11 August, 2010

Advance Review: The DUFF by Kody Keplinger


I received this book through Star Book Tours
Picture courtesy of Good Reads

Advance Review
Bianca Piper is snarky and cynical, and knows just how to navigate her way through high school. Though she would never consider herself beautiful, Bianca is smart. It's better than being the female counterpoint to Wesley Rush. There's no girl he won't date, and no girl that won't date him. Except for the DUFF.

When Bianca finds out that Wesley considers her the DUFF (designated ugly fat friend), she throws soda on him, and shrugs off his statement. But, the name sticks, and suddenly, Wesley and her have to partner for a school project. How do they go from hating each other to kissing? Bianca puts it down to needing a distraction.

Her home life is in the gutter. Her dad drinks. Her mother is never around. An enemies-with-benefits affair seems just the thing to take Bianca's mind off everything that's going wrong in her life.

First, I have to say, I am really glad that I had a chance to read this book, in advance of its September release. There's been buzz surrounding the book itself, but also the author, who is only 18. I'm not the kind of person that thinks a teen can't write a good book (whether it is a commercial success or not). But yeah, experience, and practice, and a mature attitude can contribute to how well-written a novel is.

In the case of THE DUFF, I had to throw all of those preconceptions out of the window. This book is GOOD.

Let me get this out of the way right now: THERE IS SEXUAL CONTENT IN THIS BOOK. Some might say that the content is excessive. I don't. The sex is not included for vicarious thrills. It is key to the plot. I've read YA fantasy and urban fantasy that has much more creative sexual content in it. I can't say that I believe that sexual content doesn't belong in YA, anyway. If the characters are conducting some kind of porno-in-writing, I might object slightly.

I really enjoyed how Kody Keplinger fleshed out the characters of Bianca and Wesley. Each one had a school life that was fairly opposite of their personal life. Bianca didn't try to hide her wit and cleverness. It was like a shield for her, because of the uncertainty that she felt living with an alcoholic father. At the same time, Wesley was outgoing, popular, and always had people wanting to be with him. It's not hard to figure out that his school life directly contrasted with his home life.

Kody Keplinger has penned an extremely well-written novel. Sure, it's about self-image. But, it's also about the need to escape. No one wants to be the DUFF. Or the lonely kid. Or the one caught in the middle. Bianca finds something that will distract her from these feelings. She has sex with the one person that may be making her feel worse about herself. But, if any reader closes this book, and only remembers the sexual content, I'm going to say that they missed out. ON WAY TOO MUCH.

4.5/5 for plot
5/5 for characters
4.5/5 for language

My Rating: 14/15 Must Read
Bonus Cover Points: 4/5 (ARC cover; picture is finished cover)

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