King Dork -- Frank Portman
Rather than getting into all of the reasons I loved it and writing a spoileriffic review, I'm going to mostly let King Dork speak for itself. I will say this: This book is a future cult classic. Not might be. IS.
King Dork is a book for book lovers. It's a book for word lovers -- it could actually be used as a SAT prep tool -- the vocabulary is fabulous and interesting and fun. I didn't think anyone on the planet used the word (devil head) 'callipygous' except this one boy I knew in high school. For real. It's also a book for music lovers, geeks, teenagers, adults who remember being teenagers, adults who need to remember being teenagers, those who love Catcher in the Rye, those who despise Catcher in the Rye and pretty much everybody else:
It's actually kind of a complicated story, involving at least half a dozen mysteries, plus dead people, naked people, fake people, teen sex, weird sex, drugs, ESP, Satanism, books, blood, bubblegum, guitars, monks, faith, love, witchcraft, the Bible, girls, a war, a secret code, a head injury, the Crusades, some crimes, mispronuciation skills, a mystery woman, a devil head, a blow job, and rock and roll. It pretty much destroyed the world as I had known it up to that point. And I not even exaggerating all that much. I swear to God.
Well. People that lack a sense of humor probably need not apply. But everyone else.
Tom Henderson is my favorite kind of hero:
I suppose I fit the traditional mold of the brainy, freaky, oddball kid who reads too much, so bright that his genius is sometimes mistaken for just being retarded.
The Baby Batter weeks were charaterized by a false sense of-- well, not security. More like familiarity or monotony. The familiar monotony of standard, generic High School Hell, which somehow manages to be horrifying and tedious at the same time. We attended our inane, pointless classes, in between which we did our best to dodge random attempts on our lives and dignity by our psychopathic social superiors. After school, we worked on our band, played games, and watched TV. Just like the previous year. There was no indication that anything would be any different.
Remember how Sam Markus loved Holden Caulfield so much that he should've had a WWHCD bracelet? In that respect, Tom Henderson is his (devil head) antithesis:
They're chanting "Holden, Holden, Holden..." And they're looking over your shoulder with these expectant smiles, wishing they were the ones discovering the earth-shattering joys of The Catcher in the Rye for the very first time.
Too late, man. I mean, I've been around the Catcher in the Rye block. I've been forced to read it like three hundred times and don't tell anyone but I think it sucks.
The story itself is followed up by a list of every band that Tom and Sam Hellerman created over the course of the year -- my personal favorite was (of course):
18. The Nancy Wheelers
BASS AND OUIJA BOARD: Sam Hellerman
FIRST ALBUM: Margaret? It's God. Please Shut Up.
There's also a glossary. The only thing that was missing was a list of books that Tom read -- or attempted to read -- throughout the novel. That would have been very cool. I'd be so over the moon if Frank Portman would continue to write occasional book reviews in Tom Henderson's voice. It would be rad. I think I'm not quite ready to let go of Tom yet...
Also, I kind of have a weird half-crush on Tom's best friend Sam Hellerman.