Published by Crown Books for Young Readers on March 8th, 2016
Genres: Young Adult
Buy on Amazon
Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole lifeÔÇöat home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his fatherÔÇÖs extreme faith and very public fall from grace.
The only antidote to all this venom is his friendship with fellow outcasts Travis and Lydia. But as they are starting their senior year, Dill feels the coils of his future tightening around him. The end of high school will lead to new beginnings for Lydia, whose edgy fashion blog is her ticket out of their rural Tennessee town. And Travis is happy wherever he is thanks to his obsession with the epic book series Bloodfall and the fangirl who may be turning his harsh reality into real-life fantasy. DillÔÇÖs only escapes are his music and his secret feelings for LydiaÔÇöneither of which he is brave enough to share. Graduation feels more like an ending to Dill than a beginning. But even before then, he must cope with another endingÔÇöone that will rock his life to the core.
Debut novelist Jeff Zentner provides an unblinking and at times comic view of the hard realities of growing up in the Bible Belt, and an intimate look at the struggles to find oneÔÇÖs true self in the wreckage of the past.
Don’t you love those books that keep you so engrossed and captivated, you can’t stop reading?
The type of book that sinks its hooks into you and doesn’t let go, making you ignore errands, hunger and bed-time?
The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner is exactly this type of book.
I didn’t brush my hair, didn’t eat my breakfast and instead stayed on the sofa reading.
You’d never believe it’s a debut novel, because it’s perfect and flawless.
The writing, the plot and the characters are flat-out amazing.
The Serpent King just swept me away. As atmospheric as it was, I felt like I’m living the story, like I know and love the characters personally. I felt their pain and sorrow, as well as their joy and hope. And so many more emotions…all of them realistic and perfectly dosed. There wasn’t too much or too little of anything, allowing the story to be what a coming-of-age tale should be.
It’s a story of three young adults trying to find their way in life while finding out who they really are. For different reasons, none of them fit in and are the lepers of their little Southern town.
Dill is paying for the sins of his father in every way possible. The town hates him, his mother neglects and uses him and he doesn’t see a future for himself. Between his inner conflict of what he wants and what he should want according to his upbringing and the feeling of abandonment, he’s forlorn and broody, losing hope by the minute.
Travis on the other hand is odd in an endearing way. A disappointment to his father, he’s not who everyone expects him to be. Yet, he manages to be comfortable in his own skin, not allowing other people and life to change him. He’s loving, kind and has a heart proportional to his statureÔÇöand it’s made of gold.
And then there’s Lydia, who not only speaks her mind freely but has tastes far outside the understanding of the town’s people. This is not a combination that gets her many fans. It makes her stick out like a sore thumb. Instead of hiding and trying to fit in, she makes being different an art form. I loved how strong, sarcastic and smart she was.
The three are very different from each other, yet their friendship and loyalty are very strong.
No matter how tough things get, they have each other as they try to find their way through the maze of growing up.
They struggle at times but it allows them to grow and this is portrayed so well, I could clearly see how they they’ve come.
This story is achingly beautiful and tragic at the same time. It’s a perfect reminder of who we are, of standing up for ourselves and of facing our fears.
I laughed, I swooned and I ugly cried. What more could you want from a book?
The Serpent King is now one of my all-time faves and a book I will read again and again.
5+ navigating-through-life stars.
~Review by Paula
I have the most unexpected book hangoverÔÇöwhat an amazing read! I’m sad that I finished the story, I really truly want more! More of everything, more of the promiseÔÇöof their futures. The Serpent King is probably one of the best YA’s I’ve read. I’ve shed my fair share of tears this year, but with The Serpent King I felt every sad, scary, happy moment down to my bones.
The main characters, Dillard, Lydia, and Travis were so easy to care for. They are three VERY distinct personalities, coming from predominately different backgrounds, and yet these school & town outcast really had each others backs. They take care of each other in ways that friends should take care of each other. Challenging each others potential, offering hard truths, and providing the most heartfelt compassion. The friendship(s) they share are absolutely beautiful. Honestly, I’m bereft and finding it hard to let go of it.
The book is so beautifully written, I have so many highlights, and I’ll be adding my favorite quotes to the already growing list. Thank you to my dear friend who gifted this to meÔÇöI think it’s time to pay it forward!
I wholeheartedly recommend this story!
~Review by Cyndi