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King Dork

(King Dork #1)

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  6,882 ratings  ·  984 reviews
In this coming-of-age, rock-and-roll, Da Vinci Code-style tale, high school loser Tom Henderson discovers his deceased father's copy of The Catcher in the Rye and finds himself in the middle of several interlocking conspiracies and at least half a dozen mysteries.
Hardcover, 344 pages
Published April 11th 2006 by Delacorte Press
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David Baker If you don't like to laugh so hard you pee your pants, don't read this book. If you don't like sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, don't read this book. If…moreIf you don't like to laugh so hard you pee your pants, don't read this book. If you don't like sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, don't read this book. If you're squeamish about nipple-pinching and various kind of -jobs (including hand and blow), don't read this book.

If, on the other hand, you like to read a funny, dirty, weird story about a high school kid with a lot of problems and a large vocabulary, read this book.

Read "Catcher in the Rye" first, though, if you haven't already been forced to read it multiple times by members of the "Catcher Cult." Consider it research.(less)

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3.56  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,882 ratings  ·  984 reviews

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Jul 02, 2007 rated it did not like it
i may be the only one, but i found this book alienating and insulting.

hey young dork dudes, be inspired! start a band and you'll get more blowjobs from bitchy sluts! yay!

young dork ladies: looking for an author that actually takes the time to write fleshed-out, multi-layered female characters that don't fall into one of three or four exhaustively exploited stereotypes? stay the fuck away.

it's been a while since i threw a book down in disgust. Frank Portman (OMG, he used to be in a band!), you
Jackie "the Librarian"
Oct 22, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: don't bother
This book started out so strong, and so funny, I loved it. And then, the plot kicked it, and the relationships between Tom and the girls he meets were so stupid and unbelievable, it ruined the book for me. I feel betrayed by the direction the book took - instead of focusing on the feelings Tom had for his dead father, and the mystery of the notes in his father's old books, the book instead strays into shallow hookups and cynical attitudes toward relationships. I think I wouldn't have such disdai ...more
Jan 21, 2008 rated it liked it
I liked it, but really Dr Frank? Why do you need to mess up the minds of adolescent teenage boys more than they already are?

The narrator of the book is funny and engaging. But the portrayals of women in this book fall into 2 classifications:

The saints - moms and sisters


The sinners - everyone else, also known as the blow job machines.

It's pretty annoying.

I'm the least OMG FEMINIST ALL MEN ARE EVVIIILLLL girl ever, but if I'm noticing this in a book, it's a problem.

Rebecca McNutt
King Dork isn't wonderful or anything, but I like how it introduces younger readers to the importance and fun of reading classic novels like The Catcher in the Rye. A lot of kids today just don't read the classics anymore because they're too busy swooning over Twilight and The Hunger Games. :-\
May 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
King Dork is a near-perfect YA book. The narrator is engaging, acerbic, hilarious, and totally relatable for anyone who ever was a punky freak at the high-school level. Thank God this book is in the first person. There are two mysteries here that require sleuthing, both around identity: one is a mystery of marginalia in Tom’s deceased father’s teen book collection, one is around a disguised mod girl he made out with at a party. Tom is preoccupied not only with individual identities but generatio ...more
Oct 05, 2011 rated it did not like it
Dear Tom (a.k.a. King Dork, Chi-Mo, Henderpig, etc.) -

Yesterday, my son turned 15. He requested books for his birthday, and I picked this one up at the University Bookstore in Seattle. I thought maybe the two of you would have something in common - you're contemporaries, both learning how to survive the modern American public high school experience. But wow - I am so glad I read your story before wrapping it up and handing it over. 'Cause it turns out you are not an influence I want in his life.
Jul 06, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Horny high school boys... and the grown-up nerds they become
I had mixed feelings about King Dork. Namely, I loved the concept, but wasn’t so hot on the execution. Tom is a funny, smart, self-deprecating narrator, and his cynical acceptance of his status as a loser is painfully true to life. With Tom's honest observations at its core, King Dork is novel in that it honors the central nerd by refusing to attribute easy YA conventions to him; for example, in any other book, Tom would find an ally in Holden Caulfield, rather than rolling his eyes at the "Catc ...more
Aug 21, 2007 rated it really liked it
An excellent anti-Catcher, pro rock-and-roll novel that is hilarious.

It also contains such passages as this:

"I should mention that Catcher in the Rye is this book from the fifties. It is every teacher's favorite book. The main guy is a kind of misfit kid superhero neamed Holden Caulfield. For teacher he is the ultimate guy, a real dream boat. They love him to pieces. They all want to have sex with him and with the book's author, too, and they'd probably even try to do it with the book itself if
Nov 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
I'm very conflicted about this book. The end is a mess, with many plot lines resolved awkwardly in a long-winded epilogue and some plot lines not resolved much at all. The book, at least its narrator (although I would argue more than its narrator), is sexist, with females consistently represented as dysfunctional and mostly there for the sexual pleasure of males. I would argue as well that its view of teenage society goes too far. Don't get me wrong, I think the average high school is a messed u ...more
Apr 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite excerpts:

"Oh, wait: I should mention that Catcher in the Rye is this book from the fifties. It is every teacher's favorite book. The main guy is a kind of misfit superhero named Holden Caulfield. For teachers, he is the ultimate guy, a real dreamboat.. . .It changed their lives when they were young. As kids, they carried it with them everywhere they went. They solemnly resolved that, when they grew up, they would dedicate their lives to spreading The Word.
It's kind of a cult
Mar 31, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya-fiction
This book is most likely to appeal to that sub-set of teenage boys who are painfully smart, horribly socially awkward, oppressed by the high school social hierarchy, who find refuge in rock and roll fantasies. Them, or the adult men who used to be them. The plot is flimsy at best and the obscure music references are likely to put off a lot of readers. However, Portman does manage to touch on some big themes of family and growing up without ever being sappy or offering easy answers. Unlike most t ...more
Last book of 2014 and I'm not sure how I feel about it. I admire it. Like, the craft of it and the structure and the atmosphere. It's ridiculously easy to read, even very engaging. And yet, disaffected protagonists, especially unreliable ones, and young ones, and male ones, have never really been my thing. I might bump this one up a star in a couple of days once I get some distance from it. Worth reading, though. Probably won't do a full review because I want to start 2015 with a clean slate, an ...more
Sep 28, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: actual teenagers
Man, I really wanted to like this book, it came highly recommended. However, the more I tried, the more I failed. Or maybe the author (sorry MrTX) failed. It strikes me that he had these really(?) great ideas but when it came to actually working them out on paper, they just didn't work. Or perhaps it's that his really great ideas didn't actually poke above the grass of teenage tedium until the final chapter or two, when you finally get the a-ha moment. It was abrupt and startling and I felt a li ...more
K.D. Absolutely
May 29, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
Recommended to K.D. by: Aaron nominated this as book for the month (June 2010)
Shelves: ya
Frank Portman's King Dork is about Tom Henderson,, a sophomore student in a US high school. Wiki defines dork as quirky, silly and/or stupid, socially inept person, or one who is out of touch with contemporary trends. Often confused with nerd and geek, but does not imply the same level of intelligence.

The story is very simple: Tom, a.k.a., King Dork, Chi-Mo (short for child molester, there is a funny story about this that made me laugh), Hender-fag, Hender-pig or Hender-fuck, is very unpopular i
Chris "Stu"
Jun 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: recommended, 2008
I'm not exactly sure why this book is classified as "Young Adult" literature, other than it's about teenagers in high school, and, thus, must be for kids.

But this book is really quite good. The narrator is probably one of the ten best narrators I've read, up there with _High Fidelity_ and _Lolita_ and _Middlesex_ in terms of having a distinctive voice and being incredibly readable.

The plot takes a couple of turns that strain believeability, but I was really on board with the book the entire way
Jul 26, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: i probably wouldn't
i really wanted to like this book, but i just couldn't. overall it was a decent waste of time, but it's only saving grace was that it was well written and witty. the storyline is confusing and not very plausible. the conclusion didn't happen until the very last chapter, was somewhat abrupt, and left much to be desired, like the author was like "oh shit, i have to finish my story in the next ten pages". the main character is slightly irritating but still manages to be entertaining (much like real ...more
Carrie Hope Fletcher
“I'm small for my age, uncomfortable in most situations, skinny and awkward. Most of the time, i walk around here feeling like a total idiot.” But when Tom Henderson finds his father's copy of The Catcher in the Rye, it changes his world. It puts him in the middle of several interlocking conspiracies and at least half a dozen mysteries involving dead peopl, naked people, fake people, ESP, blood, guitars, monks, witchcraft, a devil's head and Rock & Roll. It appears to be the tip of a very od ...more
Nov 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: donny-s-bookclub
King Dork was picked by a guy in my book club. He is very nice and I don't want to hurt his feelings but this book was a failure even keeping in mind that it was a Young Adult novel. The best thing about the book was Chi-Mo the main character's ability to come up with interesting and engaging band and song names.

the plot was very weak
While the voice and development of the narrator were good, the rest of the characters were all flat. All the female characters seem alike (moody, controlling
Feb 02, 2010 rated it it was ok
Fun characters, amusing high school hijinks, Holden Caulfield-inspired cynicism, and great dialogue, all wrapped around an irritating wannabe DaVinci Code mystery that drove me bonkers. It feels like it goes on forever and sort of peters out, but I enjoyed the characters and tone so much I still enjoyed it enough to read the eventual sequel.
Aug 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
Frank Portman's first novel, King Dork, is as engaging a read as his second novel, Andromeda Klein (which I happened to read first.) It's going to be difficult for me to resist comparing them somewhat. They're both great books, and you should read them, and let your kids read them (but probably not read them with your kids, that might be awkward.)

The eponymous hero of King Dork, Tom Henderson, is an intelligent, thoughtful high school sophomore doggedly slogging his way through the California pu
Katy Noyes
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining story of a self-confessed 'dork'

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
Ariel Acupan
May 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
By: Frank Portman

“Life is a wince-a-thon”
You really can’t win in this game called life because at the end, you die. But to make it much more unbearable, you have to pass through an obstacle course that could wear and tear you inside out. What an effing guy’s supposed to do? You put a salt on your open wound, rub it and feel the pain then wear a SMILE.

Chi-Mo is someone at the bottom of their school hierarchy, included in the infamous dud chart, the one who gets laugh at during PE for hav
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Me for

Right after I finished KING DORK, the debut novel from author Frank Portman, I sat down to write my review--and stared at my computer for fifteen very long minutes wondering exactly how to explain this book. KING DORK will do that to you--leave you speechless, not quite sure of how to put what you feel into words. I guess if I could only use two words
to describe this book, I would choose "wonderfully odd." If Tom Henderson (aka King Dork) had to describe it, i
Aug 31, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Jane by: YABC, David
It all began with a band--or to be more accurate--an almost band. They hardly practice, can't sing or play instruments, and change their name and logo at least 10 times a week--sometimes even in the same day! This is height of the book for me, especially since the blurb on the back cover practically shouted that it had much to do with music.

What the book also dealt with in enormity was Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, which unfortunately I had not read. I don't know much about music, but I kn
May 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
King Dork is a great novel of teenage alienation and enlightenment. Though the main character (and the author by extension) mock Catcher in the Rye endlessly, the novel is clearly crafted from Salinger's mold though with contemporary authenticity.

Tom Henderson, the King Dork, is a high school loser with only one friend, a whacko mother and step-father, and zero prospects on the female horizon. When he unearths his late father's collection of high school novels, Tom begins reading them to connect
Jan 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a hilarious book about a kid struggling through the fringes of society as a 9th grader. The main character is so sarcastic about how the strong kids in his school like to abuse the weak. He has kind of a indifferent philosophical attitude about getting beaten up and dealing with conflicts with the more powerful kids at school that he calls "normals". He and his friend Sam Hellerman are always pretending to be in bands and coming up with crazy band names, album titles, and track lists but ...more
Jun 11, 2015 rated it it was ok
Um...I'm not sure what the hell I just read??? This story was not for me. Maybe if I was a dude, I might appreciate it more or maybe not. I felt like there was no plot and that it just had random facts into it that turned into a story.

This is the story of Tom in the first half of his sophomore year in high school. This kid is basically a loner with one so called friend, but something happens at the talent show and all of a sudden he's like a big deal.

I can't really feel like I can write a real
Melissa Landers
Dec 01, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: NO ONE
Never, ever, ever again would I read this book. You couldn't pay me enough money.

This book, more so the author apparently, is insensitive, demeaning, womanizing, and most definitely unrealistic. The characters are shallow, one-dimensional (as has been said before), and is an inevitable failure.

I don't understand these people that are giving great reviews to this book. It's nothing.

This book has taken at least twenty steps back in the feminist revolution. It's disgusting.

Above all, this is the
Oct 17, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: library-books
this book was not good. i've heard people say that holden caulfield is unlikeable (although i disagree), and the main character of this book actually says that a lot, but holden's got nothing on this kid.

this was supposed to be a kind of snarky take on catcher, and instead it was a total dud. instead of being timeless, the story felt dated and both out of sorts, timewise. i was in school at the same time these kids were, and i still had no clue what world they were living in.

the friendships are
Apr 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is possibly my new favorite book. Tom is a character who is easy to root for, he's also extremely funny, which is nice because the book is written from his point of view. Despite being essentially a teen mystery, the book is still snarky and amusing. The mystery aspect of the book isn't exactly buried but the humor from the other characters does cause the reader to forget about this mystery at times, but it's still so enjoyable that it fits perfectly. All the twists and turns the author inc ...more
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Madison Mega-Mara...: # 19 King Dork 1 1 Mar 15, 2015 08:55AM  
Profanity in books? 3 23 Jan 28, 2014 10:33PM  
King Dork 8 41 Jun 29, 2012 04:20AM  
Typical 7th grader 1 20 Apr 16, 2011 11:15AM  
Teachers, is this you? 1 20 Apr 16, 2011 11:06AM  

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I write books and songs. Books: King Dork, Andromeda Klein, and t King Dork Approximately.

***The paperback edition of King Dork Approximately is out now, and includes a free download of the accompanying King Dork Approximately the Album. Basically if you want the book it comes with a free album and if you want the album it comes with a free book.***

Behold, my web presence:

Other books in the series

King Dork (3 books)
  • King Dork Approximately (King Dork, #2)
  • Untitled (King Dork, #3)
“Normal: lacking in taste, compassion, understanding, kindness, and ordinary human decency.” 27 likes
“High School is the penalty for transgressions yet to be specified.” 26 likes
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