Bianca Piper just learned that she has a label. She’s not a geek, she’s not a jock, she’s not homecoming queen. She’s a DUFF. A Designated Ugly Fat Friend. She’s never thought of herself as being as pretty as her friends but when the school hottie, Wesley Rush, calls her The Duff, she reacts by throwing coke in his face. Even worse, with her home life being not great, Bianca can’t seem to stay away from the distraction that Wesley provides. She hates him but it turns out he’s not so bad. And she just might be falling for the guy who thinks she’s just the Duff.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going into this book. Was it going to entertain me? Was it going to offend me? Would it do both? Could I root for Bianca to be with someone who would call her a Duff? Well, I wasn’t offended, I was entertained, and yes, I could get behind Bianca and Wesley.
Bianca was a character I really enjoyed. She was cynical and very often the voice of reason for her friends, even if she couldn’t be that for herself. She put on a touch act but underneath, she was afraid of being judged. She had great interactions with her two best friends, and even when there were some problems between them, they still cared about each other. It was nice to see those girls as friends. Wesley took a while to warm up to, after all he kept calling Bianca a Duff like it was no big deal, but the more he revealed of himself, the more I liked him. The banter between him and Bianca was hilarious and they definitely had chemistry.
I also liked that it wasn’t strictly just as high school drama. Bianca had problems at home that she had to deal with so we saw some of her parents’ problems as well. And the insecurity Bianca felt about not being as pretty as her friends was an issue that doesn’t end with high school graduation(unfortunately). She made some huge mistakes and I didn’t always agree with her way of handling things but I could buy into her reacting the way she did. Some people face problems head on, some do everything they can to avoid them.
The message behind The Duff was important but I felt it came across as a bit heavy-handed at times. It was a little too ‘lesson of the week’ that we get from TV shows, the lessons where the more they push it at the audience, it easier it is to ignore. I would have also liked to see Bianca’s friends Jess and Casey have more development. They were good friends but it never felt like I got to know much about them.
Overall, it was a fast read with a good message but some of the characters lacked depth and it was predictable.