This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews
Bianca Piper is smart, snarky, and about as cynical as a 17 year old girl can be. She will be the absolute last person to fall for Wesley Rush’s womanizing charms. He’s a pig who nicknames her Duffy and she hates him. But when home life gets complicated and she needs an escape, kissing Wesley (and later doing much more) doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. The boy may be a jackass, but he is a talented jackass. The more time she spends with him, the more she notices that his life isn’t exactly perfect and he happens to be a damn good listener. She can’t possibly be falling for the guy she’s hated for so long, right?
I have been dying to read this since the moment I step out of the movie theater. The film was just my level of awesome. I’m a sucker for those high school rom-coms about finding yourself, so it’s no surprise I loved the film. I deliberately didn’t read this before seeing the movie. I’ve found that reading the books first can severely impair my ability to enjoy their film counterparts. Once I’ve read it, I want the film to be exactly like the book, word for word. I’m one of those people that would be deliriously happy if the film adaptation of all books were 4 hour long experiences identical to the books. I think most bookworms feel that way, but I can’t let go of the details. There are some things I can understand why it gets changed, but a lot of times there seems to be no logical reason behind changes and those anger me. It was harder to avoid this book before the movie than I thought it would be. The movie tie in edition of the novel is everywhere. It’s available in bookstores, WalMart, Target, even the tiny grocery story book section! It stalked me, but I resisted the urge to crack it open. I highly recommend anyone who has not read the book already to wait until after the film to read it. Though I adore the film, the changed a great deal of things and, if you are anything like me, it will make you angry if you read the book first. But this is supposed to be a book review, right? So let’s get back to the book!
I loved Bianca immediately. She reminded me a great deal of Katarina Stratford from 10 Things I Hate About You and that is a high compliment because Kat was my role model throughout my entire high school career. She’s intelligent and sarcastic and opinionated. She has no qualms about sharing those opinions with everyone around her and she doesn’t care about what they think of her. I went in thinking she’d be somewhat insecure, but she really isn’t. I’d say she has more self-esteem than the average teenage girl. She truly doesn’t give a fuck about how other’s see her. She knows she isn’t very pretty, but she has made peace with that fact and she plays to her strengths. I do think she was a bit harsh sometimes, but that also what I loved. She wasn’t afraid to say exactly what she was thinking, no sugar coating required. She has no qualms about throwing a drink all over Wesley when he tells her she is the DUFF and she has no problem consistently telling him what she thinks of him (hint: it’s not usually pretty).
Wesley….what do I say about Wesley? The start of the story portrays him as a cocky jackass, but since I was already half in love with him because of the slightly altered film version of him, I couldn’t help but be amused by his shenanigans. He is a dick, but I think he’s a loveable dick and he makes no promises. He may be a man-whore, but he’s completely honest about that fact. He makes no promises for more than meaningless sex and he doesn’t string unsuspecting girls along. But once you start really seeing him, how he tries to comfort Bianca (and that scene where he defends her?)…well, let’s just say I swooned. I was a Wesley fan from page one. Even when he was being a jackass, I loved him. I couldn’t help it.
Jessica and Casey were both very interesting. They are loyal friends, sticking by Bianca when she needs it and getting angry with her when she starts avoiding them. They are probably the only people on the planet whose opinions Bianca actually cares about. They aren’t perfect. Casey is a little pushy and Jess is a little ditzy, but they are both very lovable and it’s easy to see why Bianca has stuck with them.
What I really loved about this was how realistic it felt. There was no censoring to dumb things down to a “high school” level. Bianca swears and has sex and is a normal teenager. This doesn’t try to hide that side of her. I also liked that there weren’t a bunch of cliches all over the place. Maybe I just didn’t pay enough attention to the other students in my high school or maybe I just went to an abnormal school, but I don’t remember a set of “popular” people from my high school or the jocks and the geeks and whatnot. I liked this Bianca’s main goal in life wasn’t to climb a social ladder. She was just biding her time until high school was over and she could get on with her life. Plus, I loved how Keplinger played the whole love triangle aspect. Toby isn’t a bad guy. Toby is actually the perfect guy. Toby is the one Bianca wants, but sometimes what we want and what we need aren’t the same thing.
I don’t know what took me so long to find this novel and read it. Though I’m very happy that I waited until after the film to read it, I’m also sad that I went years without this awesomeness in my life. This novel is perfect. There is not a single thing about it I would change. It smart and funny and heartfelt. It has the perfect level of teen angst. And it has that I hate you until I love you thing going on that we all secretly crave. Seriously, it’s perfect.
****Thank you to Hodder Children’s Books for providing me with an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review****