The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger (2010)
YA Fiction | Contemporary
“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.”
pooled ink Review:
Ummmm…okay well to start I’ll confess that I saw the movie before I even knew there was a book. So there’s that. And sure there’s always the chance that maybe if I’d read the book first I would’ve like it more but honestly I don’t think so because the movie and the book are truly so different that I stopped even trying to compare the two past the first 50 pages.
What do the book and the movie have in common? Well, some of the character names, the fact that it takes place in high school, and the term “DUFF”. The differences? Well the movie is a fun, witty, albeit somewhat cliché, teenage RomCom and the book is…well it’s much more dramatic and far less fun. I loved the cynical, sarcastic, funny Bianca in the movie, but the Bianca in the book is a girl with issues and then more issues get tossed onto her leaving her with unhealthy outlets for her stress and fear and churning, self-tormenting thoughts. Not to be mean but it became sort of a drag. lol.
The plots between the two stories are so different you can’t really compare them at all. Really all I can say is that the movie made me laugh even when it was dumb or cliché, made me watch it a few times over with friends, and the book…I read it in just a few hours, it’s true, but I never laughed and there were a few moments when I cringed so hard it was painful and I was wishing I could just abandon it and turn on the movie instead, but I was determined to see the book through and try to give it a chance (especially since it’s the original source material for the movie).
I don’t even know how to review this because I just didn’t particularly enjoy it. There were a lot of deeper issues brought up in the plot, most of which didn’t feel satisfyingly resolved but rather were just tossed in as a quick way to “deepen” a character’s backstory. There was so much going on in Bianca’s life out of her control (her family life, old romantic wounds, etc.) that I wanted to sympathize, and I did, but for some reason, although I was immediately grinning and wanting to slide onto a barstool and befriend Bianca in that opening chapter, it wasn’t long before I felt myself hovering in the distance with little interest to do much more than skip to the final few pages and read the presumably happy ending.
Look, the movie has it’s own issues. I mean it is rather cliché and surface level (there’s only so much one can do in under 2 hours, plus it was made for profit not enlightenment), but it was fun and witty and quirky and surprising. The bottom line for me is that I enjoyed it. The only problem with my having watched the movie prior to reading the book is that I went into the book expecting a humorous romantic comedy rather than a moody teenage drama. Ah well. If you’ve yet to either read or watch The DUFF then now you know. If you’re into Contemporary YA teen dramas then you’ll probably really enjoy this book and if you’re more into funny entertaining teenage escapades then I’d recommend the movie (I’ve put the trailer below). Both have their strengths and pitfalls though so it really is more of just a matter of what’s your preference.
The DUFF has its merits but overall it wasn’t quite my cup of tea. Even so, it can’t be denied that it tackles teen issues in a gritty, realistic light and at an angle that few authors have dared venture before. Friendship, family, addiction, love…themes deep and light are woven into this complex tale of learning one’s place in the world and that perhaps it isn’t quite so different from everyone’s else’s.
Purchase Here: The DUFF
Meet Kody Keplinger!
I’m a 19-year-old college student and young adult author. My first book, THE DUFF, debuted on September 7, 2010. I write books for teenagers and strive to be honest and true-to-life.
Movie Trailer (2015)