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The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend - Kody Keplinger (Originally posted on my blog...)

I was completely blown away by this book. I have never been able to relate to a main character more than I was able to relate to Bianca Piper. In fact, I felt as though I was reading about the seventeen year old version of myself (except that I'd be hard pressed to go to a dance club with my friends at all...). I know that contemporary isn't the most popular genre in the Young Adult universe but if you're looking to try it out - please give this book a shot.

First, a few things that I didn't like about this book...
Okay, I've been wracking my brain. And there isn't anything specific that I would have changed about this book... but for some reason, it wasn't a favorite for me. I loved the characters - I appreciated how realistic they were... I enjoyed that Kody Keplinger used this story to address some very real and relevant issues and came to a conclusion that wasn't cheesey or a "Believe In Yourself!" motivational poster. But for some reason, it felt... lacking. I don't know why.
But again, the good far out weighed the bad. First and foremost - to my knowledge, The DUFF is a stand alone. Thank you, thank you, thank YOU, Kody Keplinger. I have been craving a really good stand alone novel for a really long time... and this delivered.

Secondly, like I stated before, Bianca was a very believable character. Her struggles were very real and her growth was fitting. I have felt like the "designated ugly fat friend" more times that I would like to admit (even now that I am an adult) and so I felt so sad for Bianca. Most of the time, Bianca was searching for an ulterior motive behind the actions of most of the people in her life and refused to accept that she was worthy of the love that she was receiving. I could see so much of myself in her and because of it, Bianca was sometimes infuriating... but it was refreshing to encounter a character who was able to get a rise out of me for reasons other than being a total Bella Swan.

Lastly, I enjoyed that the romance between Bianca and Wesley was very... interesting. I appreciated that it was not a typical YA love story and enjoyed that the chemistry between the two felt natural. I am still not entirely sure how I feel about the way that Keplinger used sex....... while Bianca and Wesley engaged in their relationship to fill the gaps in their lives, I felt as though the sexual relationships in the story were cheapened. I'm going to stop this particular topic here, though... as I don't want to open a can of worms that I'm unprepared for! (If you've read this book, I'm curious about your thoughts on this topic... let me know in the comments!)

I definitely enjoyed this book and will be open to reading more books by Keplinger. I would recommend this to an older teen audience looking for good contemporary YA. There is a lot of sex in this book... and some pretty foul language at times so I wouldn't recommend it to any middle grade aged readers (is that a real sentence?)