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Summary

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 semi-hot 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.

©2006 Frank Portman (P)2006 Random House, Inc. Listening Library, an imprint of the Random House Audio Publishing Group

Critic reviews

"The author's biting humor and skillful connection of events will keep pages turning." (Publishers Weekly)
"This dazzling novel will linger long in readers' memories." (School Library Journal)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Entertaining story of a self-confessed 'dork'

If you could sum up King Dork in three words, what would they be?

Teenage
Music
Girls

Who was your favorite character and why?

Tom / King Dork is reassuringly amusing, witty and capable.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

I quite liked a scene where someone is beaten up!! That sounds awful, doesn't it (you don't see anything!), but it's the context of why it happens and how it takes place over a few scenes. And the matter-of-factness about it as well.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

There are moments as Tom is trying to connect with his (dead) father through his books that I found quite moving.

Any additional comments?

He knows what he is. He knows WHO he is. Though he can't make up his mind what his band name (or first album) should be called.

A simple enough story at heart, it pulls lots of strands together into the general plot of 'teenage geek tries to discover more about his dead father while pursuing girls and rock 'n' roll fame'.

Tom refers to himself as 'King Dork', and discovers one day a book owned by his father containing notes and codes. Wanting to learn more about the dad he doesn't know, he tries to solve the puzzle. It's amusing that it happens to be the book that every teacher raves about - Salinger's 'Catcher in the Rye' - not one of Tom's favourites...

King Dork is a protagonist who doesn't really care what you think of him, unlike many you read about, he's pretty happy within his own skin, but he does want to know about his dad, and he DOES want to know more about girls!

I found the talk of 'Catcher' hilarious, we all know teachers who rave about certain books or their own passions as if they are life and death. And I almost laughed out loud at the constantly-changing band names and albums that the group come up with. The end of the audiobook had a bonus - several of their songs sung for us! Brilliant.

There are some great secondary characters, with one teacher who likes to confront misbehaving students in the school toilets a particular standout.

The audiobook is a great format for this kind of story and narration, a 'first person', with a friendly and knowing (yet still likeable) young male voice as Tom/Chi-Mo (I won't explain that nickname).

With some sexual content, this is one for older readers, aged 13/14 and above.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Norman
  • 23-08-06

Good but raunchy

I bought this to listen in the car with my age 12 and 15 boys. The frank talk about oral sex and sex in general was surprising to me.

I guess it didn't hurt them, but rate this one R. It's not PG-13.

N

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • T. C. Pile
  • 07-12-08

YA lit for Adults, too

I checked out King Dork to see if it might be something my teenage son might like, and ended up loving it myself. The bumbling teenager that I was long ago was suddenly present front and center, radar out for slights and bullies, longing for validation, convinced that life has no meaning outside of friends and music, and desperate for sexual experience of any kind. Took me right back there, and helped me remember that being a teenager is still the hardest time of life. It's amazing that any of us survive. Frank Portman has told a story that will resonate with teenagers, and with anybody who has ever been a teenager.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Evelyn M Kloepper
  • 10-07-06

a gem of a novel

What an absolute delight this audio book is! I don't give out five stars lightly, but this work deserves it. I'm well into middle age, but King Dork made me feel like a teenager again. A wonderful smart protagonist brought to life by the perfect reader. You'll be in stitches. An added plus to the audio version is a short interview with the author, who also performs a few songs he wrote for King Dork. All in all, a gem.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mary
  • 23-08-07

It's not just for teens

In fact, it's really more for adults or anyone who thought high school was a farce. If you liked the TV show, "Freaks and Geeks," this book is for you. A smart, hilarious story that will have you laughing and reminiscing. The author defintely did his research of 1970s music, which added to my enjoyment of the story. I am so glad I listened to this one! Note to parents: if you're liberal and open with your teens, this book is great for them. If teen sex references aren't your thing, don't share it with your kids.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Courtney
  • 11-10-06

A Hit for Any Age

I couldn't love this book more! I am an adult but when I read the description of this book I thought, "why not?" I was so glad I did!
You can't help but fall in love with the main character: his trials and mishaps that shuttle you back to the that age and his obervations that make you want to giggle behind your hand.
The narrarator captured the attitude and personality of the character and the feel of the book perfectly.
This is definately a repeat listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anita
  • 21-08-06

Delightful


Love this author and his style of writing. This is my first exposure to both him and the narrator. It was quirky and memorable. This is quite different from your normal hero or book subject, but does a fantastic job of painting a portrait of a admirable nerd.

Qualifies as a great book you are sad to hear it end.

Was completely pleased with the narrator and the book content.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Drew DeNisco
  • 13-10-16

CH 1965

I couldn't imagine myself making it through high school without this book
honestly changed my life forever

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • TQ White II
  • 08-03-15

A little slow but enjoyable

It's been a couple of months since I listened to it. I remember enjoying it. I know who the character was. I remember interactions with characters and being pleased with it's cultural insights. The band and album names were a terrific running joke.

Does it matter that I cannot, for the life of me, remember the main plot conflict or it's resolution or anything about the end of the story?

As I struggle, amused, to really dredge it out of my lame, old brain, I really can't remember.

But, I have finally recalled that he did have an epilogue that he introduced with a joke about the uselessness of an epilogue and then ran on *forever*. It's as if he was playing a practical joke. For the very first time, about half way through, I put my player on double speed. It was still too long.

Maybe that flushed the ending out of my brain. I don't know.

Still, it had fun language. Nice character interactions. A good view of the culture. You will be happy to have read it. I am.

But, take it from me. You will not be worse off if you completely skip the epilogue. I know. A shocking recommendation but, you can literally just go on to your next book and have missed nothing you care about.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Michael
  • 31-01-11

Very Good.

this story was great.. found myself making up band names according to my day to day situations.. the main character was a cool kid..

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Nicholas
  • 08-12-10

started off well, but

This book started off well, but got really stupid towards the end.To add insult to injury I found the songs included painful to listen to.