Review: Gork, the Teenage Dragon

In a weird and wacky first novel, Gabe Hudson (Dear Mr. President) pits an anthropomorphized adolescent dragon against the forces of evil, the chief of which may be high school.

Gork the Terrible, grandson of the infamously cunning and ruthless Dr. Terrible, fails to live up to the family name. Orphaned straight out of the egg when his parents' spaceship crashed on Planet Earth, Gork survived in the wild for three years until his rescue by Dr. Terrible, who returned him to the dragon planet Blegwethia and raised him like his own son--which is to say, with plenty of psychological manipulation and belittlement. The action fast forwards to Gork's senior year of high school at WarWings Academy--where the mortality rate is off the charts and seniors must pass the final survival challenge on Crown Day, when each male dragon must convince a female to wear his crown and lay his eggs. The alternatives, death or slavery and death, don't bear contemplating.

With the moral support of his cyborg dragonette pal Fribby and his talking spaceship, Athenos II, Gork aims to give his crown to the beautiful Runcita. Unfortunately, she ranks at MegaBeast on the school's "Will to Power Ranking Index" while Gork's rank is, sadly, Snacklicious. As Gork races against time to find his queen in the chaos of Crown Day, Dr. Terrible schemes in the background and a prophecy unfolds. In his search for true love, Gork strives to be terrible in a world that just might need a good guy.

Although immediately challenged to survive, Gork also faces the typical pits and pratfalls of a teenage human--with the inherent insecurity, shifting social alliances and mystery of how to break into the dating scene. Hudson often plays the awkward stage for a laugh, particularly in Gork's cheerful determination to court Runcita, which he refuses to acknowledge as a suicide mission. The pursuit leads Gork through the halls of his school, the Underworld and the lair of Dr. Terrible, a frenetic tour that constantly gives the audience new reasons to chuckle or goggle. Though the conceit of a high-tech society populated by dragons skews toward quirky, Hudson revels in his unusual world, throwing "Mutant" multi-headed and no-headed dragons, "MortalMachine" cybernetic dragons, singing trees and sentient spaceships into the mix with alacrity, as though challenging the reader to keep pace. Big-hearted and gawky, Gork gives us a lovable loser sure to win the hearts of sci-fi readers and fans of offbeat comedies. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: A teenaged dragon must find a dragonette willing to be his queen, or he'll graduate from high school into slavery in this quirky sci-fi comedy.

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