Monday, January 26, 2015

{BookTalk} The DUFF (Designated. Ugly. Fat. Friend): Kody Keplinger

Rating: 90%
Series: None
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Realistic Fiction, Issue Fiction, Fiction, Young Adult, 
Publisher: Little Brown/Poppy
Publication Date: September 7, 2010
Page Count: 273 
Format: Paperback
Source: Library

Goodreads Synopsis:

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.

Disclaimer: A BookTalk means that this review contains spoilers, but if you HAVE NOT read this novel, the spoiler-ey paragraphs have asterisks -more commonly known as stars- to inform you of when spoilers begin.

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?
Would I Buy It?
This book breaks down all my pre-concieved boundaries in terms of buying/re-reading. I sincerely want to buy this book and have it in my collection because THAT is how effected I am. While the cover is fitting and embodies the novel quite well.... I hate it and don't really want that on my bookshelf. Hopefully, a new cover (that's not that hideous movie coverwill be released soon.

Background & Backstory?
I picked this book up for the reasons a lot of people have in the past couple of months. On February 20, 2015, the book-to-movie adaptation is coming out. So, of course, I HAD to have the bragging rights of reading the book before the movie. There's a lot of hype around this novel, even before the news of the movie became big, I was SOOO close to giving this novel a 5/5 stars, and know exactly why people love this novel as much as they do.

What Was My Reaction Upon Finishing?
Expected, but appreciated. I have so much respect for Kody, Bianca, and Wesley.

Inexplicable Feelings: In 2014, I read five or so books that I was so confused about. I had no idea what to feel because there were ALL of the feels. The difference between a feels-filled books and the inexplicable feelings, is that these books range from TWO to FIVE star ratings. I may have hated the story, I may have loved it, but something in common with all of these books is the fact that they have made me think.

I LOVED LOVED LOVED the story, message, characters, and dynamics between various relationships. The dialogue and themes are rough.... but not necessarily gritty. The writing style, not the voice, is what killed that last half star for me. The dialogue, plot threads, and character molds (at first sight) were all hackneyed and done before. This is Keplinger's DEBUT novel, and the fact that it's so highly praised, and is being made into a movie is absolutely WONDERFUL. I would have preferred a smidgeon more of editing.

High School: If you look at ANY trailer for a movie set in high school, they give you this appearance like it's one for one and all for themselves. There are the certain labels and classifications people draw and call each other. Almost as if there's instantaneous self-damnation. If you believe in something for a single second.... that's who you become. High School is torture according to movies, and if done right, that is the best kind of contemporary novel setting. An author, such as Keplinger, who is able to find a perfect balance between an original plot and the setting because it provides reliability to the target audience without being a total cheese fest.

Sluts, Whores, and Bitches, We've Got Them All.... Kinda: Yes, I did use those words on my blog. I've come to a conclusion recently about use of language in blog posts. I'm not going to go dropping F-Bombs in reviews of Middle Grade novels.... but if I'm reviewing a book with a certain kind of language, and I need to use that word to further express my thoughts about the book.... I'm not going to keep typing asterisks between the first and last letter. That's a little noob-blogger of me. [Mini-Rant Over]

Anyways, Kody Keplinger deals with the topic of slut-shaming quite perfectly. There's the "DUFF" Bianca, who starts sleeping with Wesley, and for a sort of "darkest moment" for her character, she believes that she is a whore and a slut. By definition, she couldn't be, and by society's judgment.... society is screwed up anyway on their perspective of women. The term "slut" has absolutely NO positive connotation in society, and is only used as a degrading insult that does nothing to depict a person's character. To people squeamish of sluts, alcohol abuse, divorce, and cheating, Keplinger basically tells you to DEAL WITH IT in a way that is neither offensive to the reader or to gritty, but perfectly comprehendible to the non-booknerds of the world.

***The side character, Vicki, is brought into the light in a brief chapter when rumors of her being pregnant are spread. She is immediately slut-shamed, because it's true that she has a habit of "sleeping around." With Bianca's new-found revelation of labels just being another hurdle for teenagers during the track meet of life, she comforts Vicki, and assures her that she's not a slut.***

Wesley aka Zach Goode in an Average High School: If you haven't read the Gallagher Girls series, this will make 0% sense, but if you have.... do see how clever I am? Despite the attempt to portray him as a "bad boy" he didn't feel bad, and I quite enjoyed the dynamic between him and Bianca. She tells him to (how shall I say this PG-13?) shove his persona and douche-bag attitude up his behind quite a few times. Despite his sarcasm and womanizer stereotype, I loved him and he was probably my favorite character. Even if everyone knows bad boys can't be tamed.... let the booknerd wish what she wants.

Aint Nobody Got Time For That aka Bianca: She was a stunningly crafted character, intelligent, cynical,  and sarcastic. Yet she was forced to cope with various issues and did so perfectly. Despite getting lost in Wesley and "using" him as a distraction, she was solid with herself and who she was. Bianca would not take crap from ANYONE and I respected that in a YA character so much, almost as much as being kick-ass and cold-hearted.

How Likely Is It That I Will Re-Read This Novel?
Everyone who has been following my blog for more than a day will know that I DO NOT re-read books. I have practically yelled it from the rooftops and out of the 153 books I read last year.... TWO of them were re-reads. Yet, I legitimately want to re-read it. As in, pick it up RIGHT now and start reading it again. I am certain this will show up in my Top 15 of 2015 and I will re-read this in 2016 for sure.

How Likely Is It That I Will Read Another Book By This Author?
It will be hard to write another novel of the same caliber, and I'm not sure Kiplinger can out-do herself in my eyes, especially because I haven't heard ANYTHING regarding her other novels. Nevertheless, I am 100% willing to give another one a try and will be ecstatic if I can be as emotionally effected by another book of hers.

Conclusion: This is most certainly a memorable and raw Young Adult novel that should be recognized for the barriers it pushes past.

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