Saturday, December 18, 2010

The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

Book Jacket

"You, darling, are the Duff.  Designated.  Ugly.  Fat.  Friend," Wesley clarified.  "No offense, it's not like you're an ogre or anything, but in comparison..."  He shrugged his broad shoulders.  "You have hot friends...really hot friends."  He paused, watching the action on the dance floor for a moment, before facing me again.  "The point is, scientists have proven that every group of friends has a weak link, a Duff."


I have about equal feelings of admiration and reservation for Keplinger's debut novel.  As such, I'll just divide this review into categories.

The good:  I loved the idea of the Duff--the friend who is less attractive, who makes her other friends feel better about themselves in comparison.  I think everyone can relate to that feeling, or at least all girls.  The revelation Bianca has toward the end--that her gorgeous friends each feel like the Duff themselves--serves to undermine the whole idea of the Duff, proving that labels are just harmful self-esteem destroyers.

The bad:  I just think this book glorifies an unhealthy sexual relationship.  How often does an abusive sexual relationship between a womanizing playboy and a cynical girl turn into true love?  Um, probably not very often, and I have a problem with books that preach such a dangerous message. 

The in between:  Bianca herself is a polarizing protagonist.  She is extremely cynical and sarcastic.  Now, I am a fan of wit and sarcasm, but she could just be overwhelmingly pessimistic.  At times, I honestly wondered how she had friends, let alone two boys fighting for her.  On the other hand, it was nice to see an honest character, struggling against the fairy tale idealization of love while experiencing all those hormones that feel like love.  She definitely feels like a real person, but whether I would want to hang out with her in real life is a whole other matter.

This book is for mature teens, due to sexual content and language.  If you can handle that, it is a very interesting and honest look at the insecurities nearly everyone struggles with.

Three out of five insecurities.

Release Date:  September 2010
Reading Level:  Grade 10+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection:  Not owned by Dunlap.

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