Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Published by Hachette on September 7th 2010
Also by this author: A Midsummer's Nightmare, Lying Out Loud, Secrets and Lies, Run
Format: Paperback (288 pages) • Source: Gift
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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.
OH MAN. This makes the second book by Kody Keplinger that I read in basically one sitting over the course of one day. I kept trying to put it down and go to sleep but I just couldn’t. Her stories just grab me in a way that makes me want to keep reading and reading until I reach the end. It’s basically a contemporary romance with the addiction level of a mystery/thriller.
I had this book on my radar for a while, even before I heard there was going to be a movie. My dad got it for me for Christmas and I’ve been anxious to get started ever since. The Read The Duff Read-a-long motivated me to get my butt in gear after finishing up a few review books. BUT I DIGRESS.
I seriously loved this book. I’m not surprised. It has everything I generally enjoy reading in a YA romance book: the banter, love-hate relationship, realistic main character, perfect writing and pacing, great friendships, family relationship building… the list goes on. I’ve found both books I’ve read by Keplinger to include all of these elements, which is why she is my queen. She just has an addicting writing style and compulsively readable storylines.
Bianca is given the name “Duff” by the school’s playboy, Wesley. When he comes up to her and calls her that, she throws her Coke in his face. He wants to use her to get close to her friends. The nickname sticks with her for a long time but she refuses to tell anyone about how much it upsets her. Then, shit starts to hit the fan with her home life. She wants a distraction and somehow ends up kissing Wesley. This turns into a full-blown friends-with-benefits relationship, where they sneak around and hook up whenever she needs to be distracted from the shitstorm that is her life. That pretty much ends up being ever day. Honestly, I was not sold on Wesley for a little while. How could she just let him get away with calling her that, especially as it continued throughout their little tryst? One of the first things I wrote about this book is that he would have to change quite a lot for me to root for him. I mean, come on, what an ass.
Turns out, ~feelings~ started to be developed between the two of them and Bianca tries to deal with her life in a pretty predictable-YA fashion. Except, of course, if Keplinger is writing it, it doesn’t feel like that. I love reading about flawed characters who try to figure themselves and their lives out throughout the book. Bianca felt so REAL to me. She was the Duff after all – a name that all girl feel at some point or another. She was cynical, honest, and self-aware. She tried so hard to control all the pieces of her life as they came crumbling around her… which, again, is something everyone can relate to.
Beyond the glorious sexual tension between Bianca and Wesley, the other relationships in the book were on point. She was struggling to get along with both of her parents as they go through a rough patch, and there are some major father-daughter feels. I love that Keplinger’s characters aren’t afraid to stand up to their parents when they get pissed. They don’t shrink down and take whatever comes to them. They (eventually) explode and tell it like it is.
Her friendship with Casey and Jessica was altered once she started her “relationship” with Wesley too. She found herself keeping secrets and hiding what she was really doing. There was a lot of backstory and complexities about her friendships, too. The story was just so freakin mult-faceted, I don’t know how she was able to develop every single part of this story so well. AND KEPLINGER WROTE IT WHEN SHE WAS LIKE SEVENTEEN. C’mon. How.
Honestly I’m surprised I was able to word vomit this much out. This book is a five star read for me, even though I wish there was a litttttle bit more. Primarily, I wish there was a bit more explanation from Wesley’s perspective on the whole Duff-naming issue. Regardless. Perfection.
Love-hate relationship + sexual tension + banter + father-daughter feels + strong friendships + superior writing + sex positivity + relatable main character = formula for Keplinger’s success