A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{September 14, 2011}   Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger

Plot: Bianca knows better than to fall for Wesley Rush; she sees him for the rich, womanizing jerk that he is. When he declares her to be the Duff, the designated ugly fat friend to her beautiful best friends Casey and Jessica, she throws a drink in his face. But when her home life starts to fall apart, she discovers that kissing Wesley is a great distraction. Her enemies with benefits relationship helps her escape from her problems… until she realizes with horror that Wesley is quite a good listener and has problems of his own. She might be starting to have feelings for the guy she thought she hated.

I was feeling a bit depressed on Sunday and I figured that nothing puts your life into perspective like some good old fashioned teenage drama (Nothing reminds me how good my life is now like remembering my high school days). D.U.F.F. was exactly the book I needed and I just sped through it.

Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up if Cindy Pon (author of Silver Phoenix and Fury of the Phoenix) hadn’t recommended it. It’s far too flurescent yellow and pink for my tastes and the title made me uncomfortable. But I’m glad I did. It’s a very fast paced story with intense emotions and realistic characters who are easy to identify with. I could say that perhaps this is because Keplinger was still a teenager herself when she wrote this but that’s not fair to her as a writer. She has a very clear style and realistic dialogues though the numerous pop culture references may date the book before its time.

Like Bianca, I wanted to hate Wesley, I hate bad boys, but he grew on me too. Bianca herself is quite funny in a snarky way. Their romance is very different from the usual fare but I got very invested in it. And there are some very interesting sexual politics going on. I felt it got a bit too after school special towards the end in the way that Bianca comes to the realization that words like DUFF and whore were merely meant to make girls, all girls feel bad about themselves, that every girl felt like the ugly one of her friends sometimes. It was as if Keplinger had paused in the story to give her readers this message. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good message but that felt heavy handed.

There is an ARC of her second book, Shut Out, sitting on my shelf. It is a modern retelling of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata and I may get to it sooner now that I know what Keplinger is capable of.

Challenges: None


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