Sunday 19 April 2015

The Duff by Kody Keplinger - Review Revisited.

To coincide with the release of the film, I  thought it would be nice to repost my review of The Duff from way back in April 2012 when I read is as part of a special week on the blog dealing with how we look. The publishers have asked me to pass on the following message about the book. 

Labelling is a huge issue in our society today, The Duff are partnering up with Ditch the Label which is a charity who are trying to overcome this, if anyone of you are suffering with any bullying make sure you check for advice and someone to talk to.
Pages - 341
Originally published by Hodder Children's Books in April 2012 - Republished February 2015

Wesley sighed. 'Fine. You're being really uncooperative, you know. So I guess I'll be honest with you. I've got to hand it to you: you're smarter and more stubborn than most girls I talk to. But I'm here for a little more than witty conversation. ' He moved his attention to the dance floor. 'I actually need your help. You see, your friends are hot. And you, darling,are the Duff.'
'Is that even a word?'
'Designated. Ugly. Fat. Friend,' he clarified. 

Goodreads Summary
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.
Duff is definitely one of those books I could imagine John Hughes directing back in the 80's; it just had that feel to it. Realistic, yet innocent at the same time.

Bianca is a really strong female character; she is a feminist at heart yet annoys herself when she succumbs to her own needs. She is frightened to give her opinions and I am sure that is one of the main reasons Wesley likes her so much. She doesn't kiss his butt, like all the other girls do.  Wesley is the male character everyone would find it hard to resist. He doesn't promise anything other than some hot loving!

There is a quite  a lot of sex and swearing in this book, which surprised me for a YA book, so please do be careful before offering it to younger readers. The sex scenes in the book made the story realistic, although not graphic, they showed the progression of the relationship between Bianca and Wesley.

This book shows how opposites attract. You would never have linked Bianca and Wesley together before reading the book. The relationship begins as  purely a sexual one and grows from there. This book really made me consider how relationships work. A lot of what attracts us to others often has very little to do with how we look. Initial attractions  may be by what we see, but for a loving relationship to sustain, you have to look under the surface. Bianca and Wesley found what they didn't realise they were both looking for.

Within  the story, you witness both Bianca and Wesley trying to run away from their problems. They feel too young and under qualified to deal with the crap that exists in their lives. In the beginning, they help each other to forget all the issues surrounding them. When the problem in their lives becomes their own relationship, they both have to learn how to deal with it and move on; ultimately helping them to come to terms with the other issues in their lives.

The nickname DUFF (designated ugly fat friend) is truly awful, but I could see how society would adopt it. Everyone is a DUFF, in some circumstance or another. How often have we all been out with friends who we consider prettier than ourselves? But just remember when we think that, often these beautiful friends feel exactly the same way. We all see our own imperfections.  Names roll off everyone's tongues with such ease, that never a thought is given to how it might hurt someone. But they do hurt. They make people believe that what is being said is true.

Kody was seventeen when she wrote this book and is it obvious that she really understood the teenagers she mixed with. I do think this book gives a realistic view of teenage life today. I will definitely be keeping an eye open for Kody's next book. 

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