Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Duff by Kody Keplinger

You know it's been a good BEA when weeks later, you're still unearthing yourself from the galleys. I'm hoping to get out some reviews of at least a few of my BEA haul, but we'll see.

First up: The Duff by Kody Keplinger (Poppy, September 2010). I will knock people down to get to advance copies of anything Poppy prints, and The Duff did not disappoint. I got a copy after hearing Cindy Egan, queen of Poppy, speak about it. Duff, she explained, is an acronym for designated ugly fat friend. The book is narrated by Bianca, who knows her two closest friends are gorgeous but never really thought of herself as fat and ugly until it's pointed out to her by Wesley Rush, a gorgeous sex-crazed egomaniac. Bianca wants nothing to do with Wesley, who insists on calling her Duffy. Too bad for her, they've got killer sexual chemistry. What starts for them as a sex-without-strings relationship evolves into a friendship when Bianca finds that not only is Wesley's life not perfect, but he's happy to listen to her about her own troubles. Then Bianca starts dating with the boy she's crushed on for years. So why is she still pining for Wesley?

What's good: The emotional complexity. Bianca's front of sarcasm hides her insecurities from almost everyone, and her relationship with Wesley doesn't morph into instant awesomeness once she realizes the trouble he hides. The female relationships were very positive, too, even when Bianca and her two BFFs drift apart for a while. Despite feeling like the Duff, Bianca's friends don't do anything that makes her think she's less than beautiful and cherished. I don't love the cover and I thought there were some cliched sentences and phrases that screamed "amateur writer," but the potential of the book to spark discussion far outweighs these blemishes.

I also saw in Variety that McG (producer of one of my favorite shows, Supernatural) is looking to produce the movie version. I think there are definitely cinematic qualities to the book, so I'll be interested to see what happens with it.

Kody Keplinger's website || review at Good Books & Good Wine || I don't have copies to give away but if you want mine and you're the first person to ask, you can have it.


Angie said...

I cannot wait, wait, wait for this. It's the top of my ARCs to hunt down next week at ALA! I do have to ask: does the book talk about "how fat" she is? Are we talking about, say, a size 12 here or what? Either way, I'm excited to hear it's good!

Carlie Webber said...

Angie, that was one of the things I was watching for in the novel, and the answer is no. Nowhere in the book does it mention her size. All we find out is that she has small breasts and a bigger butt, but no mention of how small in relation to the rest of her.

Julia K. Riley said...

I read a synopsis of this awhile ago and thought it sounded great. Glad to know it lived up to its potential. Hopefully I'll be able to snag a copy at ALA next week!

Joanna said...

Kody was purposefully vague about Bianca's physical description because she wanted the reader to picture what they wanted, to come to their own conclusion. Because in the end it's not actually about WHAT you look like, but HOW you feel. Anyone can feel like DUFF in their group of friends, right? I know I did in high school (and sometimes still do!).

Joanna said...

Btw--great review, Carlie! Thank you!

Kody Keplinger said...

Thank you so much for the great review! I'm thrilled to hear you enjoyed the book!