Publisher: Little Brown/Poppy
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 a 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 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.
Bianca Piper is quite content with her everyday life. Being pretty smart, unafraid to speak her mind, having two best friends that she cares a lot about and having an innocent long-time crush on a boy who doesn't know she exists, that being Toby Tucker, there's no reason to change anything in her life right now. But that's until Wesley comes into the picture. Already feeling overshadowed by her two good-looking best friends, Casey and Jessica, Bianca is disgusted when man-whore (pardon my term but it is true because the terms relates to the character so well) Wesley comes along and calls her 'the Duff' - the designated ugly fat friend. And as much as Bianca wants to hate him and tear him into tiny little pieces - by ignoring and continuing to hate him - she's also drawn to him but for all the wrong reasons. And, as it turns out, Wesley isn't as bad as he seems and not all that he appears to be which complicates Bianca's life much, much more.
When I first read reviews on THE DUFF and read many mixed opinions concerning the novel, I wasn't entirely sure whether to have a crack at it or not. For one, some people had said it wasn't enjoyable as they hoped, and two, some said they couldn't connect to any of the character. But I'm so glad that I changed my mind and bought this novel. While I understand readers concerns, I didn't see anything super wrong with this novel. Personally for me, the major appeal of this novel is that it's written by a very young author, someone close to my age, and that alone held great inspiration to me since I too want to become an author. With that being said, I actually loved this book and I loved Kody Keplinger's writing style - its simplicity and rawness in details. THE DUFF examines insecurities in teenage girls (including the whole deal of body image issues), dealing with boys, and not to mention the heavily explored issue of teen sexuality. Sex is the main element of this book and the way Keplinger writes it . . . she sure doesn't shy away from it. Which I admire also. Reading about Bianca and Wesley's sexscapades - while it being a little unrealistic at times, but I appreicated the way it was written and it was pretty dawn sexy.
Okay let's talk about the characters. Bianca Piper was great character. With her heart being broken in the past, it has turned her into a very smart, cynical and sarcastic young lady. I couldn't exactly say I 'related' to Bianca on a personal level, but I did see why she did what she did. A lot of teenagers in dire family situations want to escape from their lives and nowadays kids do pretty crazy things. Sex . . . drugs . . . you name it. Bianca's life isn't exactly a happy picnic and I totally understand why she thought Wesley Rush was the solution to all her problems. But let's just say, Wesley himself would be the last person I would want to deal with but I loved him anyway.
Wesley Rush get's a lot of love and praise from me. I admit, I wasn't sure what to expect from him nor understand why so many people loved him. Or hated him. When you first met this character, readers will know straight off that Wesley is a complete jerk, because he likes to sleep around no matter the girl he's with and clearly he's not a nice guy at the beginning by the way he treats Bianca and calling her the famous words of 'the Duff'. But once the many layers are removed from Wesley, you finally get to see why he acts the way he does and why Bianca fell in love with him. He's dealing with issues much like her's - trying to find some way of coping with his everyday life. His relationship - if that's what you would call it - with Bianca was very intense and sometimes irritating, but I loved the way this relationship reminded me so much of Gossip Girl's Blair and Chuck relationship. There's outwitting of each other. Steamy kisses and love scenes. And like most YA novels, there's plenty of teen angst to go around. However, despite my love for these two teens, the only flaw I had with this book was how Wesley changed his ways. Some people can change others bad ways, but in Wesley's case I found it a little bit unbelievable and for me it happened rather too quickly. Other than that, Wes and Bianca were fantastic characters to have.
Overall, by the time you finish this novel and learn from the characters common mistakes, readers will come to the realisation that everyone can be a 'Duff'. It could be your gorgeous best friend or just plain old you. And whether you're a Duff or not, it doesn't matter because you should love yourself for who you are no matter the ugly sides of us. We all have them. On a whole, THE DUFF is brilliant debut novel for Kody Keplinger and she's captured the beautiful essence of teenage experiences: peer pressure, problematic families and friendships themselves. If you love something a little gritty for a YA novel, then be sure to pick this book up! It's one of the angsty novels you're ever going to read and one of the best at that!