Saturday, 23 May 2015

The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

Title: The DUFF
Author: Kody Keplinger
Published by: Hodder Children's Books
Publication date: 25th February 2015
Pages: 343
Genres: YA Contemporary/Romance
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper may not be the prettiest girl at school, but she has a loyal group of friends, biting wit, and a spot-on BS detector. She's also too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut Wesley. But when he casually refers to Bianca as the Duff of her crew - the designated ugly fat friend - the gloves are off!

But things aren't so great at home and Bianca, desperate for a distraction, ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it, and before she knows it she's in a secret enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.

Until it all goes horribly wrong. 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.

Since it was announced that The DUFF would be adapted for the big screen, this book has been everywhere. It's been majorly hyped, and I've wanted to give it a try for a while, so considering I missed it the first time around, I was hugely excited when I received this for review.

And... by the end of the book, I was considerably less excited. I did like some of it. I'd almost go as far to say that, dialogue-wise, Kody Keplinger is the newer, sassier Stephanie Perkins. The characters are amazing; Bianca Piper is sarcastic, witty, cynical... this girl gets me, she really does. The entire book is hilarious and honest, and a few of my favourite quotes include:

"Spanish, huh?" he said, glancing down at the scattered papers as he grabbed them. "Can you say anything interesting?"
"El tono de tu voz hace que queria estrangularme." I stood up and waited for him to hand over my papers.
"That sounds sexy," he said, getting to his feet and handing me the stack of Spanish work he'd swept together. "What's it mean?"
"The sound of your voice makes me want to strangle myself."
"...we're all fucking Duffs."
"I’m not the Duff," Wesley said confidently.
"That's because you don't have friends."
"Oh. Right."
"Your sense of humor needs some work, then," Wesley suggested. "Most girls find my jokes charming."
"Those girls must have IQs low enough to trip over."

As you can see, the writing was a bit clunky, but as long as the book is actually readable then I'm not usually bothered much by that. For me, the most important things about a book are the characters and the plot. I have to be invested in them - and, with The DUFF, I was. So why didn't I enjoy it as much as I thought I would?

As for Wesley Rush, he was really nasty to Bianca in the beginning, and I didn't like how that was romanticised. Should that mindset be promoted at all, especially in YA? But even that isn't why The DUFF didn't meet my expectations, and Wesley changed for the better in the end. The letter and the scene with Bianca's dad showed that, deep down, he was a good person and that he was usually just putting on a front. I won't say any more about that because, here at The Mile Long Bookshelf, we don't do spoilers. Much.

This is one of the most honest YA books I've ever read, and I'm very much looking forward to the next book. But, at the same time, I'm not sure the excessive hype was warranted. It was good in terms of dialogue - it was witty, funny, and I always love that. Sadly, everything else was a let down. It's not bad but it's nothing special.

Overall, the movie is so much better and that's not something I usually say. Nothing could ever replace such an iconic movie but it's like a new Mean Girls, and if I had to recommend either the book or the movie to you, it would be the movie - every time. Gah, these three-star reviews are annoying, aren't they? To conclude, it's an enjoyable book but not one that you need to rush out and buy immediately. Sad times.


  1. This was one I didn't overly enjoy either, Amber. Even with all the hype it was getting. I feel like it was getting hype because of the slightly more gritty and "real" dialogue, but there was a lot about the characters and the message of the book that I didn't like one bit. In fact, the letter and scene with the dad were two of my favourite scenes that aren't in the movie, and that really irked me! I preferred the movie to the book too, and think the humour came across much better, it didn't annoy me as much, but again there were elements of the movie that were different from the book that I didn't enjoy. I wish the two were meshed more.

    My review:

  2. Loads of people seem to love this book but even still I have seen a good few ambivalent reviews and they all have criticisms that are pretty similar to yours. The message and characters have been critiqued a fair bit which has always put me off reading it. The dialogue does look pretty fun though and I like that you said it's honest, which is something that is very important in literature (and everything else for that matter). I still don't know whether I'll read this seeing as I'm already trying to get into so many different genres (comics, literary fiction and YA) all at once so I really have to pick and choose the books I read. Still, I enjoyed your review and you've definitely given me some food for thought.

  3. While I agree with some of what you said above, i am opposite in views here, I liked the book more that i did the movie .....

    Aparajita @Le' Grande Codex

  4. I didn't love this book, but I might watch the movie!