Liked might have been an understatement. I ate up The DUFF in one day. I started it around 10am, and put it down around 6pm with food breaks and some small amounts of visiting in between (it was the day before my grandma's funeral and my mom and I were trying to get some much needed rest). I was completely engrossed, entertained and otherwise enamoured.
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.What a frank and fresh look at high school, sex, sexuality, and teen life in general. I adored that Keplinger didn't mince around the whole teenage sex issue. They have it, and it's not all flowers and romance, end of story. How true. HOW TRUE! Anyone who tells you otherwise wore blinders in high school or were home schooled in a bubble. Seriously, I challenge you to think back and see if you don't have at least one sordid story from someone you knew or knew of in high school. I can easily think of half a dozen, and although they weren't me I certainly remember spending great swaths of time talking about them with friends. There was the friend who went to a hotel on valentines for some "special" time with a boyfriend, and then the person working the desk (when they checked in) later ended up at the bank her dad worked at, and leaned over the counter and pointed to a picture of her on his desk and said- "Is this your daughter? I met her at the hotel". No jokes, she was grounded FOREVER. I even knew a DUFF who was getting it on with the hot guy everyone was throwing themselves at (who turns out had major issues).
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.
But before you get your knickers in a knot over the sex talk, let me just say she's also very good about talking about birth control, STD's and pregnacy scares. Not to mention a very nice look at being the school slut and what that might mean from more angles then just the one where you condem him or her.
Obviously, outside of the fact she treats high school less as that idyllic fairy tale most others like to paint it as (come on folks, weren't we all told- high school is going to be the best time of your life?- thank god that didn't turn out to be true!) she also tells an entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable story to boot. Bianca is a great character, her friends are both believable and entertaining and Wesley is a superb villain/love interest combo. What I especially enjoyed was Wesley's slow change from the bad guy to the acceptable love interest. He's nuanced and has problems of his own which are revealed in time, non of this sudden bad boy change to dream boat because he "loves" the main girl.
A great read I can only hope inspires more of the same in the YA department, Kody Keplinger is officially on my radar of authors to watch. Did I mention she wrote The DUFF in her senior year of High school? Or that Shut Out happens in the same High school as The DUFF? Time to put The Duff and Shut Out on your TBR piles.
The DUFF, by Kody Kiplinger
Published by Poppy in paperback June 2011
Check out Kody Kiplinger's website
Buy The DUFF on Amazon