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The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

The DUFF was one of the buzzingest books around when I was at BEA last year. I sat and listened to Kody Keplinger on a panel of YA authors and was impressed, yet somehow I didn't manage to pick up a copy while I was there. I kicked myself at first and then sort of forgot about it, subconsciously relegating the book to the realms of every other contemporary YA I may never get around to reading. Add that to the fact that the cover wasn't doing much for me and that was that. Until a couple of weeks ago when Janice reviewed Keplinger's upcoming second novel Shut Out, and I thought--wait, didn't Janice say The DUFF was one of her very favorite reads from last year? She did! So what am I waiting for then? And off to my local Borders I went, quickly before it closes its doors for good. *sob* And boy am I glad I did. Because this one was worth the wait and is going on the best of list for sure, you guys.

Bianca Piper is stuck again. Disinclined to shake her groove thing out on the dance floor with her two best friends, Casey and Jessica, she finds herself holding down a bar stool at their favorite hangout on a near nightly basis. And while her outgoing and popular friends dance the night away, Bianca chats up the 40-something bartender and slurps down another in a long series of cherry cokes. Then Wesley Rush approaches and, amid an oozing amount of charm and predatory good looks, informs Bianca that she is, in fact, the DUFF. The Designated Ugly Fat Friend. She's the female equivalent of the wingman. There to provide a venue in which interested males can prove their good hearts to her better-looking and eligible friends. The insult is monumental and Bianca's response is appropriately vitriolic. But little does she know she hasn't seen the last of young master Rush. Because things at home are beginning to fall apart for Bianca. And when she finds herself desperately searching for distraction, Wesley's taunting face is suddenly right there in front of her. But while he may be game for being used, and he is indeed shaping up to be the perfect distraction from her disintegrating home life, their mutual loathing is bound to get in the way of anything . . . real.

I get the sense people go violently one way or the other with this book (see linked reviews below). Some of my very favorite reviewers are divided over it. Which is always intriguing and pretty much guaranteed I couldn't pass it up. Bianca isn't for the faint of heart. She's smart, mouthy, and almost paralyzingly angry. All reasons why you will either love her or hate her. I loved her with a capital L. But I can see why she could rub you wrong in such a way that it ended up a deal breaker. I loved her because she was smart. And while she leaped headfirst into some pretty monumental mistakes, she was completely aware she was doing it the entire time. That meant I had to stick it out to see why! And to find out if she ever got her head above water. Then there was Wesley. And the thing is, he was smart, too. And a self-admitted "man-whore," as Bianca repeatedly reminded herself and us and anyone around who would listen. Which made him . . . different. And compelling to me. And these two people--one prickly as hell, one the ultimate schmoozer--end up drawn to each other. And, yes, there is a large quantity of invective. And, yes, there are serious amounts of questionable motives. And, yes, there are moments when you're not sure you like either of them. But there are more moments when your heart breaks for them. When you love them. When their need calls out to you. At least it did to me. I couldn't put it down. There were true friends, a few perfect lines, and I freaking loved the ending. I cannot wait to get my hands on Shut Out. Well played, Kody Keplinger. I will definitely be back for more.


Linkage
Book Lungs Review
Chasing Words Review
The Crooked Shelf Review
Good Books & Good Wine Review
The Hiding Spot Review
Janicu's Book Blog Review
Letters Inside Out Review
Persnickety Snark Review
Steph Su Reads Review

Comments

  1. I just happened to switch tabs on my browser and I saw your update magically appear and it was for THE DUFF. Yup, one of my favorites. Every so often a foul-mouthed anti-hero steals my heart, and she is one of them. There's also probably controversy in Bianca's not-so-great methods of escaping her problems, but I liked where the story went with that. It ended very well.

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  2. How did I miss that in Janice's review? I too was turned off by the cover and also the title but now with your review I'm sold.

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  3. It's so funny--I'm ten or so pages away from the end of this, having (finally) gotten around to reading it, a year or so after I got it! I am torn about certain aspects, and I'll have to come back and re-read your review after I finish.

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  4. Anonymous9:34 AM

    I LOVED The Duff! But I must admit I wasn't crazy about Shut Out. Maybe my expectations were too high.

    KarenS

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  5. I'm so thrilled you loved The DUFF! It was definitely one of my favorite reads of 2010.

    Fair warning though - I went into Shut Out with high expectations and was pretty disappointed. It is a cute story, but not as good as this one.

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  6. @KarenS - I had a similar reaction to SHUT OUT. Didn't bowl me over in the same way THE DUFF did. I wasn't sure if it was me either!

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  7. Janice, lol. Happy timing. And thank you for reminding me about this one and recommending it so highly. I loved it. Really and truly.

    Holly, enjoy! :)

    Hallie, I understand being torn. And I'm eager to hear what you thought in the end. Let me know!

    Karen! I was wondering what you thought of it. I figured you must have read it by now. I'm so glad you loved it, too. I'm a bit wary of SHUT OUT but I'll probably read it anyway to see.

    Allison, hm. Cute, huh? Not exactly a resounding rec. :) Thanks for the warning.

    Janice, I'm getting a sinking feeling...

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  8. Anonymous5:20 PM

    Love the sound of this one. I also like anything that puts reviewers at odds. Even if I don't like it...it's usually worth the ride. Thanks for the Review!

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  9. Anonymous1:51 AM

    I just grabbed this from the library on your recommendation and finished it the same day! Very refreshing and honest look at being a teenager (I'm 20 so I just left that realm not so long ago) and the most accurate one I've read in a book.

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  10. librarian, I know what you mean. I always want to find out what's causing the reactions.

    Emily! Good to see your font. And I'm SO glad you enjoyed it. I felt the same way.

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  11. This is definitely a lot to deal with in the future. I am not sure how to deal with this.

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