"I spent my life folded between the pages of books." -Tahereh Mafi

Some of my reviews are normal non-spoilery reviews. But some of reviews contain lots and lots of spoilers to help you (and me!) remember what happened when the next book in the series finally comes out. Both review types are clearly marked.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Duff by Kody Keplinger

This review is spoiler free!!

My rating: 4/5 stars

I'm planning on seeing the movie tonight (the theater near me does $5 ticket Tuesdays!! How can I resist that?), so obviously I had to read the book first. The trailer looks good but totally and completely different from the book. So please don't judge this book on its movie!!

I was expecting another shallow, vapid YA contemporary. Which, admittedly, I do like. But this was so much better than my expectations!

The plot is a bit predictable and not totally original, but it was still awesome. It felt very real. It's about a lot more than just her low self-esteem and romance. There's a lot of family drama that she has to deal with. Or more accurately, she avoids dealing with it. Which obviously doesn't work very well, but come on - she's a teenager! She shouldn't have to deal with an absent mom and an alcoholic father!

The romance aspects were totally predictable. But it was still cute. Even though Wesley is kind of a jerk, I still found myself rooting for him. And the strong anti-slut shaming message had me cheering.

Calling Vikki a slut or a whore was just like calling someone the Duff. It was insulting and hurtful and it was one of those titles that just fed off of an inner fear every girl must have from time to time. Slut, bitch, prude, tease, ditz. They were all the same. Every girl felt like one of these sexist labels described her at some point. So, maybe, every girl felt the Duff, too?

And it's always nice to see genuine female friendship in YA books. Mostly because it's so rare. :/ I was talking to my husband about this book and he assumed (I guess from the movie trailer or from the book title) that this book was about an ugly girl that was chosen by her friends especially for that reason so they would look better. No, not at all. In the book, Bianca isn't ugly; she's just not as hot as her friends. Although, more accurately, she just doesn't put in the same effort to look hot as her friends do. And when she finally gets around to opening up to her friends about this duff stuff, this is her bff's reaction:

"I'm the Duff.""Sorry. The what?""Duff.""Is that even a word?""The designated ugly fat friend," I sighed. "The unattractive girl in the group. That's me.""That's stupid.""Is it?" I snapped. "Is it really that stupid, Casey? Look at you. Look at Jessica. You two look like you jumped out of an issue of Teen Vogue. I can't compete with that. So, yea, I'm the fucking Duff.""Seriously, Bianca," Casey said. "You are not the Duff. If any of us is the Duff, it's me.""Funny.""I'm not joking," she insisted. "I'm still made at you, so why would I got out of my way to be nice? I mean, I'm like freaking Bigfoot. I'm six one now! Most guys have to look up to see my face, and no guy likes being shorter than a chick. At least you're cute and petite. I'd kill to be your height... and to have your eyes. You have way prettier eyes than me."

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