Friday, May 13, 2016

Review: The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend

The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat FriendThe Duff 
Kody Keplinger
YA contemporary

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper may not be the prettiest girl in her high school, but she has a loyal group of friends, a biting wit, and a spot-on BS detector. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. But things aren't so great at home and Bianca, desperate for a distraction, 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.

Unfortunately for all of us, I read The DUFF a few weeks ago and only got around to reviewing it now. I loved it, but am more critical after time has passed. Whatever I say, keep in mind that it was awesome. 

The Duff had a really great concept that was executed not as brilliantly as it could have been. For one, the amazing idea that was this book - how we all feel like the duff next to our friends - was spelled out and shoved in our a faces all the time, instead of subtly through the story as I, for one, would have preferred it. 

Another problem was the one-dimensionality of the supporting cast. Bianca's mother, Jessica, Toby... all just served their purpose in the story and showed no hint of complexity at all. Frankly, in the case of Jessica I actually felt that feminism was dealt a blow - a young, clueless, perky girl portrayed as nothing but that. Even the characters of Bianca's father and Casey, who both had potential to be interesting and realistic, well-rounded characters, ultimately were made to be cliches. 

Bianca, at least, I felt was very normal,  realistic and relatable. She was perhaps more aware of herself than a real person usually is, but I think in books that sometimes helps us tolerate our protagonist's flaws. 

Writing-wise, the novel is very, very immature. Phrases were repeated, the language structure used was simple, slangy, childish. (I confirmed my suspicions later... the book's reading level is 3.7 - at the end of third grade in America you should be able to read this. Content-wise of course, this is firmly high-school.) 

HOWEVER, like I said above, I really liked this book. I laughed, I fell for Wesley (even if he is your typical troubled YA popular bad boy), I felt for Bianca. I understood the need to escape from problems, the insecurity that has plagued every teenager from the dawn of time. The unrequited crushes, the parental problems, regrets, girls judging girls, girls trying to stop... it is, for all its faults, a very good coming-of-age story. 


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