King Dork

King DorkKing Dork by Frank Portman

King Dork is the first novel by Frank Portman, published in 2006. A work of young-adult fiction, the first-person narrative follows 14 year-old Tom Henderson during the first few months of his sophomore year of high school.

I'd like to note a few things.

  • I'm female - it's hard to relate to a book where the main character is a guy. I have done it before (The Inheritance Series by Christopher Paolini, which I need to reread and review here!), but I find Tom very hard to relate too.
  • I never went to high school. Not completely true I went public school for grades 8 and 12. Grade 8 is a blur and I was way to shy and good to do anything or be a part of anything, best description of myself from that time was that I was a ghost! Grade 12 was in a tiny school in the middle of nowhere, where I graduated with 21 (or was it 23?) other people.
  • I have never had a close death in my life. I have experienced the passing of two grandparents, a cousin and technically a sibling (I wasn't around my family much at that point, so it didn't directly affect me, a topic for another day).
  • I have never been bullied. I have one moment in my life where I felt I was the bully. But in general, I have never been either. I am generally too shy but social adapted enough to keep pace.

Tom is obviously a guy and he goes through some pretty insane things. This book is really well written. I love the format the author has chosen to write it in and I like Tom. I am happy that parents (technically a Mom and step-dad) are present within the story and I like that his parents do try hard. I also enjoyed how Tom talked about his parents, they were irritating but well-meaning and that's how he took it. While he didn't always like his step-dad he still treated him with the respect an adult deserves.

The bullying really bothered me. Especially when it came from one particular character, a prominent adult in Tom's daily life. The ending twist made it make sense, but it didn't make it right. It's terrible that things like bullying and child abuse happen in school environments.

This book even though it's from the perspective of a 14-year-old boy includes a lot of adult content. Mostly describing his first experience receiving oral sex. And that's the part of really gets me, the girls in this book have no self-respect for themselves. I wanted to play it of as the book hyping up sexuality for the sake book sales, but I do feel that it could be a good portrayal of society. I do not know this from personal experience, just basing it off discussions I have had with friends.

I originally marked this as 1 star. But I have since upped it two 3. It is a well-written, quality story - I'm just not the right crowd for it. I am however glad for the experience. I have always wondered what public school would have been like and while I hope my experience would have been totally different, I am very sure many people can and do relate to Tom's story.

Happy Tuesday!