A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Could lead to some valuable discussions about the realism of the high school portrayed here -- you may want to talk to your teen about their own experiences at school and if anything resonates here.
This is a coming-of-age story that will resonate with anyone who ever felt like a misfit in high school (so, pretty much everyone).
Positive Role Models
Tom is a smart kid who cares about his family and likes to learn things that interest him, although most of what he's "taught" in school doesn't fall in that category (he's constantly running down the educational system).
Violence & Scariness
Tom is beaten and bullied, as are other characters. He also beats up a bully. A couple of possible murders or suicides. Much hazing, and nasty boxing matches.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Lots of references to teen sex, masturbation, oral sex, child molesters, sodomy, rape, and porn. Tom kisses and fondles a girl and experiences oral sex. An adult character is busted for running a teen sex porn ring.
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Lots of "f--k"s and other swearing, including many offensive sexual words and put-downs.
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Products & Purchases
Some guitars/musical equipment mentioned by name. Lots of bands/musicians mentioned by name.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Plenty of smoking, drinking, and drugs (both prescription and illegal) used with no consequences by both adults and teens.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that King Dork is a funny, dark, coming-of-age book with mature content that makes it most appropriate for older teens. Though not overly graphic or explicit, it is filled with references to sex, drugs, and (have to say it) rock 'n' roll. The main teen character experiences oral sex several times, and has a couple of heavy make-out sessions. Tom is constantly running down the educational system -- and this book provides a pretty harsh look at high school -- but he is a smart kid who cares about his family and likes to learn things that interest him. This book could lead to some valuable discussions about the realism of the high school portrayed here -- you may want to talk to your teen about their own experiences at school and if anything resonates here. Tom's story may have special appeal to male teen readers.
Is It Any Good?
This debut novel by East Bay punk rocker Dr. Frank has so much going for it that it may be the literary find of the year. First, it's laugh-out-loud, still-chuckling-10-minutes-later funny, the kind of clever, sardonic, intelligent humor that will have your teens calling up their friends to read passages out loud. The humor, though, is set in high relief by the story's depth, complexity, and sophistication. There's a realism here that goes far beyond most books, either for teens or for adults. All the characters, major and minor, are more than meet the eye, and the layers of their personalities don't always fit together as smoothly as they usually do in fiction. Their lives are as complex as their personalities.
Very few ends are neatly tied up, but unlike most books that try this, it isn't frustrating at all -- in fact it makes perfect sense. Interspersed with all the plot intricacies are Tom's, and the author's, musings, bits of philosophy, rants, and outsider observations, often wickedly funny and always interesting and thought-provoking. Together it all makes for a delightful read.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.