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King Dork by Frank Portman

King Dork

by Frank Portman

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Narrated by Lincoln Hoppe.
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
Goodreads Teaser:
Tom Henderson (a.k.a. King Dork, Chi-mo, Hender-fag, and Sheepie) is a typical American high school loser until he discovers the book, The Catcher in the Rye, that will change the world as he knows it. When Tom discovers his deceased father's copy of the Salinger classic, he finds himself in the middle of several interlocking conspiracies and at least half a dozen mysteries involving dead people, naked people, fake people, ESP, blood, a secret code, guitars, monks, witchcraft, the Bible, girls, the Crusades, a devil head, and rock and roll. And it all looks like it's just the tip of a very odd iceberg of clues that may very well unravel the puzzle of his father's death and oddly reveal the secret to attracting semihot girls.
Being in a band could possibly be the secret to the girl thing but good luck finding a drummer who can count to four.

A beautifully written tale, full of teenage angst and confusion as portrayed by the main character, Tom/Chi-Mo. Chi-Mo is way cooler than he thinks he is, at least from an outside, adult perspective. Full of interesting insights, great at expressing the perpetual confusion that is being a teenager - particularly an unpopular one.

Sam Hellerman - Tom's best, and only, friend. Tom attributes far more deviousness to Sam than actually exists - or at least that is shown to the reader. However Sam does seem to have a certain ability to slide out of situations, leaving Tom in awe of his friend. But then Tom seems to assume that everyone else is able to read expressions, even those shown only in the eyes, to the same extent that he believes he is able to.

Fiona is Tom's mysterious make-out girl. Their make-out session may have been orchestrated by Sam, or Sam himself got played when he was contracted to help the girls with a project of theirs. At least this is what Sam tells atom, knowing atom would never actually confirm this with the popular girls. But what Sam didn't count on was Tom developing an obsession around the mysterious Fiona, an obsession he can't, and won't, let go of.

In the course of Tom's attempt to reconnect with his dead father he stumbles upon a mysterious note written to his Dad when he was roughly the same age that Tom is now. Once again Tom goes into full fledged obsession mode. His obsessions are something of a theme throughout the book, if not a vehicle to move the story forward. But they are brilliantly crafted, completely engaging the reader thanks to Tom's reactions to the world around him.

This is one of the more enjoyable books I read in 2014, and has left me eager to read the sequel as soon as possible. Mr. Portman really nailed the development of his characters, making them absolutely enchanting, not too mention riveting. The way he matched the progression of the story to the characters' development was brilliantly done and speaks volumes about his writing ability. ( )
  Isisunit | Dec 11, 2015 |
Being of the nerd persuasion, I wanted to like this a lot more than I did. Tom is an angsty teen, yes, a dork, but he does have a close pal Sam and they're constantly starting bands with ever-changing names. They even actually play in public sometimes. Being an angsty teen, Tom also has girl problems. Mainly, who is the mysterious Fiona he met and made out with at a party? Is that even her real name? Trying to find Fiona, he encounters another strangely willing girl who hooks up with him when her other boyfriend isn't around. And there's his deceased father - did he kill himself, what do the mysterious jottings in his old books mean, and can the evil assistant principal shed any light? There is a sequel forthcoming, and I guess I'd read it if it fell into my lap (or appeared on the Times book giveaway table), but I won't go out of my way. ( )
  ennie | Jun 22, 2014 |
This book was long, tedious, and boring. By the time we got to any sort of real plot development or advancement (approximately 250 pages into a 340 page book), I had completely stopped caring, even though there is a constant barrage of information and epiphanies for the last 100 pages or so. Maybe I just don't care about the inner ramblings of teenage boys, or I'm too jaded and far-removed from my high school days to appreciate what this book is trying to do, but I would not recommend it to anyone. ( )
  photonegative | May 2, 2014 |
I liked this book a lot at first. The story is, in many ways, charming. But by the end, i concluded that the frequent amount of blow jobs and other sexual activities portrayed as happening among high school kids was entirely unrealistic. At least among the high school kids I knew.
It's a damn shame, too, because this book was very funny and I started out really liking it. But every girl he encounters can't wait to give him a blow job, and I dont know, wishful thinking on the part of the author perhaps?
Still, there are good things about this book. ( )
  KristySP | Apr 21, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
A teenage angster deals with high school: parental units, cliques, drugs, dorkometers, sex (the good and the ugly) and Rock and Roll. The teenager's dad has died of mysterious circumstances. He finds his dad's old books. The books offer clues. The clues are kind of a Hamlet like Ghost thing; helping him deal with high society in a strange teenage wasteland. The book offers insights on how music can be a powerful force in a youth's life. It shows how writing fan zines help a kid have a voice where his voice is powerless in a world not quite ready for his opinions.

I loved the relationships described in the book. One relationship that was developed very well was the main character and his step dad. The step dad is so out of touch, but he wants to be liked by his stepson. He ends up playing a role not suited for him the "adult teenager". Older guys looks so fake when they try to be hip.

The book is definitely from a different culture than the one down here in the bible belt. Psychology is the parent's religion. The parents often want to discuss feelings. And violence is frowned upon. Down here in 863 Christianity is the religion. The parents want to discuss the bible. And violence and hunting are things dad and sons do on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday Nights. (This is a generalization it does not imply that all are like this.)

The book is a great examination of the idea of validation. We all want to be recognized, have some sort of power, and some control of our lives.

I am glad I picked up this book and gladly give it a big clucks up!
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And afterwards, in radiant garments dresed
With sound of flutes and laughing of glad lips,
A pomp of all the passions passed along
All the night through; till the white phantom ships
Of dawn sailed in. Whereat I said this song,
"Of all sweet passions Shame is loveliest."
-Lord Alfred Douglas
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It started with a book.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
A realistic/mystery novel in the same vein as Catcher in the Rye. Our protagonist is a social misfit/outcast trying to not only fit in, but also get laid and solve several mysteries throughout the novel.
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High school loser Tom Henderson discovers that "The Catcher in the Rye" may hold the clues to the many mysteries in his life.

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