Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: September 7th, 2010
Description (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 “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 by Kody Keplinger is one of those rare novels that everyone can relate to. We all feel out of place and outmatched sometimes, it’s what makes us human. With her debut novel, Keplinger creates a heroine that is tough but venerable; innocent but wise beyond her years.
I am not sure how many people are familiar with the term DUFF – I, like Bianca learned of it during high school. I remember hearing a boy I liked in one of my classes joke about an underclassman, calling her the dreaded name. At first I was clueless as to what it meant, so I did what any teenage girl would do – I continued eavesdropping. Soon enough the term was defined; and needless to say, my crush on the said boy deceased immediately.
Although I was not the one saddled with the term, I began to analyze my own group of friends. I came to the conclusion that I was in fact the DUFF. Like Bianca, I did not find myself repulsive, but I could not compare to my gorgeous pint sized pals. It’s a terrible feeling to have – to have a whole can of insecurities opened up inside your head.
I think this is why I enjoyed Keplinger’s novel so much. I felt a certain kinship with Bianca and although her character irritated me at times, I felt I understood her. Like every teenager on the planet she was extremely confused by life, but she tried to remain true to herself. She was extremely snarky and brutally honest at times, which provided an honest and entertaining portrayal. I particularly enjoyed her take on teenage love – I was the same way in high school. She did not think you could love someone at sixteen, she felt that it took years to properly learn to love someone.
I also adored Bianca’s love interest. At first he comes off as a complete pig, but as the book progresses he does an absolute 180. I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say this; there were times when I wanted to crawl inside the book and give that poor boy a hug. He certainly had reasons to be screwed up.
The DUFF was a charming story that was both believable and intriguing. What makes this a stand out for me was that Keplinger didn’t romanticize anything; she didn’t create a farfetched whirlwind romance, she wrote a believable story about a teenage girl. Yes, there are romantic elements, but they aren’t of the “undying love” persuasion.
I thoroughly enjoyed The DUFF and am looking forward to reading more of Keplinger’s work. It’s hard to believe that this was a debut novel – it is clearly evident that she is going to be one to watch!