Author: Kirsten Murphy
Publisher: Penguin Books
Length: 286 pages
"You're serious. I'm so sorry. I really thought you were joking"
He hadn't been joking but he was Joe King and it was obvious, as far as he was concerned, that that was where all of his troubles had begun.
Joe King is in his final year of high school and has no idea of what he wants to do with his life. Unfortunately, he comes from a family of high achieving siblings, who have set an almost impossible standard of perfect grades and prestigious university courses. He’s also been turned down by the girl of his dreams, had a fight with his best mate and struggling to keep up his creative excuses for tardiness.
I loved the character of Joe – whilst he isn’t necessarily your typical go-getting teen protagonist, he is very engaging. Murphy does a fantastic job capturing Joe’s natural charm and the generally irreverent tone of teenage boys. Joe is a bit of a ‘Jack of all trades, master of none” and an all-round nice guy (which was quite refreshing), and I found the issues he deals with are very relatable to teens - especially those in their final years of high school. The relationship between Joe and his father, as well as that of Joe and his brother, Anthony, were both realistic and well-developed.
Whilst the plot is fairly simple and is predominantly internally motivated, it is the character of Joe which really keeps you reading – you genuinely want to see him succeed and to how he will deal with the upcoming decisions he must eventually face.
This was the kind of book I've probably often overlooked at my local library. I'm so glad I picked it up The King of Whatever this time and gave it a chance, as I thoroughly enjoyed it. There was so much I could identify with, as I'm sure many teens could, like Joe's uncertainty about his future, being unsure of your place in the world and even the fact he works at the same supermarket chain I used to. I also really liked the fact Murphy ultimately shows that it's alright to not know what kind of career or studies that you want to pursue, and touches on the realities of life as an undergraduate through Joe's brother, Anthony. A funny, honest and enjoyable read.