The Book Life

Book Talk: ‘The Duff’ by Kody Keplinger

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Goodreads:

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.

_________________________________________________________________________

My Thoughts:

NON-SPOLIERY SECTION

Before the book, I had first seen the trailer of the new adaptation that is set to release in theaters, February of this year. I had an entirely different expectation going into the novel because–as I found out upon completion–the movie premise was completely reinvented and only loosely adapted Kody Keplinger’s contemporary young adult novel.

For a reporter assignment, I had decided while I was on vacation for the new year (follow up blog about that coming up), that I would/should take a quick gander at the novel before reporting on it–duh, right? Anyway, I was in the middle of another read which sadly has been a bit slow paced for me, and decided to take a pause and hop on ‘The Duff’ train. I wasn’t expecting my inability to put the book down. Between the four hour car ride back home, then changing into pjs and landing on my glorious bed which I missed–terribly–I ended up reading the entire novel in one sitting. I was hooked and invested. Our main character, Bianca, reminded me so much of MTV’s ‘Daria’ with her cynical outlook, wit and sarcasm. I actually related to Bianca, a lot.

She soon finds out through the school’s ‘too good-looking for his own good and worse he knows it’ man-whore that she is in her circle of friend’s the DUFF (Designated. Ugly. Fat. Friend). “WTF?” was pretty much Bianca’s response. This begins to plague her mind. All of a sudden, she sees it and she gets it, and she’s simply horrified by it, because she believes it’s true.

The resident man-whore, Wesley Rush, nicknames her, “Duffy” and doesn’t seem to go away. Suddenly, he seems to be everywhere, making Bianca’s already hatred for the boy only grow. In the meantime, we get a glimpse of Bianca’s home life that’s falling apart and Bianca is not the type to emotionally divulge out loud to anyone.

My goodness, did I relate to her character a ton. I’m not nearly as cynical or clever with the wit but her emotional dealings and process mirror my own very much. Not a good thing, I know. (For those who’ve read it) 

It turns out Bianca finds a very interesting way to deal with her overwhelming circumstances and it just so happens to be with the last person on earth she would ever think, believe, or want. Wesley Rush.

For my NON-SPOILERY friends: Do. Not. Base. Your. Opinion. (of the book) On. The. Movie. Trailers! Though, I will be most likely checking the movie out (because I’m a Mae Witman fan) I enjoyed the book’s original premise/concept far more. The ‘DUFF’ concept, I thought was relatable, and pretty genius, but the true background that drove the book (unlike the movie’s, where she desires to end her Senior year changing her ‘Mean Girl’ label of THE DUFF) is Bianca’s attempt to distract herself from her problems and thinking/hoping they won’t catch up with her eventually. They do, of course. The other theme in the book that may correlate with the movie is; there’s always more to a person than the label they display on the surface. The book was a witty, fun, and quick read. I would definitely recommend it and gave it 4 out of 5 stars!

And this concludes the NON-SPOILERY SECTION of this post…Turn away. I don’t want you yelling at me. I warned you. I’m about to SPOILER-IT-UP in this joint…Not that there’s a lot more to spoil but yeah….

Wesley Rush is an arrogant, no filter, not a single hair on his freaking tongue, jackass who shouldn’t be allowed to look as good as he does. I mean, why the hell are girls so desperate that his cheesy crooked ‘sexy’ grins and lines get them falling somehow on his lap? With that said…who the hell ever thought he would grow on me, that little twit, and I would be rooting for him and Bianca?

When Bianca kissed him, I gasped out loud. I couldn’t believe she just LAUNCHED herself at his lips. What really took me by surprise was his reaction. That boy wrapped one arm around her waist and dig his other into her hair and pulled her to him, attacking her mouth as much are she was doing to him. Girl wasn’t even drunk. Nope. She was full of Cherry Coke. And pent up secrets, angst, and overwhelming parental crapstorm waiting for her at home. She needed a release. She needed not to think. She just wanted her mind to shut the hell up and her body to feel.

And damn, was that kiss hot! Now, with Wesley’s reference of her being the Designated. Ugly. Fat. Friend, I was not expecting him to react so sensually back to her advances. I mean, yes, he’s a man-whore. A shameless, no regret or qualms about his whore-ish ways, so you’d think, as did Bianca, he’d do anything with a vagina, right? Well, sure, but let’s be honest. If a guy is not physically attracted to a girl, it ain’t gonna happen. Not the way it did between the two of them.

Of course, after the kiss is over, Wesley opens his mouth and just ruins it. Every. Damn. Time. The boy always sports a shit-eating grin after one of Bianca’s weak moments, and usually follows it up with an equally arrogant, snub about how irresistible he is. Putting myself in Bianca’s position, I would get so frustrated with him. Just like her, I wanted to lash out and wring his neck…then kiss him again. Dammit!

The kisses escalate to sleeping together. The fear of her father relapsing from his sobriety comes true when her absentee mother reappears after months away, only to give Bianca’s father divorce papers. He flips out and starts drinking heavily again, which in turn, makes him angry and mean. Thirteen years away from the bottle, gone. Things are falling apart at home, and Bianca doesn’t want to confide in her two best friends–Casey and Jessica, wanting to protect her father’s weakness. Worse, she doesn’t tell them about her new enemy-with-benefits thing with Wesley that begins consuming her time.

Now, what we have here is what I like to call, ‘The Broken Cookie’. It turns out that–to Bianca’s horror–Wesley’s a great listener and his life isn’t roses. It’s pretty messed up too. He craves companionship and hates loneliness, hence the constant need to hook up with girls. He’s using his looks to put up a front that he doesn’t ‘need’ anyone. He takes back the power that’s missing in his life through his open lifestyle. This is what connects the two. The ‘broken cookie’ syndrome is the swooning of girls around the world, excited to find their own hot Wesley they can “fix” too. Negative, Captain! *blaring warning alarms* But hey, that’s reality. Back to the fantasy world of fiction!

“Wesley Rush doesn’t chase girls, but I’m chasing you”

It was cute and endearing when he chose to put away is self-deprecating, self-defense mechanism and for the first time, do the chasing. He found someone who understood him, saw him for him, and gave him more than what a meaningless fling could. He chose Bianca. And in the end, she chose him back. Everyone with me, “D’awwwwww!”

Book’s Theme: 

“No matter where you go or what you do to distract yourself, reality catches up with you eventually”.

In the end, Bianca decided that being ‘The Duff’ wasn’t going to have the power it once had in the beginning. She realized that everyone felt they were someone’s DUFF. Labels like DUFF, whore, bitch, etc. are surface level stereotypes that other people give and though in part, the person’s actions may imply the label to appear true, there’s always more the the story. There’s always something deeper that provokes certain actions and behaviors. Wesley was a man-slut but deep down, his actions stemmed from something more.

Bianca’s actions throughout the entire novel lead to one final epitome: You can run but you can’t hide. Life will always catch up. Your problems will still be there when you stop hiding behind x,y, and z.

We can pretend something isn’t happening. We can find crazy or numbing ways to distract ourselves from said problems, but in the end, reality always catches up with us…maybe not today, or tomorrow…but eventually, it always does.

Book to Movie:

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Let’s vent about the movie for a moment, shall we? Thanks!

After finishing the book, something in my mind went, “Errff?” The entire time, I remember waiting for some bitch, mean girl to be introduced into the story. Why? Well, I remembered seeing Bella Thorne on the trailer. Finishing the book, I went back on YouTube to search out all the trailers and clips they have available for the movie.

Conclusion: They changed everything about the story. Now, yes, I know that all book to movie adaptations get tweaked here and there but for the most part–lately–I hadn’t encountered a book being completely strayed away from, reinventing the plot entirely. Pretty much, all that was derived from the book was the two main characters and their personas, the dreaded label of, ‘The Duff’, and the life lesson ending of, “everyone is someone’s DUFF.”

The entire interaction between Bianca and Wesley–her using him as a distraction from her life issues and that coming to it’s climax, fall, and resolution–gone. The movie now made Wesley and Bianca, apparently, childhood friends who lost their way due to social hierarchy at school, and now that she knows she’s been labeled ‘The Duff’ by mean girl extraordinaire (Bella Thorne’s newly made-up character), she enlists the exchange help of popular, hot guy, Wesley–who’s failing a class–to change her senior year status.

Basically, they went all teen cheese, rom-com, evoking the “Mean Girl” gods to give them another cult teen “as if” classic.

Why am I gonna watch it? Well, Mae Witman playing Bianca, is why. Of the entire cast, she is the only one I feel who is perfectly cast. I love her work as an actress and feel she can bring a believable portrayal of Bianca. Putting the whole, ‘they completely changed the entire book for the adaptation’ thing aside; I think it has the potential to be just that; a fun, teen rom-com a la ‘Mean Girls’.

Though I am not very confident of the writer and director who were placed on this project, there is one credit I will make. The writer of ‘Bandslam’ wrote the screenplay to ‘The Duff’. I remember seeing the movie poster for ‘Bandslam’ and seeing Vanessa Hudgens on it and instantly cringing that it was probably going to be a typically, beyond cheesy teen movie that would go from theaters, straight to Disney Channel. Boy, was I actually pleasantly surprised. A lot of that had to do with casting of the main role, Will (Gaelan Connell). The film was fun, endearing, and full of classic music references and culture. I enjoyed it for what is was. With that said, I’m hoping the trailers are pushing the teen cheese, but the actual film will have more substance and heart, like the book.

In Conclusion:

4stars

4 out of 5 stars!

I genuinely enjoyed this read. It surprised me. I related to our main character. I related to feeling like ‘The Duff’ in my group of friends growing up. I believed the issues and connection our two love interest characters had. Though I thought their “relationship” thing, whatever, was entirely UNHEALTHY and not the promising beginnings of anything grand and substantial (but hey! It’s high school. I remember my dumb choices too), I rooted for them. I rooted for Wesley changing his ways, especially after seeing into his deeper going-ons. I wish the film would’ve stuck to being faithful to the book but I understand marketing. I get why they perhaps felt, the concept of THE DUFF was brilliant and how they could play to a certain audience if they revamped it. So, I won’t hate them for it. At least we forever have the true content in the lovely things I hold dear forever…BOOKS!

And this concludes my first BOOK TALK of the New Year! HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! I hope you all had a wonderful, safe, and inspiring holiday leading to 2015. Can you believe it’s 2015??? I can’t. Still processing.

Happy reading everyone! Till next time.

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3 thoughts on “Book Talk: ‘The Duff’ by Kody Keplinger

  1. I only read the first part of this post because I didn’t want to be spoiled, but your review makes me really consider picking up this book at some point. The premise of the novel sounds interesting. However, the movie itself looks stupid. I want to read the book before/if I eventually watch the movie. Good review overall!

    1. Thank you for checking it out! Haha, I’m glad I clarified the point of no return ‘spoiler’ section. ^_^ Yeah, Do. Not. Base. Your. Opinion. On. The. Movie. Trailers! lol They took an entirely different turn with the entire plot of the story. Though, I’ll watch the movie for it’s ‘a la “Mean Girls” type entertainment, but the book’s premise and story is FAR better and more interesting. I enjoyed the book. The ‘DUFF’ concept, I thought was relatable, and pretty genius, but the true background that drove the story was Bianca’s attempt to distract herself from her problems and thinking they wouldn’t catch up with her eventually. They do, of course. The other theme was, there’s always more to a person than the label they display on the surface. It was a witty, fun, and quick read. I would definitely recommend it. 🙂

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