Book Review: The Duff

You guys! Apparently I completely forgot to write this review. I finished the book back at the end of February & I guess I just got so caught up trying to finish Bloodlines that I spaced it. Which is a damn shame, because I really, really loved this book.

The Duff on Goodreads

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 knew I needed to read this book from the moment I saw the first movie trailer. And now I kind of don’t want to see the movie because the book was SO much better than I expected. I kind of feel like the movie is going to change a LOT of the narrative & character motivations, simply based on what I’ve seen in the trailer. ANYWYAY…


Let’s start with Bianca. I love Bianca. She’s snarky and cynical but deep down she’s all soft and mushy. I love her. I want to be her BFF. Hell, I’d be her DUFF, I don’t care.  Bianca’s got a lot more real-life problems than most YA protagonists. Her mom kind of bailed on their family without explicitly leaving – she just travels all the time & isn’t present in their lives.  Bianca’s the “responsible” one of her friends – the one who drives them around & doesn’t party, but always makes sure they’re having a good time (even when she’s not). Plus, when her problems get to be too much for her, she partakes in my favorite kind of escapism – sex therapy.  Maybe it’s not healthy, but it sure is relatable.

And Wesley Rush – oh, Wesley. Who isn’t in love with you? Wesley’s the entitled rich kid/ ladies man who’s actually just really, REALLY lonely. I love how he opens up around Bianca because he knows there’s something broken about her, too. They are vulnerable with each other and it’s really endearing, the bond they form.

Now, let’s get back to the general premise of the book: The DUFF. Designated Ugly Fat Friend. Politically incorrect? Sure. But also a pretty brutally honest commentary on the nature of basic human vanity. Be honest: once you heard of the DUFF, how much did you think about whether you were one or if you had one? I kinda figured it was me, even though I typically wouldn’t call myself FAT, just average. It’s definitely not one of my amazing friends. Maybe everybody feels like the DUFF when comparing themselves to the people they love & admire most? Philosophical questions inspired by the words of a YA author…

Regardless, the fact that this acronym even exists is absurd – did Keplinger coin it, or was it around & just outside the mainstream? Either way, it’s mainstream now. And it’s disgusting. Even though the message of the book ultimately swung back around to “Everyone is somebody’s DUFF”, that’s not how it’s going to be used & some poor kid is going to start getting called “Duffy” and who knows what will happen after that?  THAT in and of itself is the only negative statement I have about this book: that people are going to take this word out of context, distort it, and use it for harm. Because that’s what people do.

Sigh. I still maintain that the book itself is really great. An emotional ride, heavy on the steamy bits (without being explicit), with lots & lots of heart. Characters that are complex but still relatable. Just enough plot twists to keep things interesting (even though the ending is still PRETTY predictable).

Final Verdict (no surprise):

5 star


Have you read the book? Did you also see the movie? I’d love to know how they compare so I can get over this fear of ruining the whole thing with a really bad film adaptation!


Until Next Time ❤

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