Title: The Duff
Author: Kody Keplinger
Published: September 7, 2010
Good to know: Explicit language, sexual situations.
Amazon Summary: 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 "Duffy," she throws her Coke in his face.
But things aren't so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley.
Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that 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.
I was on the fence about picking this one up. I heard some great things about 'The Duff' a while back but back then it wasn't available for me to purchase and now that I found it was, I read some less excited reviews about it.
I didn't want to read a story solely about physical activity (see what I did there? But no, there won't be anything graphic) which was what some reviews were stating, although judging from the synopsis I knew I wanted to read the book. I find that hate-love kind of relationship between heroes and heroines to be really entertaining and you just know there'll be a bunch of witty dialogues and hidden tension.
'The Duff' was interesting.
What stood out the most was, without a doubt, Bianca - our protagonist. I've always been drawn to characters, or people in general, with an outspoken and forward (if not, impudent) attitude and Bianca was just that. There is explicit language on, I want to say, every page so if you're easily offended by curse words, you're warned.
What I liked about Bianca was that she was to portray the underdog among her group of friends. She's the Designated Ugly Fat Friend also known as "The Duff", but she isn't weak or pushed down. Keplinger explained that she, very intentionally, meant for Bianca to - despite being the weak link - not actually being the stereotypical "loser." Bianca was very much intended to be a force of her own and I really enjoyed her strength in that department.
What I liked less about her was that she'd regularly overstep that outspokenness and just be plain rude. She really needed to chill down sometimes and not be in stance for attack all the time. I ultimately felt this girl needed to learn about boundaries, where uncontrollably spitting out unnecessary comments oversteps honesty.
Wesley is the ultimate player and how utterly confident he is about it just makes him get under your skin more. I got why Bianca was so bothered by the guy and even why she hated his guts, but not entirely why she was so purely loathsome of him.
We know those kind of jerks - they're idiots, they're annoying beyond belief - but what caused Wesley to trigger such heated hate with Bianca?
And how on earth she was capable of breaking out of such despise for him and kiss him and start this "enemies-with-benefits" deal, I'll never know. It didn't quite add up, is all. Though that's what the book centers around; how Bianca seeks an escape from the issues in her life and finds that outlet with Wesley.
There wasn't enough character development with Bianca and Wesley - alone or together - to have me wholeheartedly root for them. I felt that there should've been a clearer growth in Bianca's character by the end - I'd loved to have seen her be a softer, more tender version of herself. I needed to fall in love with these characters a bit more.
With more depth in story and characters I could've really, really enjoyed 'The Duff.'