The Serpent King
Author: Jeff Zentner
Release Date: March 8th, 2016
Publisher: Crown BFYR/Random House
Rating: 5 Birds
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.
“Characters, incidents, dialogue, the poverty of the rural South, enduring friendship, a desperate clinging to strange faiths, fear of the unknown, and an awareness of the courage it takes to survive, let alone thrive, are among this fine novel's strengths. Zentner writes with understanding and grace—a new voice to savor.” — Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
I sat down with THE SERPENT KING at 4PM on a Friday afternoon, and didn’t put it down until I turned the last page a few hours later. I was totally engrossed in the story of Dill, Travis and Lydia, and even if I had needed to put it down in that time, I would have been incapable. Room flooding? Hand me a life vest. House on Fire? The fireman will carry me out. Need to shower? Okay…so I haven’t yet devised a way to read a physical book in the shower – but so help me God I will do it.
Growing up can be difficult. Growing up in a small town where everyone knows your name because you share it with your daddy who is currently in prison for unthinkable things, can make “difficult” quickly turn into “unbearable”. Dill’s life is about as grey and dull as it can get, I felt for that poor boy so much. I had a desperate need to save him, to reach in and pluck him right out of that town and shake him until he realized his potential. I mean, how could you have a happy-go-lucky life with a dad in prison, and a mom who is a MAJOR religious freak who expects Dill to stay in this little town forever and help pay off the debts his parents have accumulated. Wow what a future, right?
Well, luckily, he has his two best friends, Travis, the tall and awkward. And Lydia, the fashionable and witty. Even though graduation is approaching and with that will come the departure of Lydia to the college of her dreams, he tries his best to savor all the moments he has with the two of them together, because you never know when you won’t have another day with someone.
THE SERPENT KING is told in alternating POV’s between the three of them. Normally I’m pretty much “meh” on the alternating POV thing. It is what it is, and I’m not in love with it or hate it. With THE SERPENT KING, I found myself really enjoying it for the first time. With how different the three friends are, each new chapter brought a different outlook on the same story and made reading more enjoyable. I love knowing things the character in the book doesn't yet, most of the time it’s the other way around.
THE SERPENT KING will give you a first hand look at life in a small Southern town and all that brings along with it. It’s heart-wrenchingly honest, but still managed to be hilarious at all the perfect moments. THE SERPENT KING rocked me back on my heels and forced me to focus through tears because I needed that next page so badly. It’s easily going to make the top 3 best books I read this year.
About The Author
Jeff Zentner lives in Nashville, Tennessee. He came to writing through music, starting his creative life as a guitarist and eventually becoming a songwriter. He’s released five albums and appeared on recordings with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Thurston Moore, Debbie Harry, Mark Lanegan, and Lydia Lunch, among others.
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.
He speaks fluent Portuguese, having lived in the Amazon region of Brazil for two years.
The Serpent King Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, February 22: Jenuine Cupcakes, Kickoff Blog Tour Post
Tuesday, February 23: Book Hounds, Review
Wednesday, February 24: Mundie Moms, Review
Thursday, February 25: Curling Up With a Good Book, Review
Friday, February 26: To Read or Not to Read, Annotate a Scene Guest Post
Monday, February 29: Bookish Lifestyle, Review
Tuesday, March 1: The Book Swarm, Review
Wednesday, March 2: Katie’s Book Blog, Playlist Post
Thursday, March 3: Paperback Princess, Guest Post: Writing a Character with a Parent in Prison
Friday, March 4: Who R U, Behind the Scenes Book Secret Guest Post
Monday, March 7: Icey Books, Review
Tuesday, March 8: Stories & Sweeties, Author Interview
Wednesday, March 9: LovingDemBooks, Review
Thursday, March 10: Swoony Boys Podcast, Review
Friday, March 11: Good Books And Good Wine, Review
Monday, March 14: Winter Haven Books, Review
Tuesday, March 15: Me, My Shelf and I, Review
Wednesday, March 16: Novel Novice, Review
Thursday, March 17: Lili’s Reflections, Review
Friday, March 18: A Reader of Fictions, Author “Don’t Miss” in Nashville Guest Post