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. 


Saturday, May 7, 2016

Review: To All The Boys I've Loved Before

To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #1)To All The Boys I've Loved Before
Jenny Han

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister's ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

This never happens to me - usually when I love a book I love it straight off the bat. I also usually never hate a popular, bestselling book - not always in love with it, but usually never hate it. I consider my tastes fairly normal. 

This book tho. 

I couldn't stand it for the first 50 pages or so, and seriously considered putting it down. (THIS NEVER HAPPENS)  Because I'm crazy about not DNFing, I continued. Boy am I happy.

From the second Lara Jean jumps on Kavinsky and I looked up from the book in bewilderment like did she just do that things took a turn for the awesomeness. I loved how funny things were, I love how I grew to care. I hurt for Josh, I hurt for the sisters. I liked how normal and boring our protagonist was, but how her story and life was beautiful and meaning to me nonetheless. I liked how she was Asian, and it was addressed - ahhahh I had never thought about the costumes thing. 

The romance was beautiful. It was slow, it was funny, it was natural. He grew on me, Peter. Totally had me in love with him by the end. My only real point of criticism throughout the novel was that Lara didn't dwell pretty much at all on who sent her letters. I felt that anyone else wouldn't rest until they found out who had done it. 

As for the person who had done it... without spoilers, I felt that that was a drastic move, and frankly an unforgiveable one. Not to mention the cause of Lara and Margo's fallout... the Song girls' ability to forgive each other was truly astonishing. 

THE ENDING. Like with Jenny Han's other books,  I had a bad feeling about where the sequel was going to go so I spoiled it in order to decide whether or not to read it. Fortunately, it seems things will end up where I believe they should be and have decided to continue(:

Soooo recommended.