THE DUFF by Kody Keplinger – Review

So a while ago, I looked up “best contemporary YA authors,” and stumbled upon a blog chain of people citing their top ten favourite contemporary authors. Which was good for me, because it’s introduced me to a few new books and authors. One of those was Kody Keplinger. I remember reading about her a while ago, since she published the book as a teenager.

Age of the author aside, the book stands on its own merit. I liked this book. It challenged the “slut” stereotype, giving us a protagonist who slept with one guy a huge amount of times but was still dignified, bitchy and respecting of herself – now that’s a girl I like, even if it is troubling to promote meaningless sex with a guy you purportedly hate.

There were a few problems. Namely, the love triangle and the quick resolution of some deep issues. Okay, first I’ll touch upon the love triangle – while not opposed to them in general, I think this one in particular was a little cliché and too quick to develop. Sure, Bianca’s had a crush on Toby for three years. Sure, she doesn’t realise she’s madly in love with Wesley. But why can’t she realise that without going out on pointless dates with him?

And the quick resolution of all her issues…well, I won’t spoil it, but let’s just say that all of the problems are tied up with a nice little bow, then shoved away and never looked at again. There are no repercussions for Bianca. Nothing to mark the fact that she’d done some really stupid things. It felt like a cop-out to me.

Oh, and one more thing – Wuthering Heights. Bloody Wuthering Heights. It seems that so many romance books include comparisons to Linton and Heathcliff.

But saying that, I really did love this book. The love interest was a complete dickhead, which I liked. The main character, Bianca, was a sarcastic bitch and a hypocrite, which I also liked. The messages about sex (it’s okay to do it with someone you hate as a form of escape – it’s okay, you’re not a slut!) were a bit troubling, but I liked the “don’t judge” message. A nice debut. 3.5/5.

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5 thoughts on “THE DUFF by Kody Keplinger – Review

  1. Lovely review, and I have to agree with you on it. I read this book last summer and fell in love with because it wasn’t really like anything I’ve ever read before. Plus, I’m impressed with the author being published as a teenager.

    • It’s definitely very different, and yes, I did love that about it. I’m impressed that it doesn’t even seem like a teenager wrote it, and stands on its own as a good book. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Yeah seriously why does every YA book have to have some famous novel metaphor in it?

    I have to disagree with you on the message the book sends about sex, though – I don’t think it’s saying that it’s OK at all. I think the whole point is that Bianca using sex as a form of escape is NOT okay, and that’s why by the end when she actually does want to be with Wesley, she wants to go about it “the right way”. I think this is her acknowledging that what she did before wasn’t really right at all. But, like you said, the message overall is don’t judge – these girls who are sleeping around might have a deeper reason for being the way they are with sex, even if it isn’t right necessarily.

    • Definitely my opinions have changed since I wrote this post – I can’t remember the ending exactly, but I’m sure I’m more inclined to agree with you now. Thanks for commenting! 🙂

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