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Confessions of a Bibliophile

An aspiring writer and bookstore employee with an incredibly bad book-buying habit... I'll read just about anything (so long as it will appeal to my interests in some way), but my main loves are YA and sci-fi/fantasy. I also like quirky history and science books and will book nerd. A lot. Currently in the process of weeding out my personal library. Find me on Twitter @princess_starr or check out my YA book, Snowfall, on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/240027
The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend - Kody Keplinger I’m split on how much I really liked this book. On the one hand, it was realistic and I liked that the characters were messed-up and made stupid decisions, as teenagers do. On the other hand, I think that some of the larger issues could have been explored more in the book and I felt that Keplinger skimped on some good development, specifically with the whole DUFF discussion.Bianca is an instantly relatable character, not only with her DUFF self-image, but because she’s insecure about so much else. I liked that even though Bianca had no issues telling Wesley to “fuck off and leave me alone,” she also tends to clam up and not tell people about all of her problems at home. This is one touch of realism that really got to me—it’s very much a teen thing to do, the whole idea that they’re mature enough to handle issues but that only digs the whole deeper. I loved that Bianca had to force out what she wanted to say about being with Wesley, about her dad’s alcoholism, about her parents’ break-up. And it works because so much of this book is centered around making stupid decisions and then having to deal with the consequences and the fallout of those decisions. Bianca and Wesley sleeping together in the first place is a huge one. First of all, cheers to Keplinger for presenting that sex is what teenagers do when they’re bored. Hooray for rampaging teenage hormones. And it’s a fresh breath from the umpteemth “OMG WHEN WE DO THE SEX IT MUST BE SUPER SPECIAL. CAN WE WAIT, WE SHOULD WAIT.” I’m not saying that this necessarily a positive message, since Bianca and Wesley really get into the hate sex, but I applaud it for the realism. Which brings me to Wesley. Much like Bianca did, I seriously wanted to punch him in the face in the beginning. Even halfway through the book, I still wanted to punch Wesley. I’ve said that I don’t like jerks with a heart of gold as romantic interests, and I really hate it when they suddenly have a change of heart midway through the book. I like Wesley (as in I like how the character develops, if I spent more than five minutes with him, I would probably tell him to bugger off) in that he does slowly develops feelings for Bianca…but he still manages to inadverdantly piss her off. I don’t entirely buy Wesley’s reasons for being such a womanizer—oh, he’s just lonely!—but I like that he doesn’t have the sudden change of heart and is still kind of a jerk even by the end of the book. The character developments there, but it’s not a sudden change. And I like that this a relationship between two very flawed people, and even when they finally admit their feelings to one another, the problems are still there and there’s no magical happy ending. Again, I’m not saying that this is positive, nor do I want to come off as “Miserable couples are realistic couples!” but I like that this does address the fact that Bianca and Wesley have a very problematic relationship. Casey and Jess were great. I have to admit, when I first came into this, I was a little worried that Bianca’s friends would be catty and shallow. But I loved that Casey and Jess were supportive best friends—Casey even brings up the fact that Wesley is a bad idea for Bianca—and that there really wasn’t much cattiness. I liked that Jess knew about Bianca’s previous relationship with Jess’s brother, and that she’s willing to let bygones be. If there’s one thing I wanted to see more with them, I really wanted Bianca’s DUFF revelation moment to really be explored with these two. Casey mentions that she frequently feels DUFF-ish once or twice, but it’s never truly explored. My big issue with the book is that there’s several big plot points that get covered, but the resolution is so quick that I felt a little cheated when I read this. Specifically, Bianca’s parents’ marriage dissolving and her father’s subsequent relapse into alcoholism. Again, I liked that Bianca was reluctant to talk about it to other people, and that she had to confront her problems at home eventually. However, I wasn’t a fan that all it takes for Bianca’s father to realize that he screwed up was Wesley punching him. I felt that there really could have been more explored with Bianca’s family, and that there would have been something more dynamic to trigger her dad back into sobriety.Overall, I did really like this book, even if I felt that there could have been way more explored emotionally. I liked that this is a contemporary YA romance with messed-up characters and that it’s not a perfect, fairy tale ending for Bianca and Wesley…but it feels like it could work out for them. I really liked Keplinger’s style, and I plan on reading more of her work in the future.