The Duff, by Kody Keplinger
Format: Audiobook from Audible
Run Time: 7 hours 34 minutes
Published by: Brilliance Audio
Audible Release Date: 07/09/2010
Narrated by: Ellen GraftonSynopsis
Taken from Goodreads
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 “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face.
But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She 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.
The Designated Ugly Fat Friend. Hands up if you've ever felt like that might be you? I certainly need to raise my own hand in response and I bet a whole bunch of readers just did the same. I can't say how it is for guys, but I think a lot of us ladies often feel like the Duff of the group. Every single one of us will, at some point, have looked at our friends and been absolutely positive that they only invite us along out of some kind of pity. We might look at our pals and feel ugly or fat or frumpy in comparison to their svelte beauty.
I truly liked The Duff. I enjoyed how the characters were flawed. I liked how the subject matter was not dumbed down for the YA audience. I think that most of all, I loved how Keplinger breathed some new life into the now horribly clichéd idea of the love triangle. Bianca was a pain in the ass at times and the narrator's voice exacerbated this as far as I was concerned. Wesley was a womanising git who will remind you of "those" boys in school. You know who I mean? The boys who wore to much boy-scented aftershave, walked with a swagger and never had anything nice to say to any girl who hadn't been on birth control since they were still in footsy-pyjamas!? Then there was Toby. He was so nice that it was almost annoying. I knew that I should want Toby to swoop in and save the day with all of his gentle, unsure geekiness, but I didn't! Wesley and Bianca's banter was hilarious. They both used each other but in doing so, they found equals. They challenged and changed each other.
I liked the friendship between Bianca and her best pals. This friendship was also flawed but sweet. I don't think it was as real as it was, perhaps, a little bit too forgiving and not snarky enough...but then that probably means I just have a lot of snarky pals! Whereas I liked the friends, Bianca's family irritated the crap out of me. Her mother escaped through work; her father escaped through booze... is it any wonder that Bianca searches for her own ways to escape?
With all of the irritations and imperfections, I still loved this book. The language is coarse but the sexual subject matter is not glamorised. Bianca feels dirty and ashamed of herself after her nights with Wesley, but still, this is a book which I doubt many parents would be comfortable with younger teens reading.