July 9, 2016

The Duff By: Kody Keplinger DOUBLE REVIEW

Before I get into my review, you may be wondering what a DOUBLE REVIEW is. Well this is a new thing I will be doing on my blog now and then where both myself and my husband review a book! It won't be a regular thing, but just whenever we have the time to read the same book. You may not know this, but he is a reader as well and he's very open to reading all kinds of genres. Since The Duff is targeted more towards females this should be a fun one. First will be my review and then my husband Patrick's review! 
*MILD SPOILERS THROUGHOUT*

Here's another one where the book is definitely better than the movie!! I watched the movie first (I hate doing that, but that's just how it happened.) and I was not that impressed with it. I would rate the movie 2.5 stars. After reading the book I really feel like everything unique (except the term "The Duff") from the book was taken out and the movie was made into another cliche teen movie.
#BookToMovieProblems

I really like how the book is more about Bianca's inner struggles with self esteem rather than being torn down from outside forces. She also has other issues that aren't even "Duff" related. Whereas the movie has a stereotypical mean girl that kept calling her The Duff and made her life hell, the book didn't even have that character! No one was really that way towards Bianca at all. The book is actually very deep and relatable to how teen girls feel about themselves. How their own criticism can be their worst enemy and each girl in a group will think of herself as The Duff. This is way deeper than some cliche accept yourself for who you are teen movie. 
#DeeperThanSomeClicheTeenMovie

I mentioned before how the book is relatable and that's because the characters feel so authentic! It's fascinating to me that the author wrote this book when she was 17 herself. That definitely comes across in how the characters are portrayed, in the friendships, and in the complicated relationships. I definitely like all of the characters better in the book. There isn't really a bad guy, just people doing the best they can. I especially like Bianca's friends better in the book and also the intense storyline with her parents. 
#FINALLYSomeAuthenticCharactersInYA

Overall The Duff is not another teen book filled with characters that don't even feel like teens. I am surprised that it actually sums up parts of adolescence for girls very well. The book is a little fluffy because it's a short and easy summery read, but it's also pretty profound in a way. I have to admit that I like this book a lot more than I was expecting to. 
#FluffyAndYetProfoundRead

I recommend The Duff for anyone looking for realistic YA characters and to every girl who has ever felt like "The Duff" in her group of friends. 
#WeAreAllDuffys

*MILD SPOILERS THROUGHOUT* 

Before I launch into my thoughts, both positive and negative, I’d like to thank my wonderful wife for letting me crash her blog-party.  She seems to have so much fun that, when she asked if I’d be willing to contribute, I couldn’t help but agree.  Without further ado, let’s get to the review…

Which is better, the book or the movie?  Most of us are going to say “book” 9 times out of 10.  Sometimes we’ll even vote for the book when we haven’t read it yet.  Why?  Because movies are often unable to fully capture everything we love about a book.  Honestly, it’s unfair of us to ask a 2 hour film to provide as much depth and detail as a 300+ page novel.  It’s just not going to happen.  My issues with The DUFF movie (The D-ovie???) go far beyond a few missing details.  Warning, since I’m going to be comparing the book and the movie, there will be a few slight spoilers ahead.

I actually really enjoyed The DUFF book (The B-UFF??? Definitely not!).  I am most definitely not the target audience, but something about this book really captured me.  Both the book and the movie start the same way: Bianca, who cares far more about having good grades than partying and being popular, is told by the local playboy, Wesley, that she is the DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) of her group.  Essentially, her role is to serve as the plain-Jane approachable gatekeeper to her “amazingly super-mega hot” friends.  This is where the book and the movie wildly diverge.

In the book, being labeled as the DUFF is almost a side plot and serves more as a symbol of Bianca’s ongoing poor self-image.  The far more pressing issues are at home, where Bianca’s mom is practically absent, and her father is struggling with alcoholism.  Searching for an escape, Bianca begins a purely sexual fling with Wesley that gets more and more intense as her home life spirals more and more out of control.  This relationship evolves throughout the novel from a form of self-degradation, to a touching and intimate friendship as she begins to see the less-than-perfect life that lies beneath Wesley’s man-whore fa├žade. 

To top everything off, one of my favorite parts of the book is when Bianca admits to her two “amazingly super-mega hot” friends that she has recently discovered that she is their DUFF.  The scene is touching and powerful as both friends admit that they see themselves as the DUFFs of the group.  It really highlights the power of insecurity and how it affects all of us in our day-to-day life.

The movie, on the other hand, has no such depth.  After Bianca is labeled as the DUFF she immediately tells her best friends.  What follows is a tragically comedic twist on the heartwarming scene from the book.  Instead of supporting one another, the three characters proceed to “break-up” via every known social media method in existence. Bianca actually says, “And don’t you dare be creepin’ on my Pinterest, whores.”  Funny? Yes. Meaningful? Absolutely not. Now, to be fair, the girls do eventually have a heart-to-heart later, but it’s not that much better as the girls tell Bianca that they are a team and that Bianca pulls her weight by being “the smart one.”  Wow.  Great friends.  Overall, the social media scene really sets the tone for the rest of the film.

Bianca becomes obsessed with this DUFF label and begs Wesley to de-DUFF her, which he does with a trip to the mall and an 80’s montage. Gone is her complex physical relationship with Wesley.  Gone are the legitimate home issues with her parents.  What takes their place?  A vapid “Mean Girl” in an on-again off-again relationship with Wesley who threatens to cyberbully Bianca into next century if she doesn’t stop hanging out with her boyfriend. I’m not by any means belittling the whole “Cyberbullying Epidemic,” but I do feel that the issues from the book were a lot deeper and touch a lot more people of all age groups.

All in all, I really loved the book, but was incredibly disappointed in the movie.  Maybe, if I’d seen the movie first, I’d feel different, but I doubt it.  I think for me, it came down to the power of the final message.  The book had a powerful message about self-esteem, self-image, and how everyone has their own demons.  The movie left us with this golden nugget… embrace the label, be the DUFF.  Not bad, but certainly not good either, and definitely not worthy of being “Based on the book by Kody Keplinger.”

This review wouldn't be worthy of Angel's blog without a hashtag, so let me try my hand at this: #LOOSELYBasedOnABookThatIsAcutallyWorthReading








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