The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
Published by Tundra Books on March 8th, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction
LINKS: Good Reads | Amazon | Indigo | Book Depository
Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life—at 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 father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace.
He and his fellow outcast friends must try to make it through their senior year of high school without letting the small-town culture destroy their creative spirits and sense of self. Graduation will lead to new beginnings for Lydia, whose edgy fashion blog is her ticket out of their rural Tennessee town. And Travis is content where he is thanks to his obsession with an epic book series and the fangirl turning his reality into real-life fantasy.
Their diverging paths could mean the end of their friendship. But not before Dill confronts his dark legacy to attempt to find a way into the light of a future worth living.
There were things Dillard Wayne Early Jr. dreaded more than the start of school at Forrestville High.
The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner is a young adult contemporary fiction about a boy named Dillard who is haunted by the past of his father’s wrong doings. With small town life finally getting to him, we see him fight against the grain of what everyone tells him his life is going to be and grow into the person he truly believes he is.
This book made me think, ponder, wonder, feel great sadness, and even evaluate my own life’s situation!
Dill is the son of a cult leader of a serpent handling church of God. After his father goes to jail for child pornography, Dill is plagued with living in a small town where word travels fast. His mom works most of the time, they have large amounts of debt thanks to his father, and he’s raised thinking he will never amount to anything more then is small town.
Lydia is the social outcast. She runs a successful fashion and lifestyle blog and lives for the moment she can leave this small town and never look back. At home she has a very loving and happy family, no money issues, and no stress holding her down. But at school she is ridiculed and feels she doesn’t fit in with the small town kids.
Travis is tall giant who loves his fantasy books and his online life. He comes from a fragile family on the brink of destruction. After his older brother dies in duty, his father the drunk, starts to beat him physically. His mother is powerless. He just wants to be left alone and to live in another world so he can forget his issues.
All the characters in the book are written to perfection. They are all perfectly flawed in very different ways that you can’t help but feel sympathy for them. Even if you can’t quite connect to having a serpent cult family, or being ridiculed at school, or having an abusive father, this book will definitely hit you at some point or another with it’s fantastic characterization.
The friendship was one of my favorite aspects of the story. These three are would definitely ride or die for each other. They are the only ones there for each other in times of crisis and know what makes the others happy.
Like most friendships, this one is not without it’s imperfections. There are fights, disagreements, and tragedies, but they turn to one another to lean on when times get tough, which is really endearing.
THE FEELS + THE LESSONS
This book almost broke me in ways other books could not. I was reading on the train to work one morning and the most devastating portion of the book was occurring. I literally almost started balling me eyes out from all the feels.
This books shows how unfair and flawed the world truly is, and teaches you that you need to live your life to the fullest and pursue your dreams, no matter how big they are or how many people try to bring you down.
The first quote speaks to me in volumes. I’ve always wanted to start writing stories but I never get around to it because I look down on myself. But The Serpent King taught me that I just have to do it. I shouldn’t settle for mediocre or small town ways of thinking. Think, imagine, expand, and grow!
Ok, that’s it. Let me know what you guys thought of The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner! I would love to hear your opinions as well!
Until next time,
Now he writes novels for young adults. He became interested in writing for young adults after volunteering at the Tennessee Teen Rock Camp and Southern Girls Rock Camp. As a kid, his parents would take him to the library and drop him off, where he would read until closing time. He worked at various bookstores through high school and college.