So it’s been a busy few days of eating, running around in the rain and bumping into Susan Sarandon (seriously Susan, love you and love SPiN!) with my brother and dad in town, but I wanted to squeeze in a review of King Dork anyway.
I picked Frank Portman’s King Dork at the time because I needed something completely different than Shanghai Girls. That’s not to say I didn’t like Shanghai Girls, but it was very emotional at times. King Dork provided the perfect antidote. It was smart, witty and different. Parts of it, I imagine, may have made my mom blush, but it kept me entertained.
The main character, Tom Henderson, is a misfit. He routinely faces torture at Hillmont High School and things aren’t all that much better at home with his crazy mother, hippie stepdad and angry little sister. Tom does have one friend though – Sam Hellerman. Sam is also a loser and together they spend their time making up bands complete with names, cover art and song titles but usually lacking actual music. When Tom is not starring in his own rock and roll fantasies or mentally lusting after girls, he’s working on the mystery that is his father, who died under uncertain circumstances years earlier. Tom finds a box of his dad’s books full of scribbled notes and decides that perhaps these are the key to better understanding his dad’s death and his dad in general.
While I’ll admit I lost interest a little in all the crazy conspiracy theories and tangents about his dad’s death plot, I did enjoy the book overall. The best part was that, even though Tom certainly had his accomplishments, he didn’t magically and unrealistically transform into a cool kid. Even as he had some moderate success with a girl or two and made some headway in his musical aspirations, he essentially remained a nerd. But he was a nerd with a clever and wholly original voice that made you root for him through all his madcap adventures.
If you’re going to be a dork, you might as well be King Dork.