Thursday, December 30, 2010

Top Ten of 2010: The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

Over the next 5 days (the last 5 of 2010) I'll be posting my Top Ten favorite reads of the year. They're not necessarily books released in 2010 -- just books that I've read in the past year. I'll be giving the synopsis and linking to my review (if it's been posted) and telling why I love these books so much. These books are not in a particular order, they are simply my top ten favorite reads of the year.

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.

First Line:
This was getting old.

Why I Loved It: This book surprised me. With a title that stands for "Designated Ugly Fat Friend" and an apparent subject matter of meaningless sex, I was pretty wary of this book at first. I'm so, so glad I gave it a chance though. It was nothing like what I expected. There were deep, powerful messages behind the teenage shenanigans, and Kody Keplinger handled the tricky waters of teen sex in a classy and sensitive way. Bianca is an utterly realistic heroine, blending strength and stupid decisions. Her snarky and cynical mental voice sounded eerily like my teenage self at times, and I really connected with her from the start. Even when she was making obviously bad choices, I still couldn't help but be on her side. When adults try to write a teenage narrator, they're often so far removed from that time of their life that they've forgotten what it's really like. But since Kody wrote this novel when she was 17, every word rings true. It's amazing the kind of talent this still-youthful writer had at such a young age. I really enjoyed stepping outside of the paranormal realm and into the familiar territory of the real world. I felt like I really knew Bianca, and went through all her teenage trials with her. And even though I really, really wanted to hate Wesley (and did at first), Keplinger did a beautiful job of demonstrating his transformation without being heavy-handed about it. While he initially seemed like nothing more than a womanzing playboy, Keplinger beautifully shaded his character until it was impossible not to feel some compassion for the troubled teen. Overall, a stellar debut full of raw honesty and the oft-forgotten beauty of the teenage years.

Description from Goodreads. Click the hyperlinked title to purchase.


Gina said...

DUFF has been on my to-read list for awhile now. I think you just inspired me to go out and read it. Thank you.

Misha said...

I really need to read this book! It has been on my TBR for a long time.

rubylavender said...

I haven't been sure about this book, probably because it's gotten so much buzz. Or maybe because I'm on a paranormal reading jag right now. At any rate, your review makes me feel like giving it a go. Now I'm curious.

Adrianne said...

I completely agree with you review. I was hesitant, but then got sucked in.

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