The DUFF by Kody Keplinger – Book review

The DUFF  (Designated Ugly Fat Friend ) by Kody Keplinger 


When I first added this book to my reading list I didn’t know it was gonna be adapted into a movie. You see, I work in a bookstore and when this book was translated into Croatian and came out in December 2010 it was one of the least popular titles. The original English edition came out earlier that year and there was little known about the book or it’s author. The fact that Croatian publisher has not really bothered with any promotion for the book did not help either.

143364_3 The Croatian cover by publisher Algoritam – translated title KRPA (Krupna ružna prijateljica)

The reason I’m even mentioning this in a book review is not to brag how I discovered this book before the movie was in the picture ( I haven’t actually read the book until few days ago) but to draw attention to certain facts when it comes to publishing, translations and YA literature overall.

What I learned recently is that the author was seventeen years old when the book rights were sold and that was an inspiration in itself. It was like hearing about one of those lottery wining stories. When I started reading this book I was kinda annoyed by the phrasing and wording that YA population uses.  As I kept reading and comparing the translation with the original I found out that the original English version is not at all annoying – the problem was with translation.


The main protagonist is a seventeen year old Bianca – kinda neurotic, mostly intelligent and sarcastic girl that gets branded The DUFF – Designated Ugly Fat Friend by a high school playboy heartthrob. There were some similarities with Clueless plot. The third wheel girl for two pretty and more popular girlfriends.


The twist that plot takes from there was not what I expected. When I got around page 20. the book turned into a really riveting read. I am a sucker for books filled with life dramas. And this one is right up my alley.


The characters were given depth and their problems even got me teary eyed for a moment or two. This book brings to light themes like alcoholism, estranged families, teen angst in it’s many forms, sex without love. And trough it all it does not let any of the troubles and real life tragedies it speaks of, to take over the tone of the book into the pathetic. The pathos is there but it is a part of the human experience.


For such a young author the sex scenes were written in a rather realistic way. I suspect that the editor intervened in some paragraphs. There was one observation somewhere very close to the end that screamed editor intervention.

Now, I’ve only seen the trailer for the movie and I’m already worried. The plot twist is changed and the whole adaptation just worries me since it looks like a silly predictable teen comedy. The only bright point of the trailer is Ken Jeong and I’m not even sure which role he plays. See for yourself!