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 "Duffy," she throws her Coke in his face.
But things aren't so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley.
Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that 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.
Details: The Duff by Kody Keplinger, 288 pages, 4.04 stars on Goodreads
Why I Picked This Up: I knew I wanted this the first time I laid eyes on the cover. I knew I wanted it even more when I read the synopsis. And I knew I absolutely, one-hundred-percent had to have it when I saw it wasn't going to come out for, like, a million years. It didn't help that I've probably read at least six thousand reviews of this book since then, each and every one glowing. But finally - finally! - I got my hands on this one.
Characters: Bianca is absolutely amazing. She's sarcastic, cynical, drenched with wit, and one hundred percent honest. She seems like, by all rights, she should be a jerk, but she's not because she's also loyal and cares about her friends. And while she is definitely strong, she's also insecure, just like pretty much every teen girl out there. She's always felt less pretty, less skinny than her gorgeous friends, but it didn't really hit her until she was labeled the Duff - the designated ugly fat friend.
Oh yeah, and her voice? Completely fantastic. Bianca doesn't just have a voice, the pages leak voice. Every word is sopped with it, each one unmistakably hers. She's smart and even funny at times, while still maintaining the seriousness of the story.
Of course, no analysis of characters is complete without talking about Wesley. He's that guy who's the big bad wolf in so many YA stories - the guy who can't keep his hands off every mildly attractive girl who walks past him. He's disgusting and repulsive and so, so hot. The calculating jerkwad only decided to talk to Bianca because he wanted a shot at her friends, and he told her so, too.
And yet, there's more to him than that. He has depth to him, and he matured. Don't get me wrong, by the end of the book, he hadn't exactly transformed into Prince Charming of Celibacy, but he was a little different. More grown up. He knew what he was doing had real consequences, and it made him the teensiest bit more likeable.
Plot: Obviously awesome. Bianca's life is dissolving and there's nothing she can do except try to hold it together, to keep everything from crumbling in her hands. And while all that's going on, she has to deal with that awful Wesley Rush. Yet even though I kept thinking there was no way she should get it together with Wesley, that what she was doing with him was wrong (how could you do it with someone who calls you fat and ugly?), I couldn't help hoping they would end up together.
This is an edgy book. It has sex scenes that the author was clearly not afraid to write, and so it's more for a mature teen audience - not something you'd want to hand to a tween.
Cover: Love it! Those yellow letters don't seem like they would work and yet they do, because they're so bright they pop, but in a good way. I like the smaller print of "Designated Ugly Fat Friend", and especially the model they chose. The girl on the cover seems normal, not a supermodel like so many other books.
First Line: [Unavailable.]
Overall: This is one of the best reads I've gone through this year. The romance is amazing and unique and edgy, the characters are real and honest and funny, and even the whole concept is exciting. Every bad review I've read of this was basically because it was too edgy for that reviewer's tastes, so if you think the sex scenes aren't for you (they're really not graphic, but there are a lot of them), you probably should avoid this one.
Plot - 5/5
Characters - 5/5
Writing - 5/5
Impact - 4/5
Inability to put it down - 4/5
Total - 92% = A