I started reading this book not really knowing what to expect. I’d heard mixed reviews and to be honest, I really wasn’t expecting much from this book. However, I was thoroughly impressed. It was engaging and funny but at the same time had some serious undertones which was very refreshing to read about in a contemporary novel. This was the first book by Kody Keplinger which I ever read and it definitely encourage me to read some more of her books.
The novel is based around Bianca Piper who is a seventeen year old high-school student. She’s not a loner; she has two crazy friends, Jessica and Casey; she’s not gone through a traumatic childhood experience; her dad is a plumber and her mum is a travelling speech giver which just means she’s not around half the time. But when resident Mr Popular and Womanizer, Wesley, insults her with the term, ‘Duff’ it pushes her over the line. She hates Wesley he’s an idiot and will sleep with anything that moves. But home life takes a dramatic turn for the worse and Wesley is actually a great listener. Can she turn her life around and get control of her problems?
Bianca had a very refreshing voice that I haven’t read in any other YA book. She is snarky and sarcastic yet very protective of her friends and family. She also has a very cynical view on love which was interesting to read about. She was unlike any character I’ve ever read about and I could definitely relate to her on the sarcastic front. I liked how she handled particular situations, although she could have asked for help on occasion – but I suppose this shows just how independent and strong-willed she is. She was very direct and decisive and I think that, thanks to Kody Keplinger’s writing, was a very believable character and someone I could imagine meeting in real-life.
There are also some hilarious parts in this book, especially with Bianca and her two friends, Casey and Jessica. Those moments felt real; I could just have easily experience those moments with my own friends in real-life. Bianca and her friends had a very truthful relationship. In their group there was the slightly crazy friend who is always there for you, the loving and caring friend who you don’t think could say a bad word about anyone and the sarcastic, more-mature friend who keeps the whole dynamic together. Also, I loved the relationship that Bianca had with her father. It felt very real and again, I imagined that I could have those experiences with my own dad. I think he could be a very capable father, and was a very good person, but sometimes was a bit like a fish out of water.
However, Bianca’s mother did annoy me. (SPOILERS AHEAD!) When Bianca’s mother filed for a divorce, I felt like Bianca handled it too well. She doesn’t like her mother very much and when she drops that bombshell, you expect all hell to break loose. I would if my parents got divorced. I would be probably crying and struggling what to think but within a day, Bianca is pretty much over it and is now all matey with her mother. I didn’t think either character handled this situation very well and Bianca still sees her as a great mum, but I don’t think she handled it very well – if my mother hadn’t even bothered to tell me that she was getting a divorce, I would not just drop it after a day or two. I wanted to punch both parties and this was one of two points that annoyed me in the plot of this book.
The other point was Bianca’s relationship with Wesley. Whilst I have nothing negative to say about Wesley himself: he was very family-orientated and wanted the best for his sister and was still funny and lovable, I think that the situations that Bianca and Wesley got into were very unrealistic and a bit stupid. I can’t imagine any of the seventeen year old’s I know getting into situations like that and I can’t see why Bianca put herself in the position she did. She was a very intelligent character, not naive at all, but sometimes it seemed as though she was deliberately being stupid. It made for a smooth plot but I didn’t think it was very realistic.
I also think that there is a lot of more serious topics that are touched on which I really enjoyed: self image, self worth, family, alcohol and teenage pregnancy just to name of few of these. The most prominent of these was self image, which is a running theme throughout the book. As everyone goes through this period in their lives (or is still going through it) were they become more self-conscious and start questioning their height and weight and build I found it refreshing to see it approached in a realistic, relatable way which was also very touching to read about when Bianca was questioning so many things about herself.
Kody Keplinger has a great writing style which is humorous and engaging and kept me hooked throughout the entire book. She has written a number of other novels which I really want to read at some point in the future, considering how much this book impacted me after I had read it.
Overall, I was very impressed and thoroughly surprised by this book and I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. It’s super quick to read and will leave you feeling satisfied when you reach the end. The characters all go through extensive character development and I’m really happy about where the story ended up. I’d give this book a 4.5 stars out of 5 because I loved the writing style and the characters but there were two aspects of the book that bothered me. I’d still highly recommend this book though despite the two issues I had.