Review: The Duff: Designated Ugly Fat Friend

Author: Kody Keplinger
  • Published: September 7, 2010
  • Publisher: Little Brown/Poppy
  • Reading Level: Grades 10 and Up
  • Pages: 280 pages
  • Source: Library

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

~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

I've heard nothing but awesome things around the blogosphere about Kody Keplinger and her awesome novels, so I've been dying to get my hands on this book and see the book that started it all. It does not disappoint. A quick and entertaining read, The Duff is a book that you'll easily find enjoyable. It has a strong message hidden within its pages that'll leave any reader satisfied.

Bianca is a strong protagonist. She's snarky like your typical teenager, but she's also incredibly intelligent and struggling to nurse a broken heart at the hands of her first thought-to-be-love...the older brother of her now best friend. Throw in a dysfunctional family and you have a girl who any teenager can relate to. I often found myself identifying with Bianca throughout the novel, though I can't say that I'd throw myself at the school's man-slut and repeatedly have sex with him to distract myself from my problems. Wesley's the typical YA man-slut (Bianca's words, not mine) turned good guy. He's good looking, struggling inside, and arrogant. Eventually he falls for the girl he used to call ugly and degrade constantly and becomes a good guy because she's changed him. Cheesy, but totally enjoyable with the way Keplinger writes it.

I guess you could say that I'm my group of friends "Duff." I'm not ugly, nor am I fat, but I'm that girl that is five foot eight and has best friends that are all under five foot two. Top off the fact that I have the skin of an Albanian though I don't have a drop of Albanian blood in me and they're all perfectly tanned Italians and I easily stand out and always seem to look a little too curvy when standing next to them, despite the fact that I am very comfortable with my body and the way I look. So I totally understood Bianca's frustration with getting singled out among her group of friends about being the "undesirable" one because she's different looking. Pointing such a thing out to a girl is beyond a low blow, which is why it sort of made Bianca's eventual reaction to Wesley odd. If a guy were to make me feel that crappy and go out of his way to repeatedly tell me that he views me as a "Duff," I would not suddenly turn around and decide to have sex with him to get rid of my frustration. I wouldn't turn to anyone to get rid of my frustration that way, but even if I would, it would not be someone that would degrade me in such a way. "Duff" is just a degrading term and I'm so glad it belongs to this novel and not reality. It's one of those terms that could mess with a girls self-image and self-esteem and lead to eating disorders and things along those lines.

Despite that one odd plot development, I found myself greatly enjoying this novel. I read it in one sitting because it's such a quick read that is easily hold your attention. Heed the warning of grades ten and up though, surprisingly it had more sex than I would have expected in it. While it's not graphic, I wouldn't want a sixth grader reading it. All in all, I'm giving this novel 3.5 stars. It is incredibly cliche and cheesy, but Keplinger found a way to make it work. The characters are easily likeable, especially Bianca's friends, and it's certainly entertaining. Sometimes, cliche and cheesy is a good thing if it has a strong and powerful moral underneath, which the Duff certainly does. Everyone has their own form of beauty, and nobody really is the designated ugly fat friend.


This isn't the most appealing cover I've seen, but the girl has this snarkiness about her that reminds me perfectly of Bianca, so I can't hate it entirely.
3.5 stars


  1. I have heard really great things about Kody and her books, too. Especially about The Duff! I have my concerns about reading this, though. But I think I really do want to read it and make my own opinions. Thanks for your review!

  2. For some reason this one was just okay to me.