Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
Publication Date: April 5th 2012
My rating: 4.5 stars
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. And eventually, through this realization, Bianca begins to see how harmful her unhealthy way of dealing with her problems has been, and finds a way to confront them head on.
I didn’t really know what to expect going into The Duff, but I certainly wasn’t expecting to be left with a big goofy grin on my face throughout. Keplinger in the past has been able to change my assumptions and feelings I have held for characters before and was able to do it once again with The Duff. Wesley is presented as a womaniser, he’s always got some girl draping off his arm or clinging to him. The thing is Wesley knows he’s hot; he’s not shy about blabbing about his past experiences, he has confidence oozing off him. Normally characters like Wesley I can’t stand, but for once I decided to give Wesley’s character a try, maybe there was more to him than the cocky full of himself guy that we were seeing all the time.
His first encounter with Bianca wasn’t the greatest; he basically disses her in his first few words that come out of his mouth. But like I said despite him being a jerk, I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and he does end up being helpful to Bianca in more ways than one. Bianca reminded me of myself at times; always bottling up her feelings, telling everyone she was fine when she clearly wasn’t. And I really did feel sorry for her, she had great friends in Casey and Jess and a great dad, but when some crap thing happened in her life things just got worse and worse and instead of asking for help or sharing her problems with friends, she needed some other form of stress outlet and that’s where Wesley came in. Their sort of relationship escalated really quickly, but to be honest I loved every second of it. It was fun after the first few encounters to see how Wesley and Bianca would cope with it all at school and when other people were around them, Wesley was his usual cocky self, which made Bianca and me laugh, as I knew it when these two were finally alone they couldn’t be able to keep their hands off each other. Some would say Wesley and Bianca would be two characters that you wouldn’t ever suspect of being together, but once they started spending more time together, you could see that they had a lot more in common; stuff happening at home that was hard to explain to others. But once they started talking more I’m glad that they were able to be there for one another. I especially loved being able to see this different side to Wesley, this caring softer side. I like Bianca was quickly able to realise which way their relationship, (could you even call it that?) was heading. And I was all for it, but I at the same time I understood her reservations about it, I wish that she had handled it differently (highlight to view spoiler) instead of running away from Wesley and making out with Tucker to try and forget Wesley, because it was clear to me exactly how Wesley felt.
Despite the numerous bumps along the way I loved the character growth that both Wesley and Bianca went through especially Wesley. I liked his cocky nature at the beginning of the book, but some of his sweet gestures later on were to die for. Wesley and Bianca definitely left a great impression on me with this story, but I’m glad that Keplinger also included some great secondary characters such as Jess and Casey; not only were they great friends to Bianca, but they were also great friends in that they always spoke the truth, more so when Bianca needed to hear it the most. Keplinger once again was able to mix up well in The Duff, there were some emotional tough issues that a lot of our characters had to experience and it was hard at times having to see characters which had quickly become my favourites in a small amount of time go through this. But Keplinger really did deal with these serious issues really well. I also loved seeing when some of these characters were able to get through these difficult times, as then they were wonderful, bubbly, happy, funny characters that could have you bursting out laughing in an instant.
The Duff was a book which I had on my top pile for the longest time, I’m grateful for finally giving it a go, as I know now that it will become one of those books that I shall be reading time and time again. Now all I need is The Duff movie to be released in the UK as I need to see this movie like now!