Google+ Reading Teen: The Duff by Kody Keplinger

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Duff by Kody Keplinger

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Poppy; 1 edition (September 7, 2010)
Author's Website: the Book:  Amazon

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. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that 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.

When I first read the blurb on this book I thought that this would be one of those light teen stories about the relationships between teenage girls. After reading the book I realized that it was nothing like that. I expected the story of Bianca Piper to be about a girl who was in a negative relationship with her girlfriends, being pushed into the role of "designated ugly fat friend". Much to my surprise this was not the story at all. Bianca was an intelligent 17 year old with a close relationship with her two best friends. During a casual conversation with a good-looking, popular guy, Bianca first heard herself described as "The Duff" and immediately took it upon herself as true. Accepting this label pushed Bianca into a course of actions meant to prove that it was true. Added to this situation was the fact that the relationship between Bianca's parents was unraveling and she had to learn to deal with an absent mother and an alcoholic father who had fallen off the wagon. Into all this chaos stepped a guy that Bianca had no respect for and no interest in.....or at least she thought she didn't. To her great surprise and dismay, Bianca found that Wesley was just the distraction she needed to keep from thinking about the pain in her life. The result was a ride that Bianca never anticipated and insights that brought great rewards. One interesting aspect of the book is that Bianca's physical appearance is never described. Even though she identifies with the Duff label, that description is not reflected in the way she is perceived and treated by her friends or others. In fact, one of her friends later says that she thought that SHE was the Duff.

I came very close to missing the good and meaningful aspects of this book because of the profusion of language and the sexual content. There is an abundance of both throughout the book and I found it distracting. Part of that is my own aversion to this type of language and partly because I felt it didn't really reflect the character. The sexual content is also disturbing because of the frequency and the idea that it is a problem solving activity.

Overall, I really enjoyed the story, but wish it could have been told without the excess language and sex.

  • Sexual Content: Very Heavy
  • Profanity: Extreme
  • Violence: Mild

For more details, check out The Duff on Parental Book Reviews.


  1. your review highlights all the reasons i couldnt get into the book. i did my own review here, and its pretty similar to yours.
    great review! :)

  2. I had been wondering if this book was worth reading. I don't appreciate profanity or casual sex, so I guess I got my answer.


  3. I have this book, but when I started I couldn't get past the first 10 pages, it wasn't what I was expecting and my expectations were too high.

    I might give it a try some other time,
    but certainly not soon

  4. I got this book as an ARC but had to email the publisher and explain that I wasn't comfortable with the sexual content and language. It was disappointing, because I've heard so many fantastic things about THE DUFF! :P

    Thanks for the review!

  5. "I came very close to missing the good and meaningful aspects of this book because of the profusion of language and the sexual content."

    And that's the problem...authors must realize that they may be losing their message when they try to make their books "cool." From your review, I was excited about reading this, until you got to this point. Now I'll pass...thanks for the warning!

  6. Ronnica, I agree with you. It was very disappointing to have to wade through all the garbage to try to get the message. Maybe I'm kidding myself but I tend to think that if the story is good you don't need all the gratuitous filler.

  7. I enjoyed this book more after I finished it. I don't know why but I could say that I like it with a complete view of the book. All I can say is that it's a good book but for the more mature teenagers.


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