I picked up The Duff before its movie release because of the massive amount of hype around it at the time. Everyone in the online book community seemed to be obsessed with the idea of the novel being about the underdog (what novels aren’t really about the underdog?) and the easy read of it. I literally could not wait to dive in to it once I bought it, of course so I could then watch the anticipated movie!
Title: The Duff
Author: Kody Keplinger
Genre: YA, Love, Contemporary
Publisher: Little Brown
Publication Date: September 7th 2010
Summery : 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.
The first thing I want to point out is that I absolutely adore YA contemporary books, or any contemporary books for that matter. I love an easy read that fluffy and will make me feel happy and cosy inside. A cheesy love story is definitely my kind of thing. However I could not have been more disappointed with this book if I tried. Whereas it was definitely fluffy and light-hearted, it was full of clichés and teenage angst that just did not work at all.
Firstly the setting of the novel for me was very clichéd which turned the whole thing in to a bad teenage drama. Yes a high school setting in America is where most YA novels are set, however The Duff had one too many ‘this guy is cool so we don’t make eye contact with him’ or ‘this girl is a geek so we stay away from her for our reputation.’ Sometimes characters like that work but in The Duff it seemed very childish for the age it was directed at.
Due to the really bad setting and attitude of the characters, I didn’t connect with any of them. There was no middle ground for the not ‘popular’ but not ‘geeky’ people to be represented. If you’re going to write a successful novel in a high school then you definitely need to cover all bases and make each character believable. Bianca was one of the worst protagonists that I’ve had to read from with no substance to her, in my opinion.
I must admit that the way it was written was good, I found no faults in the language and style that was used to write, but the actual idea of the story was just completely wrong for me. In the beginning the story started out strong and I had high hopes for the novel. I was excited to see what happened and how it would play out. But by the time I got to the end I was quite literally enraged by the last few pages!
I know many people which have designated The Duff as a guilty pleasure read, but for me it wasn’t even a pleasurable read. The novel itself is very shallow and self-centred, not something I’d want to be teaching to a YA audience (or any audience for that matter.) I’m just very happy that I did not invest in anymore Kody Keplinger novels before I read The Duff.