Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Good, The Bad, and the Duffy

The Duff: Designated Ugly Fat FriendThe Duff: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

When womanizing jerk Wesley Rush dubs Bianca Piper the "DUFF" of her friends (the Designated Ugly Fat Friend), it only cements her hatred for him. But then life at home falls apart, and in need of an easy distraction, she turns to the one guy she should hate forever....

This book drew me in, and I finished it quickly, but it has some major flaws that I can't overlook. I liked Bianca's voice, and I loved the way she relies on her girl friends (mostly). But I can't get over some of the messages in the book!


Bianca uses Wesley for sex, and that's wrong no matter what gender you are. If the roles were reversed, then clearly Wesley would be a total creep for doing this. And yet, somehow it's okay for Bianca because...she's hurting? She needs a distraction?

The final messages of the book: you can change the womanizer and make him love you and only you - if you sleep with him enough and he sees who you really are; sleeping with someone can prove that you're not the Duff after all.

I'm sorry, but no.

Keplinger was clearly trying to write a book about female empowerment, but I believe that the hookup culture she is so casual about hurts women. It's not empowering. It's demeaning. And though Bianca says the right things about feminism and self-esteem, it's obvious that she protests too much. Though in the end she may briefly conclude that she should slow things down with Wesley, I didn't trust Bianca's revelations very much in light of what had gone before.

It's basically a wish-fulfillment novel for teenage girls, a slightly cleaner version of an adult romance novel. (There is an oral sex scene between two teenagers that strikes me as particularly icky.) Bianca's touchstone novel for the relationship is Wuthering Heights, and I think that says the rest.

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