The D.U.F.F. (Designated Ugly Fat Friend)

Title: The D.U.F.F.
Author: Kody Keplinger
Pages: 277
Genre: YA, fiction
Series? No
Publisher: Poppy (2011)
Rating: 3/6 – I liked it!

Synopsis from cover: 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, 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.

My Initial Thoughts/Rambling: And here we are with part II of my teen romance binge. Technically, this was the first one I read. I heard about it years ago, in Seventeen magazine, and always meant to read it, but never managed to buy the thing. Then I found it on Amazon as a bargain book, for three bucks I think, and I immediately ordered it! While I wasn’t blown away, it was still a great read, and I’m glad I finally got around to reading it. Possible Spoilers Ahead.

What did I think about the characters? In the first two chapters, I wasn’t so sure about Bianca as a main character. I couldn’t connect to her at all, but then a bit more was revealed, especially about her family struggles, and I just melted inside, because I could identify so easily with what was happening to her. While I didn’t agree with everything she did, I still could see where she was coming from and feel her struggles with her.

As far as Wesley, I loved his character. From the first moment we saw him, I knew there was more than meets the eye. I just wanted to scream at Bianca – “It’s just a facade; why can’t you see he’s hurting are you blind woman??” While he was completely tactless in calling Biana a duff, there was a lot of character development that grew from that situation, and he was a different character by the end of the book.

And the concept and plot? Concept: Definitely interesting. I’ve never heard of the duff – the designated ugly fat friend, a relative term depending on your company but identifying the girl in the group that is the “sympathy case.” The book was focused less on the actual application of the term, and more on the effects of being titled the duff: a much better focus in my opinion. 

Plot: It was concise, and purposeful. Keplinger never lingered on one event for too long, which was nice. There were a few parts where I wish she would have given more time, but overall it was well-paced and engaging.

What about the writing style? This is mostly what took my rating down from a 4 to a 3. Throughout the whole book, Keplinger relies on name-calling to identify characters and their personality traits. Man-whore, slut (applied to male or female), duff, bimbo, Skinny Squad (cheerleaders), etc. And, probably because I’m blonde, I was most offended by the fact that anyone who was shallow or less than academically gifted was – of course – blonde. There was not a single shallow brunette, and if I had five bucks every time the words “shallow” and “blonde” were side by side or in the same sentence, I’d be rich. It’s a personal thing, because I’ve been subjected to that stereotype time and time again in my years, so I am a bit sensitive to it, but it was like being hit with a bat over and over. 

At the end of the book, Bianca realizes how much name-calling has hurt her, and how her judgments turned out to be very wrong, and she resolves to change it. So while Bianca learned her lesson, I’m not entirely sure that Keplinger has – I read the excerpt from her next book, and she’s back to the same old habit again.

Anything else you’d like to add? I enjoyed the book, and it was a cute romance: just what I needed! I just wish Keplinger wouldn’t have had such a vendetta against skinny blondes.

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