*I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*
Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books
Release Date: January 1st 2010
Summary (From Goodreads):
Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “Duffy,” she throws her Coke in his face.
But things aren’t so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley.
Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.
I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised how this book turned out. I read it after seeing the film trailer and I had a completely wrong impression of it. From the trailer, it looked like, after being called the Duff, Bianca had a makeover and got hot and won over the cute boy. It looked like a fun film but that wasn’t a message I could get behind in a book for teenagers.
That’s not quite how it goes in this book. After being called the Duff, Bianca falls for the person who called her it, despite the fact that he is a big man-whore and still insists on calling her Duffy. I did have a problem with this, as I couldn’t see how, even if he was providing her with escape, Bianca could let herself fall for someone who called her a nickname based on her being fat and ugly. It just doesn’t make sense in my head. If that was me, I would feel hurt and angry that he kept calling me that, and while Bianca does display these emotions, it doesn’t stop her going back to him again and again. While I know he wasn’t as shallow and awful as he appeared to be, it still didn’t make sense to me.
I found the characterisation in the book was often forced upon you: Bianca kept reminding us she was cynical and snappy, that Jess was bubbly and naive, that Wesley was smooth and a creep. It felt like I was constantly being told these things rather than showed, which made the characterisation seem a bit flat. The comparison to Wuthering Heights also seemed shoehorned in and that was jarring.
I’m glad that the overall message of the book wasn’t: if someone calls you fat and ugly, make yourself thin and hot. Instead, it leaned more towards: everyone sometimes thinks they’re the fat, ugly one, don’t let it get you down. I think the point was that everyone has insecurities, even your 6ft tall, skinny, blonde cheerleader friend. The message did get a little lost under all the romance complications though.
Overall I found this a pleasant bit of light reading. It’s a bit high-school drama for me, which isn’t really my cup of tea, but it does touch on some interesting issues of secrets, escapism and alcoholism. I’m sure a lot of people will be going to see the film and I hope they read the book first!
I enjoyed – give it a read
In honour of International Women’s Day last week, I’ve decided this week’s Top Five will be dedicated to my favourite and most inspirational women in YA fiction. There’s a lot to choose from so this was a particularly hard one to narrow down!
Rachel (Animorph series)
K. A. Applegate
Rachel is the ultimate tough girl/Xena: Warrior Princess. She finds herself one of Earth’s last hopes in a secret invasion and she kicks butt. I love the darker side of her character as she revels in the violence and danger, but also the vulnerabilities she can show and the fierce love she has for her sisters.
Hermione Granger (Harry Potter series)
J. K. Rowling
Not only is Hermione brave and has a good hand in saving the wizarding world, she is smart with it and saves Harry and Ron’s skins plenty of times along their journey. She’s passionate about charitable causes (remember the Elf Liberation Front?) and she knows who she is, even if others don’t like it.
Katniss Everdeen (Hunger Games series)
She’s become a bit of an idol lately (helped by the amazing portrayal by Jennifer Lawrence). She’s strong, brave and makes the ultimate sacrifice to save her little sister. She heads a revolution and manages to go through atrocities without becoming a monster herself.
Rialle (The Echorium Sequence)
I’ve always loved Rialle, and one of the things I love most is how vulnerable she is and how she grows in the first book. She might cry easily and be afraid a lot but that doesn’t mean she’s not a strong women, and it doesn’t stop her from saving her friends. She risks herself to stop her home and friends being destroyed and you can’t help but love her.
And the winner is…
Lyra Belacqua (His Dark Materials)
Lyra was my inspiration growing up. She’s a little wild, headstrong and fiercely loyal and it was such a pleasure to follow her story. She doesn’t let anyone stop her from doing what she wants to and what she needs to. She’s another who makes great sacrifices to herself for the greater good, and the pain of that made me love her all the more.
Which women in books have inspired you?