The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
Published: March 8, 2016
Publisher: Crown BYR
Format: audiobook via Overdrive
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.
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. Dill’s only escapes are his music and his secret feelings for Lydia—neither 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 ending—one 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 one’s true self in the wreckage of the past.
This book is simply amazing! In The Serpent King we meet Dill, Travis and Lydia three friends from a small town who are embarking on adulthood and trying to figure out who they are, who they want to become and hoping that their past doesn't ruin their future.
Dill is trying to get out of the shadows of his father who was a minister and who is now in jail for doing some awful things. Lydia has had the best life out of all of them, she comes from loving parents and has a great future ahead of her. She is college bound and has a future in fashion and can't wait to leave her small town behind but will definitely miss her two closest buds. Travis has had a hard life with a father who is abusive and with both parents who can't get over the death of his oldest brother. Travis is a guy who lives by the beat of his own drum but who has recently met a girl online who accepts him for him and genuinely likes him.
I loved this book so much. I loved the characters who were complex yet so relatable. They were misfit kids who each had their own problems but found solace in each other. All they wanted was acceptance and to feel like they had a chance in this world despite their upbringing. This novel is well written, you felt their pain and you wanted them to succeed. There was one part that truly wrecked me but I won't spoil it for those who haven’t read it but man was I a mess! This book will make you laugh and cry but it also makes you want to cheer for these kids. You want them to live their lives to the fullest and to know that their past doesn’t have to dictate their futures. This is a truly great portrayal of teens and how lives can be in the small town South. This is one book that should be read by all.