“High school is the great, universal American experience, and even decades later there are few subjects I warm to more quickly than a juicy account of that traumatic rite of passage. None has made me laugh more than King Dork, the brainy, multilayered, outrageous, and compassionate first novel by Frank Portman.”
I agree. I recently read King Dork, by Frank Portman, and I had a great time doing so. Imagine if you took the quasi-mystery plot line of John Green’s Paper Towns and the archetypal YA novel first person interior monologue, and mixed it with an enigmatic, elliptical plotline, and a heavy dose of absurdism, and you’d have this book. It’s about a jaded high school sophomore named Tom Henderson who goes to terrible school. He has to deal with the trials and tribulations of being a creative soul in school full of dunces, his new step father, an elusive woman named Fiona and his teachers’ obsessions with The Catcher in the Rye.
Oh, yeah, and on top of that, there’s a murder mystery involving his late father going on as well. This book has the culturally literate first person discourse/narration that we’ve come to expect from a genre (disaffected young adult realistic fiction) that arguably originated in The Catcher in the Rye
, but is more serenely jaded and bemused, and less pugnaciously neurotic than some of Holden Caulfield’s other spiritual descendants (*cough cough* every single stinkin’ book by Meg Cabot, John Green, and a host of others
*cough cough*). Those other books may capture the teen psychosis better than King Dork
, but I still find King Dork
to be a better book. The writing is hilarious, the characters (the heroes, at least) are likable, and the plot is intricate, yet easy to follow. Over all, a great read.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
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