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The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend (Book Review)

Author:  Kody Keplinger

Publisher: Poppy

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Release Date: January 13th 2015 (first published September 7th 2010)

Page Count: 320

Format: Paperback (Movie Tie-In Edition)

ISBN: 9780316381802

Author Website | Purchase on Amazon | Book DepositoryGoodreads

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“You can lie to yourself if you want, but reality is going to catch up with you. I’ll be waiting when it does… whether you like it or not.”

I remember seeing this book in local book stores, but I didn’t actually pay any attention to it until it gained popularity because of the movie adaptation. I am one of the many book/movie lovers that needs to read the book before watching any movie adaptation. This of course usually leaves me disappointed after the film because let’s face it, the book is almost always better than the movie.

Goodreads Synopsis: 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.

I still haven’t seen the movie, but I do plan to as soon as possible after I have posted this review. Maybe I’ll even create another post comparing the two, but for now let’s focus on the novel.

The writing style was very campy, but definitely not in a bad way. It reminded me a lot of movies such as Mean Girls and G.B.F. which is why I can definitely see why it was picked up and turned into a film. It was fun and playful and it was also able to deal with some heavy situations. I loved the sarcastic and cynical voice of Bianca as the narrator of the story. Some of the writing was a little too cheesy for me, but it made sense with the overall feel of the novel.

The characters were well thought out and were all pretty different from one another creating a pretty great variety. We have cynical, sarcastic and smart Bianca, who has recently found out that she is what is referred to as the Duff or the Designated Ugly Fat Friend. She is going through some tough times at home and is looking for an escape which she unexpectedly finds in the popular, womanizing and very good looking Wesley, who is going through some issues of his own. These two are on opposite sides of the popularity spectrum but somehow they understand one another and help each other cope. Bianca’s two best friends, Casey and Jennifer, are beautiful, popular and yet still down to earth. We get to learn about how these three characters became friends which gives these two girls a sense of depth. There are also a lot of minor characters like Toby; Bianca’s long time high school crush, Vikki; a popular girl labeled as a whore for sleeping around with a few boys and Bianca’s parents; one of whom is almost never around and the other who is a former alcoholic.

There are times when Bianca was just a little too cynical for me. Also, for someone as smart as she is, she was pretty clueless when it came to her feelings for Wesley and also his feelings towards her. Or maybe she was just trying her hardest not to accept them. It was also suggested that Bianca suffered from a bit of an OCD problem, but I wish that the story touched on it a little more. I was actually really surprised at how much I liked the character of Wesley. Obviously, the way his character is written is supposed to manipulate the reader into disliking him, but as the story moves on you realize underneath his cocky exterior, there is a sweet and misunderstood person.

For a young adult novel, there was quite a lot of sexual scenes and some were pretty descriptive. It’s obviously not the most risque writing I have ever read, but I am still shocked they got away with putting some of those scenes in a young adult novel.

Overall, I understand why this book appeals to so many teenaged readers and I can definitely see how it will be able to work as a film. I’ve already heard that the movie does stray from the novel quite a bit, but that it is equally as charming and fun. I’m excited to watch the film and hopefully write up a comparison!


8 thoughts on “The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend (Book Review)

  1. I’m a bit on the fence regarding the comparison to Mean Girls because I personally found the movie okay. I’ve heard a lot of fantastic things about the book but I’m really worried that I won’t like it because of its similarity. But from your review, it sounds like the characters are pretty well developed so hopefully it’s a good read. I’m definitely going to be moving it up on my tbr list.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I watched the movie and it was really fun but personally I would read the book. I don’t know but it doesn’t seem the kind of book that it’s worth reading, at least for me.
    But now, after I read your review I’m not so against it after all. I might give it a try.
    Loved your review btw x


  3. Great review . Bianca wasn’t the most likable character but she had spunk at least in the beginning of the book. I watched the movie recently and I gotta say I found it cheesy , the romance just came out of nowhere for me . The book and movie both differ in the way reacts to been called a duff , I’m pretty sure I prefer

    Liked by 1 person

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