The time has come to pay the Piper, y’all. And in this case, I mean Bianca Piper. For those of you who took part in our December Book Club, this one’s for you. To anyone else who hasn’t yet read The D.U.F.F. by author Kody Keplinger, consider this fair warning: MAJOR SPOILER ALERT. In this post we’ll be reviewing our first book club piece together, the parts we liked, what we didn’t like, and comparing how our expectations/predictions matched up with reality. A friend and I also wound up watching the movie together to see what major differences we could find and, well… you’ll see.
Okay. SO we know our heroine is Bianca Piper:
- High school student
- Parents are not wealthy (mid to lower economic class)
- Devastatingly bitter over former Freshman heartbreak
- Has traditionally beautiful friends
- Does not conform to traditional beauty standards, herself
And our antagonist (for all intents and purposes) is a one Wesley Rush.
- Also a high school student
- Parents are incredibly wealthy (upper economic class)
- Popular (with the ladies)
- Notorious womanizer
- Covering up being devastatingly lonely by breaking hearts
- Is traditionally beautiful
- Marginalizes (and tries to use for his own depraved ends) those who do not conform to traditional beauty standards and dubs them the Designated Ugly Fat Friend of their social circle whose only purpose in the group is to elevate those around them.
Both subjects end up using one anther (at first) as a physical distraction to take away from the emotions and the reality of their circumstances which they can’t yet face. In doing so, they develop more emotions (for each other) which further complicates things. Wesley has a good heart underneath all of the bs he puts out for other people and Bianca learns that heartbreak is a part of life and that it’s okay to let some things go in order to move forward. It’s a sort of Taming of the Shrew type storyline (which I’ve never been a huge fan of from a feminist standpoint) that I couldn’t help but love.
Initially when I started The D.U.F.F. I thought I would give the audio version a whirl. I used to do some audio books when I was much younger, specifically on long car rides with Harry Potter, so I figured why not? NOT, people. In the words of our beloved wand-maker Ollivander, “No, no, definitely not.” I hated the book immediately. And I was terrified that there wasn’t a way to salvage it. I couldn’t decide if it was the narrator’s interpretation or the author’s written voice that was doing it but whatever it was drove me up the wall. I gave it a bit and tried again with the physical book and once I had gotten a bit further into it, I forgot all about our first meeting, thank goodness.
The author’s style is very conversational and casual, very young adult (but with some pretty mature content–I’m certain that I was bright pink on more than one occasion whilst reading this). It makes it pretty easy to stay immersed in the story and even with their flaws, you end up loving the characters for who they are. I like that the author doesn’t feel the need to really “fix” her characters. Sure, there are some things they grow through and mature through but she really makes you hate them first. Bianca is a whiney jerk and Wesley is a crude, horse’s ass. They make each other better versions of themselves which is all any of can really hope for, right?
Overall Rating: A-
The character’s stay true to themselves. There are some great lines (like when Wesley lets Bianca know that he doesn’t chase girls but he’s chasing her–SWOON) and some real tension (Bianca’s alcoholic father who snaps and her selfish, though apologetic, mother). I enjoy the character’s backstories as well but I feel like some of it is a bit of a stretch. Wesley’s motivation toward his grandmother and sister, for example, seem a bit thin and underdeveloped. Also, Bianca’s relationship with Todd or Toby What’s-Its and their break-up just seemed very unrealistic in the “Hollywood romantic de-coupling” sort of way. I mean I get it, but it wasn’t my favorite resolution. I guess with books I just feel that authors have more room to end with a twist than they do in cinema and I’m a bit disappointed when they don’t. The girl hates the boy. The boy doesn’t want the girl. The boy not wanting the girl makes the girl want the boy. One or both of them screw it up until they realize what it’s cost them and then in a one quirky fell swoop, they’ve righted their upturned love boat and all’s right with the world. So in my predictions I had hoped they’d evolve beyond this and focus more on valuing themselves over the opinions of others–which they do, to some extent. I will give the author credit for Bianca setting some rules, though, moving forward. THAT is more like it.
As for the movie, a wise woman once told me: “you have to treat them as totally separate things.” She is right. You should listen to her. They are nothing alike. Read the book first if you can. I will say that there are parts of each character (movie versions vs literary versions) that I enjoy in each medium but not enough to make up for the ridiculously HUGE liberties taken with Keplinger’s novel. We’re talking a Pangea type departure here.
On that note, I’m going to wrap this up kids. Thank you so much for reading The D.U.F.F. with me. I’m glad we did it and I’m glad I (finally) read the book that has been plaguing me for the better part of a year. It was definitely worth it and I miss having a book club of sorts to discuss these things. I know a blog type setting isn’t exactly ideal for a “discussion” per say but it’s a work in progress. For those of you following along on Instagram, what are your thoughts on scheduling out a window (maybe 30-45minutes) to do an Instagram Live discussing our questions, thoughts, and expectations as we review the next book? Let me know in the comments below! If you aren’t already, be sure you’re following along here at milestogo.org AND on Instagram @milestogoxo so you don’t miss out. Until next time, I wish you all good things. Always. XO
P. s. You didn’t really think that I would forget to mention our next book, did you? I scared you there for a minute, though. So here’s where we are, tribe: I actually want to read two books. With that in mind, I need to know if y’all want to keep going with just one book a month for now or was one month too long? If you want to try two books this month and we can check in at the end of January, maybe reevaluate some things for February, we can definitely do that, too. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below or send me a message!
My January Picks:
- You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
- Turtles All the Way Down by John Green (author of The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns)
***UPDATE: So it may have been a bit ambitious to attempt these two books this month. I’ve fallen behind. So instead we will be focusing and discussing just the “Badass” book. Maybe next month we’ll be able to get a head start and tackle two!