King Dork is a book that my boss recommended, he said it was the best YA novel he’d ever read. I agree that it’s funny, original, and pretty entertaining. It suffers a little from Juno syndrome; Tom Henderson, the main character, is almost unbelievably smart and witty for a fourteen-year-old. But I do remember kids in high school who had an encyclopedic memory for pop culture (I was one of them, long long ago), and that kept Tom from being too unreal for me. However, if you don’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of modern music history (like me), you’ll just have to roll with the references and trust that they’re funny and relevant. Or, you can look them up! As a librarian, that’s what I should tell you to do.

I think a lot of kids and adults can relate to being on the outskirts of existence in high school. Tom spends his days trying to start a band with his best friend, but mostly they just come up with great band names and album titles. He finds his dead father’s old copy of Catcher in the Rye in his basement and starts his own investigation into his father’s life. A series of events leads him into some unexpected relationships with girls after years of rejection.

My objection to this book is the same as many other readers I’ve come across; if Tom is such a total high school loser (as he claims to be), how does he manage to seem so cool? How does he get these girls? As my boss pointed out, he can’t be doing too badly.

I also found the ending a little unsatisfying. Honestly, while I liked this book it wiped me out a little. By the time I got to the end, I couldn’t really figure out the meaning or necessity of the Catcher plotline. Things started to wander all over the map a little, and the explanation of Fiona’s identity was hard to believe. But I liked Tom; he made me laugh out loud quite a bit.