Let me start by saying I have not read Young Adult (YA) since I was a young adult. I would not have even considered myself a fan of the genre—I’m more of a woman’s fiction girl---until The Duff. I am now officially an adult who enjoys YA.
To truly understand the Duff’s appeal, you would first have to read Julie A Lindsey’s blog, Don’t Be A Geezer @ http://blog.juliealindsey.com/julie-lindsey/dont-be-a-geezer/, then read The Duff. The Duff is the debut Young Adult novel by Kody Keplinger.
It follows Bianca Piper who finds herself in the midst of a family crisis at a time when she thought she had love, high school and her family all figured out. When she finds out nothing is as it seems, she enlists a very enticing distraction as a way to deal with her problems. The appeal in The Duff lies in its characters, voice and plot.
The characters in The Duff share the story of many American homes. Bianca could be any teenage girl in any town in America. Everything she says and does rings true, but she is not how adults think teenagers act. She’s not the popular cheerleader who looks at being a teenager as the best years of her life—the way older people inaccurately remember their teen years. She is the real thing without being a stereotype. She is the quintessential teenager but smarter and more self-aware.
Bianca may be the main character but Wesley Rush, her arch nemesis, almost steals the show. His self-confidence and devastatingly good looks makes the story believable. If his character had been the slightest bit different you would never believe the outcome.
And contrary to what we’ve heard about Young Adult books lately, Bianca’s parents are alive and well regardless of how wrapped in their own lives they are. Her parents and friends are the glue that holds this story together—believable and just as confused as she is at times, sometimes even more.
The only thing more on point than the characters is the voice. The voice speaks loud and is distinctly today’s young adult. Bianca’s attitude drips of sarcasm and teenage wit. The thing that might shock adults is the nonchalant attitude toward sex but that’s when you remind yourself that you are reading YA--that is today’s Young Adult world.
Following the plot I found myself hoping for Bianca’s happy ending in love. I remember fantasizing in high school about the star quarterback picking little ‘ol me out of the crowd and seeing what a jewel I was. The Duff makes every girl’s dream come true—particularly if she has ever considered herself a DUFF.
It would be easy to write this novel off because it takes place in high school if it has been a while since you’ve been in high school. However, that would be an error because appearance does not cease to matter after high school. If you can relate to being the DUFF in high school then you can relate to this novel; it doesn’t matter if you are in high school or it has been two years or twenty since you roamed the halls. We can all remember being panic stricken over what to wear or how to act--typically aiming for the ‘I don’t care’ attitude and failing miserably.
I give The Duff 5 out of 5 stars for its characters, which jump right off the page and into your high school or Alma mater, voice and the plot. If you loved Sixteen Candles, Bridget Jones’ Diary or Easy A, you’ll love The Duff.