has a heart of gold and really I am a sucker for those types of guys.

While I may not agree with how the characters in this book seem to try and avoid their problems with the constant sex I do like the message that at some point in time everyone feels like the “duff”.  Just because you may feel like that it doesn’t define who you are and that others probably are not viewing you as harshly as you view yourself.  And those that do judge you are probably trying to hide their own insecurities.  This is definitely not a book for the prudish reader but I loved it.

Posted in 4 Star Books, Books, Young Adult

9 Responses

  1. Miss Remmers

    I agree with you .. the constant sex brought it down a bit, but I loved this book – even for its raciness :) Great review!

  2. Helen Murdoch

    I’ve heard such good things about this book. I bought it for my school library but haven’t gotten around to reading it yet

  3. Sheila (Bookjourney)

    I struggled with this book for the reasons you mentioned above. I didnt like that it seemed Bianca got her self worth from the gut who gave her the nickname and through sex.

    That said, I did devour the book in one night – take the sex out and I enjoyed the read.

  4. Lisa

    Great review. I think the most realistic books are sometimes the hardest to read.

  5. Pam

    Are we a bunch of prudes that we can’t handle reading about a little sex? It wasn’t very descriptive sex either. I didn’t like the reasons she had sex but I didn’t mind the sex itself.

  6. dsuzuki

    I don’t have a problem reading about sex but I didn’t care for the reason she was having all the sex. I know that was a central part of the story but it still doesn’t mean I like how she handled things. Sadly I can see that sort of behavior happening often.

  7. Michelle

    I’m on the fence on this one. So many people I trust either loved it or hated it so without much in the way of middle ground I feel more hesitant to pick it up.

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