Read The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner Michael Crouch Ariadne Meyers Ethan Sawyer Online


"The Serpent King is a book you won't be able to resist or forget. The Southern boy in me savored every syllable and the reader in me fell in love with every page." --John Corey Whaley, National Book Award finalist and Printz Award winnerDill 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"The Serpent King is a book you won't be able to resist or forget. The Southern boy in me savored every syllable and the reader in me fell in love with every page." --John Corey Whaley, National Book Award finalist and Printz Award winnerDill 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.Includes the song "Birds Fly South," performed by the author and Elin Palmer.Praise for The Serpent King "Zentner combines the melancholy of being 17 with the melancholy present in the best of Southern fiction and gives us a novel that will fill the infinite space that was left in your chest after you finished The Perks of Being a Wallflower." -- BookRiot"The Serpent King gripped me in its coils and kept me turning pages late into the night. A triumph of love and dignity."--Stephanie Perkins, New York Times bestselling author...

Title : The Serpent King
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780147521316
Format Type : Audiobook
Number of Pages : 9 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Serpent King Reviews

  • Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
    2018-08-03 09:17

    This book just knocked a whole lot of books down on my favorites list and it's a young adult book. It's one of my top books ever and I'm terrified to review it because I'm so scared that I can't do it any justice and I want everyone to read this book. People live quiet lives and that's okay. There's dignity in that, no matter what you may think.Set in a rural Tennessee small town that was named after a big wig in the KKK the story takes place over one year. One year in the life of three teenagers that are in their last year of highschool. Travis is a big guy that dresses all in black with a dragon necklace and his homemade staff. He wants to take that dang staff everywhere he goes. He is obsessed with a fantasy book series called Bloodfall and except for his two friends Dill and Lydia, he would rather live in his fantasy world and escape his abusive father."Rest, O Knight, proud in victory, proud in death. Let your name evermore be a light to those who loved you. Let white flowers grow upon this place that you rest. Yours was a life well lived, and now you dine in the halls of the Elders at their eternal feast.""I had no idea those books meant that much to you Travis," Lydia murmured. "Now I fell all bad about making all those Bloodfall jokes.""Does that mean you'll read them?""No."Lydia is that free spirit. Her family is actually pretty well off and very supportive, but Lydia doesn't fit in with the small town Bible belt because she can't conform. She wears eclectic clothing and is sarcastic to almost being abrasive. She runs a blog on fashion advice called Dollywould. Lydia can not wait to get out of this hick town and take on the world.Then you have Dill. Dill's preacher dad recently went to prison. Not for having his congregation handle copperheads and rattlesnakes or even for having them drink strychnine, but Dill's mom and of course his dad blame Dill for him ending up in prison. Dill hates life in the town and is teased and ridiculed because of who his father is. He and his mom swim in debt that his father left them and his Jesus freak mom can't wait for Dill to quit school and help her share some of the load of his father's bills. The only shining lights in Dill's life are his two friends and Lydia is leaving soon. That is just a small peek at these characters. Because they all three are just so much more.The author of this book writes this whole living in a small southern town to absolute perfection. The people, the setting, the smells in the air. Perfection. Then the whole having a dad in prison thing. My real life involved that and he completely wrapped me in this story. Even though my story was many years ago..I felt for this kid so much. And depression. He describes that sinking cesspool of depression like I've never read before. If you haven't had a time in your life where you just could not get out of bed and make yourself function..this book puts you there. But it's not just that. Don't think it's just a "head in the oven" book. It's a book about feeling trapped and moving on. Feeling you can't do what others say you can't and moving on. Standing up for yourself and moving on. It's about that light still shining."I read somewhere that a lot of the stars we see don't exist anymore. They've already died and it's taken millions of years for their light to reach Earth," Dill said. "That wouldn't be a bad way to die," Lydia said. "Giving off light for million of years after you're gone."I'm probably going to have to restrict myself from coming and looking at reviews for this book..because for the first time ever it's a book that I would want to troll someone for hating. I wouldn't do that because then I would be an asshole but I love this one just that much.I was reading it last night and trying to keep from tears coming down my face and I looked and my husband had noticed. We are that weirdo family who make fun of each other for stuff like's how we roll. He actually said he was surprised watching my face read this book. He said he had seen all my emotions go across my face. I couldn't even explain to him why I loved this book so much without sobbing. I think I am either menopausal or going crazy. I'm not a crier. I cried all through this dang book even though it's not entirely sad. The writing did that to me. Jeff Zentner is a musician..who decided that he would write a book. It's hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that THIS book is his first book. I will rabidly pick up anything this guy puts out. He wants to write something on a napkin and throw it in the trash. I will dig in that trash and treasure that dirty napkin. Stop judging me.Everybody just go read this book so that I'll shut up. I'm embarrassing my own damn self.Netgalley in exchange for reviewI love this reviewfor this book so much. She gets this book.

  • Matthew
    2018-08-05 11:13

    Warning: This review will risk some controversy! Just remember if you read it that I approach everything with an open mind and that I know that my opinion does not match everyone’s – meaning I know that we are all different and I would not argue with people on here to prove that my opinion is correct.Overall, I thought this was a great book. It was very easy to read. The story was creative and the characters were interesting. At times, emotions ran high and it hit my feels in all the right places. I think that it is one of the better YA books that I have read recently.Now . . . the controversy! Remember, in my profile I mention that I don’t like to get into arguments over religion. I just think this is very relevant to this book and would not mind an open discussion about it. (Trolls need not apply!)One of the things plaguing the world recently is stereotyping religions. On TV, on the internet, in comments sections, etc. people are made to feel bad because of their religion. Also, the few people who are doing religion wrong or crazy are ruining it for the rest of us! One thing I have seen is Christians depicted as intolerant and judgmental with crazy beliefs that they force on the whole world. As part of their daily activities, they mention God and finding Jesus to everyone they meet and look down severely on anyone who does not agree with them. I am a Christian and none of this describes me. I enjoy the solace that my religion gives me, but I don’t spend time judging others and telling people they are wrong because they are not like me. I believe in science and evolution. I feel like debates to prove whether religion is right or wrong are silly and only serve to perpetuate malice between people who have a difference of opinion. I think those of you who have known me on here for a while know that I read a variety of books, have a variety of friends, and I am kind to all. I get frustrated when I see everything blamed on Christians and worry that if people know I am a Christian they will think that I am part of the problem. But, I am not ashamed of what I am – Christianity should be about love and not hate and I try to live my life every day to make sure that describes me.Okay . . . so the reason that I am ranting . . . this book leans really heavy on the side of Christians being intolerant nutjobs that are not very accepting of those not like them; that they are likely to do strange things in their church, molest children, refuse to let their kids be friends with non-Christians (or not be happy about it if they are), etc. I was hoping that maybe by the end of the book some middle ground would have been reached to show that not all Christianity is like that, but it doesn’t really. It makes me a bit sad because this is a great book that I could see a lot of people reading and I don’t want them to come out of it with that negative viewpoint!Just remember – just like not all Muslims are terrorists, not all Christians are intolerant, hateful jerks!

  • Wendy Darling
    2018-08-18 06:15

    This felt very much like a debut, and unfortunately, none of the characters or story arcs surprised me or touched me nearly as much as they were supposed to. Best to sample this if you're curious, as I think you can tell fairly early on if the writing style suits you.Apparently I'm the black sheep on this one, though. Baaaaa!A review copy was provided by the publisher.A Note to Those Who Think This Book is Amazing: This is one of those books that seems like a magnet for people who loved it to come on and tell everyone else how great it is. Please save yourself and me the time, and just move on or write your own review rather than talking around me or down to me. I'm glad you loved it, and that you have your own space on GoodReads to talk about it to your heart's desire. I deleted the last pointed comment because I've blocked that person after a long history and her long blog rant criticizing this very short, fairly even-tempered reaction to the book as well as the comments, but I will say that I will not be nearly as tolerant going forward. Mind. Your. Own. Space.

  • LolaReviewer
    2018-07-29 06:59

    ‘‘The Serpent King’’ is absolutely captivating.It’s sad but it’s also very inspiring. Jeff Zentner wrote a debut novel here worthy of your shelves, time and attention. It’s original in a way that is realistic. The characters—Dill, Lydia and Travis—have an authentic voice. They are quite different one from the other, yet they are as thick as thieves. Dill is a musician, struggling daily with the effects of the sins of his father, literally. His father whom is now behind bars. Travis’s brother died, which changed his father enormously, so much that he became verbally and physically abusive.And Lydia, well, she has no money problems, no family problems—in fact, she’s got it pretty easy compared to everybody else, but she needs to learn to accept her friends as they are. She isn’t done growing up, either.It’s a poignant coming-of-age novel that is reminiscent of ‘‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower.’’ Unlike the title and perhaps cover may suggest, and unlike I first thought, there is no magical realism. Everything is very much realistic, unfortunately. No matter where you live—New York, Montréal, Budapest, a random small town no one knows of—you cannot escape life, meaning that bad things happen to everyone, all over the world. But you can decide whether to get up or stay down. Blog | Youtube | Twitter | Instagram | Google+ | Bloglovin’

  • Jeff Zentner
    2018-08-15 04:59

    I wrote this book, and I'm giving it five stars--not because I think it's a flawless book. Rather, because in it, I was able to say exactly what I wanted to say, tell the exact story I needed to tell, and because Dill, Lydia, and Travis were born into the world exactly as they came to me in my mind.I'm giving it five stars because it has resulted in my meeting the most amazing people--readers, booksellers, teachers, librarians, bloggers, reviewers, other authors--and making some of the best friends I've ever had.I'm giving it five stars because it allowed me to reach the audience I most wanted to reach: young people.I'm giving it five stars because it changed my life permanently for the better in more ways than I can count.

  • Melissa ♥ Dog Lover ♥ Martin
    2018-07-20 04:56

    THIS. FREAKING. BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!I loved it sooooooooooooooo much. It broke my freaking heart and gave me joy and broke my heart some more. It's just so wonderful! And the feels in this book are beyond what I can say in my pitiful little review. All I know is if you have been meaning to read this book and have been putting if off, READ IT - you just might find it as wonderful as I did. The main characters are, Dill, Travis and Lydia and I love them so much! They are some of the most awesome characters I have read in awhile. Dill is the son of the crazy, snake, preacher man. Travis is a fantasy book fanatic whom you can not help but love. He goes around with his dragon necklace and his staff and is constantly reading his favorite author's books. And Lydia is the one that has the money with a father as a dentist and I think her mom was in real estate. Either way, her parents are wonderful people, the boys parents, not so much. Dill's preacher father ends up in jail for reasons. And Dill's mom doesn't even want Dill to finish his last year of high school or go to college, because of reasons. Travis has a really sweet mom but a jerk for a father. He's a drunk and he's always calling Travis names etc. Lydia runs a very popular blog (<---I wish I did) talking about any and everything. She's going to go to college and make something of herself. The boys, not so much, but they finally came up with their own plan. And poor Dill has a crush on Lydia but don't want to tell her. It all eventually comes out when other things happen. And Lydia made me laugh hysterically many times while reading this book! (thank you, Lydia, I needed that)Dill is also a brilliant singer/songwriter/guitarist. As much as I loved these characters and this book, there were some parts that just ripped my heart out and threw it on the floor. I really have nothing else to say about it without giving out spoilers. I had all of this stuff I wanted to say while reading it and I should have written them all down. I would have like to put my many feels in the book, but then again, I would have had to add spoilers and I don't like to do that unless they are mild. There is nothing much mild to this book. I hope many more people love this book as much as I did and I cried a few times and laughed a few times. The perfect book, okay . . . not so much the crying because I'm tired of crying in books! Fin ♥MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List

  • Cait (Paper Fury)
    2018-08-16 06:02

    THERE ARE NO WORDS TO DESCRIBE HOW FREAKING AMAZING THIS BOOK IS AND HOW MUCH I ADORE IT. Well, wait. I will use words. Psychotic words most likely BUT WORDS because omg I loved this book so much. It is gut-wrenching and precious and inspiring and hopeful and balances darkness and hope using some of the best storytelling I've experienced in a long time. There is not enough FLAILING in the world for how much I want to FLAIL RIGHT NOW.Shout out to this book for existing! Shout out to it for smashing my heart and then being so inspiring I think I need to go eat a planet in celebration.It's basically a story of survival and friendship in a backwards country town. It's narrated by three teens, Dill, Lydia, and Travis and usually I don't like that many POVs. bUt omg. Each person was complex and interesting and loveable and heartbreaking. I love love loved them all. LIKE DON'T EVEN ASK ME TO CHOOSE A FAVOURITE. • DILL: he's the son of a preacher who's just been imprisoned for sexual charges and EVERYBODY knows Dill and is disgusted by him. Tiny town, remember? Country hicks = not very forgiving. His mother hates him, school is hell, he's got NO FUTURE because he's stuck in this town and his best friend Lydia is leaving for college and basically ajfdkaslfda he was tragic and adorable and quiet and nearly broken and I couldn't love him more. He DOES lash out irrationally with passive-aggressive arguments with Lydia. But I get it?!? When you face losing someone, sometimes you push them away first to help dull the pain. BUT IT JUST MADE ME LOVE HIM MORE. Plus he's musical!! Composes!! BLESS THIS BOOK!!• LYDIA: she's a super famous fashion blogger and only 17 #NoImNotJealousHaHaHa. And she's fashionable, super sassy, epically fabulous, definitely not skinny, and has a future of success paved out before her. Plus she has the mOST EPIC PARENT-DAUGHTER RELATIONSHIP EVER. The banter with the parents was so spot on!! Omg!! I love how she as flawed and flawless. Trust me, it works. She was a go-getter, but also a dreamer, and her two best-friends were dorks, which automatically means she's a glorious person. Also sorry not sorry but I 100% imagined her as Lydia from Teen Wolf.• TRAVIS: He was the most adorable dork to ever dork in the universe. He's OBSESSED with fantasy, specifically this trilogy which he can't stop talking about. He's big and kind and unassuming and just downright lovely. Books about lovely boys need to be more of a thing. And he starts writing and just ajfdsakfd I LOVED TRAVIS AND HE WAS SO PRECIOUS AND PERFECT. He had the most horrible dad who abused him and it broke me. 3 He reminded me of Adam from The Raven Boys but no bitterness, just 100% gorgeous personality despite his horrible homelife.HOW ARE THESE CHARACTERS ALL SO PRECIOUS???? I can't get over the fact that they felt so REAL. I didn't want to ever stop reading this book. And this is only the author's debut?? Sign me up to read anything by Jeff Zentner ever.Did I mention the writing?!? Flawless. It was heavily dialogue centred and balanced the most HILARIOUS humour ever with purely poignant scenes with words I never want to stop thinking about. But seriously, I laughed out loud several times. HONKED, ACTUALLY. And my dog looked displeased. And any story about three best friends making the best out of bad situations is the kind of story I'm infinitely in love with. It described everything SO WELL. And the contrast?!? Like Lydia's rich family as opposed to Travis' cruel father as opposed to Dill's dying house of poison??? I CAN'T GET OVER HOW VISUALLY AMAZING IT WAS. And heartbreaking. Like, dude. Break my heart. Walk all over it. I don't even mind obviously.There are religious tones in it too, which concerned me at first....but turned out okay. Like I just avoid religious books avidly. And I don't even know WHAT kind of "Christian" believes in handling snakes and drinking poison but...okay then. But like it didn't slam religion?? It slammed religion that damages people and it laid out how wrong it is to ruin people's lives because of your "religious beliefs". But I just really like how it was all handled. And Dill's father was totally insane. Just sayin'. Please don't touch snakes, kids. DO NOT.Also it really tackles mental illness and it does so flawlessly. Like depression? This is the kind of book that gets depression 100% right. (view spoiler)[I also felt my entire soul lurch when Dill was contemplating suicide after Travis' death. It was so well done and it turned out so freaking hopeful I just...I love this book so much. I'm so glad he didn't jump and he decided to have a better life. Dill is so precious. (hide spoiler)]AND IT BROKE ME INTO A MILLION PIECES. As all the good books do, obviously. But seriously, one minute I was laughing and the next I HAD NO AIR.ALL IN ALL: this books is incredible and everyone everywhere should read it. Immediately. Like gooooooo. This is one of the BEST BOOKS I'VE READ THIS YEAR. I'm not crying, you're crying. It totally stole a piece of my soul and I'm totally okay with that. It was brutal and hopeful which is a combination I want to see more in books. The writing = perfect. The characters = my new best friends. My heart = A MESS.I LIKE THIS BOOK A LOT, CAN YOU TELL.----- QUOTES ------Lydia set down her phone and began typing a post about the road trip to Nashville, shopping at Attic, and some thoughts on the first day of school. She got stuck and began looking for ways to procrastinate.#HellaRelatable"And anyway, how is a coffee shop Christian?""It implies that normal coffee shops are satanic.""Which they totally are. It's like, can I please just get a cup of coffee without having to kneel before Lucifer and pledge my eternal soul?""Here's your latte. Will that be cash, credit, or the blood of a virgin?""I had no idea those books meant that much to you, Travis," Lydia murmured. "Now I feel bad about making all those Bloodfall jokes.""Does this mean you'll read them?""No.""I mean, it's not like she doesn't like anything. It just has to be Christian. Really Christian," Dill said."Like the Bible barely makes the cut because Christ is only in the second half," Lydia said.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Kelly (and the Book Boar)
    2018-07-31 09:19

    Find all of my reviews at:“If you’re going to live, you might as well do painful, brave, and beautiful things.”A week or so ago I claimed that it would be hard to top Dark Matter as my best read of 2016. Turns out I lied. It wasn’t that hard at all. Once again Shelby (or more specifically, her NetGalley addiction) gets the credit for putting this one on my radar. She’s a horrible old bitty like me and rarely gives out the 5 Stars so when she raved about The Serpent King (well, in all honesty it was when she posted a non giff-i-fied review) I knew I should take her seriously. I think she has emotions a little more often than I do, though, so I was positive my robot heart could make it through The Serpent King unscathed. After all . . . . But then I met Dill, a boy whose daddy was famous for being a snake-handling/strychnine drinking preacher, but has most recently become famous for activities most of us only see on Dateline. It was impossible not to immediately want to tuck Dill into a special corner of my heart . . . “No Jesus, no peace. Know Jesus, know peace. What if you know Jesus but have no peace?”Dill introduced me to Lydia – a girl who marched to the beat of her own drum and somehow managed to be best friends with Dill although she didn’t quite share his love for the Lord . . . “Do you think that’s what Jesus really meant? Maybe he was like, ‘and theoretically, you could probably pick up snakes,’ and Mark’s over there writing and he’s like, ‘You should literally pick up snakes. Cool, Jesus, got it!’ And Jesus is going, ‘Well, calm down with the snake business. Don’t be weird; just be a decent person. It’s really more of a metaphor.’ And Mark is writing, ‘Definitely pick up actual literal snakes and drink actual real poison like rotten grape juice or other Bible-y poison.’”(It probably goes without saying that Lydia was my people.)Then the two kids introduced me to the final member of their trifecta – a boy named Travis who found what he believed in through a different sort of good book . . . I can’t remember the last time a book affected me this much or when I read a YA story with multiple narrators who had such distinct voices and personalities. I have placed The Serpent King on the “like-this-or-we-can’t-be-friends” shelf. Normally that title is just for grins, but there’s a good chance if you hate this one I will experience a severe case of the butthurt and not be able to speak to you anymore. (Have no fears, Ron 2.0, you get a pass for not liking anything that I do and all that jazz.) Everyone read this. It feeds my dark side to watch you all cry the ugly tears of a Kardashian, especially if I know you will be like me and look “like your heart stepped on a Lego” once you are finished. As for me, I’ll be uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh busy for awhile . . . ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley!

  • Annet
    2018-08-07 09:52

    And if you're going to live, you might as well do painful, brave and beautiful things... Great book, heartbreaker & feelgood... review to follow. First, to work!....Home from work! But tired...I'm not as young as the main character youngsters in this book :-) I'll tell this: the book was wonderful until about 60%, then I lost a bit of interest, and it picked up again in the end. Four stars! Story of three young friends final year in college, going to university and knowing they will go their different ways.... an extraordinary combination... Dill, son of imprisoned Pastor Dillard Early Sr., in prison because of child porn.... handler of snakes in his church. Dill is a troubled kid due to this weird situation. Lydia, a mind of her own, successful blogger and fashionista, parents who are well off and love her, who give her space to live her life the way she wants it, and Travis, a big guy with passion for fantasy books & games, abused by his drunk father.... Dill, Lydia and Travis are true friends. The story is really beautiful, leading up to a tragic event about midway in the story.I have to say, after that the story gets a bit mushy, a bit lovey dovey, without giving away too much details. Now that bored me a bit after a while, so the glimmering 4.5>5 stars went back to let's say 3.8 for me. The ending: strong. All in all, an emotional, well written story, grabs you by the heart and yes, ... I cried, lying in my bed reading.... had to stop at one point.So, I've said it before and will say it again, a book that makes me cry must be a good book (unless it is from sheer frustration of course :-)). 4 stars& recommended. My first 'ponderings' about this book... Special.Dill's lyrics:Moonlight. Calm after thunderstorm.Scarecrows. Dusty bibles. Abandoned houses.Fireflies. Sunlight through dust. Fallen leaves. Churchyard cemetery. Gray autumn sky. River levee. Gravel Road. Wind chimes. Wood smoke. Train whistle on winter night.Kudzu on telephone pole. Hymnal falling apart. White crosses by highway. Cicada hum.Shadows. Sparrows. Rust. Railroad crossinglights through fog. Crickets. Dance of leaves in wind. Decaying barn. Field after harvest. Clouds covering moon. Quiet dusk. Lightning. Heartbeats.

  • Lori
    2018-07-25 05:00

    Another great coming of age story!Warning contents may contain spoilers!The religious beliefs are part of the background. I didn't get the impression that the author was anti-Christian, nor even especially opposed to snake handling as an expression of faith. There are communities where it is a demonstration of belief. Dill's life is in one. In a lot of ways, it’s the least of his problems. His father is Pastor Early.It had thoroughly scandalized Forestville, Tennessee when Pastor Early of the Church of Christ’s Disciples with Signs of Belief went to the state penitentiary—and not for the reasons anyone expected. Everyone assumed he’d get in trouble someday for the twenty-seven or so rattlesnakes and copperheads his congregants passed around each Sunday. No one knew with certainty what law they were breaking, but it seemed unlawful somehow. And the Tennessee Department of Wildlife did take custody of the snakes after his arrest. Or people thought perhaps he’d run afoul of the law by inducing his flock to drink diluted battery acid and strychnine; another favored worship activity. But no, he went to Riverbend Prison for a different sort of poison: possession of more than one hundred images depicting a minor engaged in sexual activity. A lot of the small-town rumor and speculation aimed at Dill. Guilt by association. Some people assume that he lied in court to protect himself. A man of God would never do something so wrong. Dill’s mother would prefer to believe that it was his porn. Both of his parents blame Dill for his father’s imprisonment. A minor would not have been prosecuted. If Dill had claimed the porn, then his father would not be in prison, and they wouldn’t be in debt. His father rationalizes his imprisonment as being part of God’s plan. I’m here because the Lord wanted me to minister to other inmates. Their emotional blackmail on this kid is relentless.While it’s wrapped in scripture, I just thought that they’re selfish and self-serving. Your child’s best interest should come before your own. Expecting him to lie and perjure himself to protect his father’s sin and crime is not an aspect of Christ mission fulfilled on earth. Ministry to the imprisoned is one of the Corporal Works of Mercy that Christians perform. I understand that the prison is distant, but that’s why church groups organize bus trips for community outreach.On the bright side, Dill has a couple of friends. Travis’ story broke my heart. And, I liked Lydia and her parents. She’s not completely likable, but a plausible enough character.

  • Ɗắɳ2.☊
    2018-08-06 10:50

    Some reviews—a pitiful few—seem to write themselves, while others require extensive time to collect my thoughts, or a knock-down drag-out battle with procrastination. But once in a blue moon, I stumble across a story like this one that’s another animal altogether. After finishing this book, rather than posting a timely review like a decent little goodreader, I instead teased out an absurd question, “Do I dare slap five stars on a silly little young adult story?” Well . . . now that my emotional scars have had sufficient time to heal, I think I’m finally ready to answer that question. Absolutely! Any book that can put me through the wringer—twist me inside out—and run through the whole gamut of human emotions is well deserving of all the stars. The Serpent King is the story of three friends—three social outcast—and their senior year of high school in the sleepy little backwater town of Forrestville, Tennessee. Travis is a Hodor sized Lord of the Rings type uber-nerd, fond of dressing like a wizard and carrying an oaken staff. Lydia is a straight-A student with a popular fashion blog, who’s counting down the days until her real life can beginning at NYU. But it’s Dill who’s the heart and soul of the book. A fledgling musician caught between a rock and a hard place—living in two worlds, but a part of neither. On one side is his father’s congregation, and on the other is the rest of the town that looks down their nose at their weird snake-handling faith. As the pastor’s son, it would have been a challenge to fit into high school as it was, but to make matters worse his father’s sent off to prison for peddling in kiddie porn, and it was his Dill’s own testimony that was responsible for putting him away. Reviled by the flock for refusing to take the blame, when his father insisted that the computer photos were Dill’s, and shunned by the community for his faith and family, Dill’s only solace is the love and support of his best friends.“He squinted to read the sign out of habit. ‘No Jesus, No Peace. Know Jesus, Know Peace.’ What if you know Jesus but have no peace? Does that mean the sign is wrong, or does that mean you don’t know Jesus quite as well as you think?”Through a multiple point of view narrative we soon learn what remarkable friends they are, and the greater the outside pressure, teasing, and bullying—from classmates and parents—the stronger the bond becomes. Dill’s resigned to his fate though, completely closed off to the idea of ever escaping this awful place. With his dad in prison and his mom barely scraping by, it’s up to Dill to pick up the slack, so his chance at college and creating a better life for himself is virtually nil. However, with the clock ticking down to the day when Lydia will walk out of his life forever, a tragedy strikes that shakes him to the very foundation of his being . . .This book was an emotional roller-coaster. It wasn’t the tragedy so much as the fallout that left such a lasting impression on me. “Something broke loose inside Dill’s mind. Something that had been moored against the roaring tumult. It came untethered and crashed around with reckless abandon—burning, shattering, consuming. He stopped seeing color and all became a swirling, howling, leaden gray desolation. But the pain hadn’t arrived. The way the sea recedes before a tsunami, so every part of him receded. And then the pain struck.” Watching as the characters attempt to cope in the aftermath is what separated the story from countless other young adult dramas, in my mind, and elevated the narrative into something truly special. What’s weird is that I tend to shy away from the young adult section of the library because most stories are riddled with one or more of the following: teen-angst, clichéd narratives, sparkly vampire love triangles, special snowflakes, dystopian savior complexes, or suicide glorification. Honestly, what self-respecting middle-aged man still reads that shit? However, I am a sucker for coming of age tales, and this one managed to snare me in its web rather quickly, with pitch-perfect dialog, discussions of music and mixtapes, and down-to-earth, relatable characters. In the end, I suppose that’s what it boils down with most stories: much of your love or hate is predetermined by how well you connect with the characters on an emotional level. And this one left me feeling like my “heart had stepped on a Lego.”That’s the power of a coming of age story when done right. And this terrific tale of love, loss, and friendship receives my highest recommendation. Five stars . . . full stop.

  • Larry H
    2018-08-04 03:04

    Life is pretty tough for Dill Early. It wasn't always easy growing up as the son of a controversial Pentecostal minister who, along with members of his congregation, handled rattlesnakes and drank poison. But when his father runs afoul of the law and winds up in prison, life gets even harder for Dill. He must deal with the constant bullying of his high school classmates and the suspicion and cruel treatment of former church members and others in his small town of Forrestville, Tennessee.The future looks bleak for Dill—he cannot even begin to consider college because he has to help his mother survive financially, given the mountain of debt they live with since his father's legal troubles occurred. But fortunately, his two best friends, Lydia and Travis—outcasts in their own right—are there to attempt to cheer him up and support him. Lydia, the creator of a fashion and culture blog, can't wait to get out of Forrestville and start a new life, hopefully as a student at NYU. Travis would rather spend time reading and re-reading his favorite series of fantasy books then focus on his own problems, which he has largely kept a secret from his friends.As the end of their senior year in high school draws closer and closer, and Lydia gets more excited about leaving their town behind her, Dill gets more and more upset. He feels as if she'll be happy not only to get out of town, but to get rid of him and Travis, and that hurts him more and more, especially as Dill comes to realize just how strong his feelings are for her. Lydia tries to encourage Dill to think beyond the limits he and his mother have put on his future, tries to make him believe that college is an option. But Dill views her attempts to help as wanting to change him. And as events in their lives go from bad to worse, he's afraid to make himself even more vulnerable, and he doesn't want to jeopardize their relationship."Because we should do things we're afraid of. It makes it easier every time we do it."The Serpent King is a beautiful and moving book, at times bleak and at times hopeful. It absolutely captured my heart and my mind. I loved these characters and their interactions with each other. These characters may be somewhat wise beyond their years but they act like real teenagers—you don't marvel at their dialogue at the same time you wonder whether teenagers really talk this way. I was utterly invested in this story from the very first page, and as much as I wanted to read the whole thing so quickly, I was really sad that it was over when I was finished.This is a book about how we can't let our lives be dictated by our families or our heritage, and we can't let those around us limit our potential. But more than anything, this is a book about friendship and how it frees and changes us, and how we must find the courage to act on our desires and wishes before it's too late."And if you're going to live, you might as well do painful, brave, and beautiful things."Jeff Zentner is such an assured writer; it's amazing to think this is his debut novel. I really loved this, and once again, I marvel at the amazing talent being demonstrated in the YA genre these days, although this isn't a book just for young adults by any means. See all of my reviews at http://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blo....

  • Giselle (Book Nerd Canada)
    2018-08-06 07:19

    A finished copy was provided by the publisher for review.Told in the point of views of three characters Dill, Travis and Lydia, we have a story that is memorable, deep and tragic. Dill has a reputation trashed by his father. Travis has an obsession with a book series that is similar to "Game of Thrones" and Lydia is the smart sassy fashion blogger who wants nothing but to head out to college and leave the small Tennessee town behind. I can't even begin to write this review because I'm all choked up with emotions. I am so glad I'm not the black sheep.. So I have this thing where I don't actually read what the descriptions are about (sometimes) and I did that with this book. I initially thought this would be some sort of rain forest fantasy adventure based on the cover. Granted I didn't see the silhouette of the kids on the bridge until later, so imagine to my surprise when I started reading it was a contemporary! Then I was hooked from the beginning. This rarely happens to me with realistic fiction so I pretty much gobbled it up in two sittings. It's a little about religion, a lot about friendship, family and love. Definitely a coming-of-age story that will keep you glued to its pages. I know I was.The book contains: some disgusting Un-Christian-like behaviour. I couldn't help but cringe at times. There is swearing and even Homophobic slurs.. You will also have some of the most horrible parents as well as some of the best found in the book. Oh and I have to mention Lydia's present to Travis? Probably every book nerd's dream! I cried out of happiness when that part happened.I can't sing enough praises. LOVED this book to pieces. Jeff Zentner made these characters so real to me. Made me care about each and every one of them. Cried twice (at two certain parts) and couldn't stop remembering all the emotions I felt while reading this. Highly recommended! One of my favourite and memorable reads of the year! Run and pick up your copy, I really hope you loved it as much as I did!RATING 5/5QUOTES"You ask for plenty without ever actually asking for it." (3)"Times are simpler when no one hates you because of your name and it doesn't occur to you to be ashamed of it." (64)"Folks is afraid of grief. Think it's catching, like a disease." (71)"You hate yourself for not being as brave as the people you love to read about. And you just want to be somewhere where no one makes you feel that way." (104)"You don't need options in life. You need Jesus." (142)"Because we should do things we're afraid of. It makes it easier every time we do it." (191)"We need to take care of each other from now on. We need to be each other's family because ours are so messed up. We need to make better lives for ourselves. We gotta start doing stuff we're afraid to do." (233)"I want you to be careful in this world. My heart is wrapped up in you." (270)"I've made books my life because they let me escape this world of cruelty and savagery." (277)"You won't be living in a shitty small town anymore, where people try to make themselves feel better by making other people feel smaller." (314)

  • Adam Silvera
    2018-08-01 05:57

    This book will punch you in the heart. In a good way. A punch to the heart isn't usually a good idea, but it is here. THE SERPENT KING is a literary knockout pulsing with faith, tragedy, and hope.

  • Trina (Between Chapters)
    2018-08-05 04:03

    Edited to add: I've since let my friends spoil me on what happened in the end of this book and it makes me so glad that I DNFed it. I was about 7 pages away from the meat of the plot being introduced. I definitely stand by my original opinion that this book was terribly plotted if I had no clue what the book was about when I quit, over halfway through. The stereotypes and lack of depth present make me feel confident in rating this 1 star. You may find quality here, but I personally didn't.Additionally, I have seen some disrespectful public behavior toward reviewers by this author and have had an unpleasant interaction with him in the time since I read this book. (I originally said to be wary of posting negative reviews, but don't let any author scare you away from expressing your opinion!)_________________Original review: (Read in March 2016)DNF at page 190.It should maybe be noted that I was born and raised in Nashville and this book being set so close to home probably meant I judged the setting harsher than anyone else would. I know that the author lives here but I felt some local references were done weirdly, and I hated that this book perpetuated negative stereotypes about the South.I hated the main character Lydia. She treats her friends like crap and constantly talks down to them even internally and when Dill confronts her about feeling hurt she tells him he has to get over it while she should be allowed to carry on her merry way of ignoring them. I understand this may have been to show her growth in the end, but I was so frustrated with her in the present that her character was a large part of why I ultimately DNFed.I did not know the full book summary before going in and when the crush is revealed (on page 170, btw, way too late in my opinion!) I was actually shocked by it because I hadn't seen any evidence of this attraction AT ALL in the first half of the book. This felt forced. Then Lydia suddenly develops feelings for Dill in return after seeing a video of him playing guitar. Really? That quickly?I realized I just didn't care if they ended up together or didn't. If they got out of the small town or stayed. If they all remained friends or not. So I stopped reading.Travis was the saving grace of this book. I loved that guy.

  • Zoeytron
    2018-07-20 07:03

    Every school has them, kids that don't readily fit in with everyone else. In The Serpent King, we have three teens in their final year of high school, Travis, Dill, and Lydia, who have become fast friends, drawn together by their otherness. They are the irregular weaves, used to being the butt of jokes and providing target practice for bullies, the proverbial square pegs who are never going to fit into the round holes that house their classmates so well.Dill's mother is a bible-thumping nightmare. Not only does she blame her son for his father's incarceration in prison, she stubbornly believes Jesus' plan for Dill is for him to drop out of high school so he can work full-time rather than part-time to bring more money into the household. I wanted to tear right through the pages and throttle her more than once. I am not a mother, but common sense would tell a person this is wrong, wrong, and oh, so wrong. She's horrible. This is YA that doesn't read like YA. Hopelessly out of the loop where teenagers are concerned, I do not know if their dialog is on the money or not, and I do not care. The story was stellar, touching on depression, hope, and a determined thirst for independence. This one may hurt your heart before all is said and done, but it was well worth the read.

  • Councillor
    2018-07-23 04:10

    When I opened this book, I expected a lot of things, but never would I have thought that it was going to receive a place among my absolute favorite books, with the definite guarantee of rereading this one day (maybe I should mention here that I hardly ever reread a book).The Serpent King is Jeff Zentner's debut novel, and what a novel it is. He has been a guitarist and songwriter, having released five albums before focusing his attention on writing novels for young adults. But this novel doesn't feel like a debut novel. The writing? Yes, that's something Jeff Zentner can still improve even though it is already pretty good. But the character development in this novel was close to perfection, as much as I hate to use the word "perfect" in any context, because whatever is perfect for you, might just as well be imperfect for others. For me, The Serpent King was perfect.“So when I watch trains, it makes me think about how much movement there is in the world. How every train has dozens of cars and every car has hundreds of parts, and all those parts and cars work day after day. And then there are all these other motions. People are born and die. Seasons change. Rivers flow to the sea. Earth circles the sun and the moon circles Earth. Everything whirring and spinning toward something. And I get to be part of it for a little while, the way I get to watch a train for a minute or two, and then it's gone.”This book introduces three young adults coming of age in a gripping tale set in a rural small town in Forrestville, Tennessee. Dillard Early, Jr., a talented musician, is the son of almost fanatically religious parents, his father being a former pastor and now a convicted criminal. His mother blames him for the imprisonment of his father, and sharing the same name with his father and grandfather, both having earned a negative reputation in their town, doesn't improve matters for Dill. Lydia Blankenship feels as if she was born into the wrong hometown; because as much as she loves her parents (and is loved in return), she never felt welcome in Forrestville and rather seeks to discover huge, adventurous metropolises like New York City. Running a famous fashion blog with thousands of followers, Lydia finds comfort in the support of virtual friends. Travis Bohannon is a gentle and caring guy who doesn't exactly have the perfect body weight and who is obsessed with an epic fantasy series called Bloodfall, which Jeff Zentner manages to characterize so well that it almost feels like a series one would like to read too. Travis struggles with finding a place in his family, especially as his abusive father has turned into a notorious drunkard after Travis' older brother's death.Those three teenagers couldn't be more different from each other, yet they develop a friendship which is closer than one could imagine. Those three different voices alternate with one another in changing POV chapters, always allowing for some refreshing viewpoints to be explored. In this novel, Jeff Zentner very much relies not on usual plot elements, but rather on developing the three major characters and letting them decide how the plot is going to continue. For most parts of the story, the reader gets to spend time with those characters and grow attached to them, yet even when Zentner chooses to revert to plot twists, it feels natural in a way which brings the story forward.We have a fantasy fanboy, a social media celebrity and a criminal's son caught between tradition and the modern world - a motif which continues to be visible throughout the entire novel. Religion and music are explored in very surprising ways, just as the contrast between small-town life and urban pace plays heavily into the story. And let's not forget one very important aspect: Most Contemporary YA novels try to establish their hero(in)es as conflicted and real, I accept and respect that, but a lot of those characters sound roughly the same. Not so much with Dill, Lydia and Travis. I find myself unable to compare their voices to any other character in any other YA novel I have read so far, which only adds to my personal feeling that Jeff Zentner managed to create an extraordinary novel with extraordinary characters. In the beginning of the novel, Dill, Lydia and Travis were just some random teenagers yet another author attempted to write a story about, but in the end, those three people have turned into good friends. Of course they are fictional characters, but sometimes you just wish those fictional characters could be made of flesh and blood and living in your own hometown."What’s funny is that I never set out to write a YA novel. What I really wanted to do was to write for young adults. And it happens that the best way to do that is by writing a YA novel. So that’s what I did. I think that’s such an amazing period of life, where you’re basically as intelligent as an adult, but the world and experience haven’t lost their newness. I remember the immediacy of feeling and wonder that accompanied those years of my life. There’s a magic there. I also love the way that young adults experience art and cling to the pieces of art that they love. I wanted to create something that would (hopefully) be loved and clung to."- Jeff Zentner, quoted from his FAQ on his author's website.I would happily give this book ten stars if only Goodreads allowed me to. And finally, I want to thank Shelby for pointing this one out to me in the first place.

  • maymay ☕
    2018-08-07 08:52

    Full review posted:I have no idea how I’m going to convey all the feelings this book gave me into coherent words…do I really have to?? Times are simpler when no one hates you because of your name and it doesn’t occur to you to be ashamed of it. This book tells the story of our three characters: 1) An internet famous fashion icon who is unapologetically herself2) A tragic boy shackled in his father’s shadow3) A burly lumberjack of a boy who is made from marshmallow and sprinkles and deserves everything beautiful and happy This is not a fun book, this book is more likely to split you in half than to make you smile (though it definitely has its funny moments) - Our three main characters live in a very…fundamentally religious town that is harsh and unforgiving to those who need it most- It’s such a great story of friendship and hope and acceptance and it plunges that knife deep, deep down into your being - Ft. Wholesome friendships Dill angled one of the vents toward his face. “You ever think about how weird it is that Earth is hurtling through the black vacuum of space, where it’s like a thousand below zero, and meanwhile we’re down here sweating?”“I often think about how weird it is that Earth is hurtling through the black vacuum of space and meanwhile you’re down here being a total weirdo.” - Basically all the kids in the book have some sort of form of daddy issues (mainly bc their dads are THE BIGGEST JERKS TO EXIST ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH) and so I have taken it upon myself to adopt them that includes lydia, even tho her parents are pretty cool - All three characters are the most precious little beans you’ve ever witnessed and after reading 13 words from the book, you’re going to be warming up some hot milk and gathering bubble wrap to encapsulate them in - There’s no incandescent beauties in this book. And I LOVED that. It’s so real, they’re so real, theyre love for each other is so real, you can genuine feel how lost and broken they are without each other and that’s just…something special man - Now the writing is fantastic. It is heartfelt and dismal and so so so raw. - The dynamics of the town, the tightness that the characters feel is expressed so perfectly, idk how this is possible to do- It’s not all sadness either. Like the characters themselves are really funny (when they aren’t being tragic and smol)- AND THEN- *IT* HAPPENS- AND YOU FEEL YOUR HEART BEING TORN OUT OF YOUR BODY- :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)- I can’t say anything beyond I cried until I got a headache and then even when the sadness was over and the happiness was sorta there, I cried even more bc wow I’m an emotional wreck thanks @ author- youre an evil man- There’s so many parts of this book I cannot even begin to explain all the intricacies it covers but just like, read it if you haven’t already okay. "I had no idea those books meant that much to you, Travis," Lydia murmured. "Now I feel bad about making all those Bloodfall jokes.""Does this mean you'll read them?""No."4.5 stars!!

  • Laurie Flynn
    2018-07-23 09:58

    My bordering-on-rabid desire to read this book has been well documented. To the point where every time I saw it praised on social media, I became ever-so-slightly bitter that I hadn’t yet read it. So when I attended the ALA conference last weekend and saw ARCs, I grabbed one right away. I also squealed in a decidedly unprofessional manner (there were witnesses). I started reading on the plane home because I couldn’t wait any longer. I had heard the writing was powerful, original, masterful. It is. I had heard that I would fall in love with the characters. I did. I had heard that my heart would get broken. It did. Told from three perspectives—Dill, Lydia, and Travis—THE SERPENT KING is the story about three misfit friends who are more like family and their senior year of high school. Jeff Zentner perfectly encapsulates the shaken-up cocktail of emotions that comes with leaving behind what you know. The excitement, the fear, the jealousy, the regret. Dill feels trapped in his life in Forrestville, Tennessee, because of his father’s name and his obligations to support his mother financially. Being in his head is both sad and hopeful at once. Dill is incredibly intelligent and loyal, but keeps getting told he can’t do things, and part of him is suffocating under the guilt his family burdens him with. I wanted so badly for Dill to recognize his full potential. Lydia is the story of a very different upbringing, one with supportive and loving parents. She has a successful fashion blog. Her future is bright and she’s determined to make a new life in New York. Travis lives between the pages of his favorite fantasy series, Bloodfall, tries to avoid his dad’s drunken temper, and thinks he’s intent to stay where he is—until a special encounter awakens faith in himself he never knew he had. This story is about all kinds of faith. The religious kind, yes, but also the other kind. Faith in your friends. Faith in your own capabilities. Faith in the unknown. I fell in love with these characters very quickly in the story. I wanted the best for them. This meant the stakes were high for me. I hoped when they hoped. I hurt when they hurt. And when the unexpected happened, I sobbed uncontrollably. That kind of attachment is rare for me with a book—feelings so strong that I had to close the book and actively remind myself that I’m reading fiction because it hurt too much otherwise. That’s quite unusual for me. I pride myself on being a hard rock to crack as a reader. I rarely cry. But THE SERPENT KING made something burst inside me and opened floodgates I didn’t even know were there. The fact that I cared that much about these characters is a testament to Jeff Zentner’s brilliant skills as an author. This book is going to mean something different to everyone. To me, it means all-encompassing friendship, the kind that can’t be broken no matter how circumstances change. It means love and loyalty and defiance and breaking comfort zones and crushing through the mold of who you think you are to become the person you want to be. It means bravery. Dill, Lydia, and Travis embody courage for me. They inspire me. Bravery comes in different shapes and sizes. It’s big and small. The bravery these characters display is nothing short of astounding. THE SERPENT KING is one of the best books I’ve ever read, period. Yes, it broke my heart. But the undercurrent of hope is so strong that you can’t help but feel buoyed by it. Yes, I cried. But they were sad tears and happy tears. And any book that can make you feel not just something but everything, to me, is nothing short of spectacular.

  • Jenny
    2018-07-26 07:04

    People are born and die. Seasons change. Rivers flow to the sea. Earth circles the sun and the moon circles Earth. Everything whirring and spinning toward something. And I get to be part of it for a little while, the way I get to watch a train for a minute or two, and then it's gone.”I can't remember the last time a book had left such a strong impression on me. This is, no doubt, one of the best books I've read this year, and I will also go as far as to say that this has become my all time favorite book. Jeff Zentner's debut novel, The Serpent King, deserves all the praises and hype it has been receiving. This story, its writing, is so powerful that from the very first page, it makes you feel like you are there, witnessing everything happening to the main characters, crying and laughing with them, getting your heart broken (if I might add, a lot of times), and then leaving you at the end with a smile on your face. The Serpent King is a captivating tale of three friends, who are different from each other in every way possible, but still manages to form a strong and beautiful friendship. The story is being told from each character's perspective, and each one of them taking this story forward with their own. It is also connected to characters' past, which I believe is the main focus of the story as it has huge impact on their lives, but I also like how much character driven the story is. There is a lot of character development throughout the book, and that is what I loved the most while reading it. Dilliard Early comes from a very religious family. His father is in jail, which her mother things that he is responsible for it. He is a grandson of the Serpent King, for which he gets bullied in class and has to endure hateful glares and comments from the people of that town. Lydia is a very ambitious girl. She is very popular on internet through her fashion blog, and she has always wanted to leave her town to go achieve her dreams. “How is it every time we're talking about the real world, you manage to bring up fantasy, and every time we're talking about fantasy, you manage to bring up the real world?Travis shrugged. "My fantasies are more interesting than the real world and machines and tools are more interesting than you guys' fantasies.”Travis is the most quite person of the group and is always lost in his fantasy books. He is usually quite, mostly because his friends never gets the things he does or the books he read. I had gotten attached to all the characters, but the chapters of Travis, especially with his dad, always made me sad. I just love how brave he is and more than that, I just adore him.It's incredible how the lives of these three characters intertwines and they end up being such close friends. I always love books on friendships, and even though this book has a lot many more important things in it, I just love it for its simplicity and for focusing enough on their friendship to make me fall in love with each of them.I love how the book is written. It's engrossing and is a kind of book which you'll just want to keep on reading. And how could I not like it? There there were so many beautiful quotes that I wanted to highlight each one of them. Just read this:“If you're going to live, you might as well do painful, brave, and beautiful things.” “That wouldn't be a bad way to off light for millions of years after you're gone.” “We live in a series of moments and seasons and sense memories, strung end to end to form a sort of story.” I loved this book and would recommend it to everyone. If you like character driven stories, or even if you are looking for a good and memorable story, then this is your book. Just go read this book guys!Review on my blog-World of A Bibliophile

  • Sh3lly ☽ Guardian of Beautiful Squids and Lonely Moons ☽
    2018-08-07 08:53

    This is a coming of age story that alternates POV between a small group of friends: Dill, who comes from one of those crazy snake churches, Travis, who is obsessed with a fantasy series and carries a staff around, and Lydia, who comes from one of the wealthier families in the area and writes a popular blog.They live in a small, mostly poor Southern town and are seniors, and trying to figure out what's going to come after high school. This had a "Southern Gothic" vibe to it, which means it was depressing and some bad things happen. It's not a happy story, but it is a hopeful one.The writing is fantastic and the characters really jumped off the page. I especially loved Travis, the kind gentle giant. And maybe that's why I'm giving this 3 stars instead of higher. BIG SPOILER DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN'T READ (view spoiler)[I just couldn't handle him being killed off. It bothered me too much. I knew something big was going to happen, but I wasn't expecting that. I was thinking Travis's dad or Dill's mom or dad was going to die, but not that. (hide spoiler)]This was a tough book to read at times. Some of the parents were so abusive. I wanted them to die. For about half the book, I also did not like Lydia, but then she turns out to be quite lovely. She evolves and isn't just trying to be the overly cool and sophisticated person. The first half of the book, I just rolled my eyes at most of her POVs, but I think maybe that was the intent? She definitely becomes more thoughtful and considerate by the end.It does end on a hopeful note. But overall, even though I did enjoy this, I think it was a little too bleak and depressing for me.

  • abby
    2018-08-04 09:10

    "And if you're going to live, you might as well do painful, brave, and beautiful things."Dill can't seem to escape the sins of his father and grandfather. He even shares their name. His father was a Pentecostal minister who encouraged his congregation to handle rattlesnakes and drink poison to demonstrate their true faith-- until he went to jail for child pornography. His grandfather was the legendary Serpent King, who became obsessed with the reptiles after one bit and killed his beloved daughter. In small-town Tennessee, where rumors and innuendo linger like ghosts, Dill is ostracized and bullied because of his family. He has two friends, similarly outcasts: Lydia, a fashion blogger, and Travis, who lives and breathes for his favorite fantasy book series. It's their senior year, and Lydia is on the verge of fleeing their two bit town for the bright lights at NYU. Not only does Dill not want to lose Lydia, but he has no idea where his own life is headed. He can't imagine much of a future beyond working at the local grocery store to help pay off his parents' debts and continuing to be a local pariah. But, encouraged by Lydia, Dill has aspirations for college and studying music, and he becomes conflicted between the life his parents want for him, and the one he wants for himself.This is the best YA book I've read this year. Not that it reinvents the wheel or anything, but it's just so well done. The three main characters-- Dill, Lydia, Travis-- are realistic and likable. Author Jeff Zentner is able to balance his characters in places less writers would fall-- Lydia could have easily been the next manic pixie dream girl, Dill's mother could have been a two-dimensional villain. The writing is quality. And I bawled like a baby near the end.

  • Maria (Big City Bookworm)
    2018-07-23 09:13

    4.5 Stars"I read somewhere that a lot of the stars we see don't exist anymore. They've already died and it's taken millions of years for their light to reach Earth," Dill said. "That wouldn't be a bad way to die," Lydia said. "Giving off light for millions of years after you're gone."The Serpent King is one of those books that just came out of nowhere. I had heard nothing about it prior to its release, but the second it came out, everyone started talking about it. Whether it was fellow book blogger friends or other authors, I kept seeing The Serpent King everywhere I turned. After reading it, I can totally understand why.He thought the most alive he could feel was in the moment after he'd done something incredibly brave. Turned out, he also felt pretty damn alive in the moment just before.The Serpent King is a beautiful coming of age story told from the point of view of three high school seniors. Dill is quiet and moody and has to deal with the troubling past of his family name. Lydia is the founder of a popular fashion blog, although the fame brought on by it does not help her whatsoever when it comes to the high school food chain. Travis is a gentle giant. Coming from a troubled home, he is quiet and keeps to himself by constantly reading his favourite epic book series.He had his normal faraway affect and distinct air of melancholy.I am so happy that I went into The Serpent King without knowing too much about it. It was quick and super fast paced and I had a lot of trouble putting it down. I can’t remember the last time I breezed through a book this quickly. I was in a bit of a reading slump before I started reading The Serpent King and I would say that this novel helped me break out of that slump.The characters were all very relatable and they all felt very real. Of course, there were flaws with these characters and their personalities. Dill was easy to take things too personally. He was very sensitive that way, which begins to make more and more sense as the story carries on. Lydia was very controlling. She is definitely one of those people that needs to have things go her way. She did have everyone’s best interest at heart though and only wanted her friends to be happy. Although these characters weren’t perfect, it was characteristics like these that made them feel more realistic and relatable."I've made books my life because they let me escape this world of cruelty and savagery."There were moments within the novel that felt a little bit repetitive, specifically in terms of Dill and his insecurities. It felt as though he and Lydia had the same conversation a few times with no real change to the dialogue. I noticed this happening until the moments when Dill slowly starts to come out of his shell. Other than this little minor hiccup, I absolutely loved Jeff Zentners writing style and the overall pace of The Serpent King.This story is heartbreaking and beautiful all at once. It is a fantastic coming of age story and a beautiful addition to the contemporary YA scene. As a debut novel I must say that I am thoroughly impressed with Zentner and his writing and I’m eager to read more from him in the future.And if you're going to live, you might as well do painful, brave and beautiful things.--Initial Post Reading Thoughts:Oh man. This book brought on a serious case of the feels. What a beautiful coming of age story.

  • Rick Riordan
    2018-08-19 10:07

    Heartbreaking, uplifting, genuine and beautiful — those are the first words that come to mind about The Serpent King. The story revolves around three very different friends growing up in Forrestville, Tennessee. (Or Forestville, as our female protagonist insists on calling it, since the town was named after Klan founder Nathan Bedford Forrest, so ‘the extra r stands for racist.’) Lydia has the most functional family in our trio of heroes. Her folks are comfortably well-off. They support and love her. She isn’t popular at school, but she has another life on-line as a high-profile blogger on fashion and pop culture. Because of all this, and because of her strong self-confidence, her opportunities after high school seem limitless. She wants to go to NYU. She has already connected with high-powered fashion industry people there, and she looks forward to getting out of Tennessee for good.Dill Early, on the other hand, is hopelessly mired in his family’s past. His father, a charismatic preacher who shares Dill’s name, is presently in jail for child porn. People in their small town either think Dill Jr. is a pervert like his father, or they blame him for letting Dill Sr. go to jail, since Dill Jr.’s testimony is what put his dad away. Dill has talent and dreams of being a musician, but his parents would never allow it, and he is expected to start working full time at the grocery store once he graduates high school to help pay the family’s huge debts. Worst of all: Dill is secretly in love with his longtime friend Lydia, who is about to move away forever and leave him stuck in his dismal life. What’s a guy to do?Travis, the third member of our trio, is a sword-and-sorcery reader who is obsessed with a ‘Game of Thrones’ type series. Travis even carries his own ‘wizarding staff’ around with him wherever he goes. He’s a big guy, and his abusive drunk father wants him to play on the football team, but Travis has no interest in this. He would rather hang out with his two friends, work in the lumber mill, and spend the rest of his time in his worlds of fantasy. But how will the end of high school affect him, especially with Dill and Lydia’s lives changing too?This book is the story of their senior year, which takes a horrible turn with a life-shattering act of violence. And of course . . . I can’t tell you what that is. You’ll have to read the book! Trust me, though — you will love these characters. You will relate to them no matter where you live. If you’ve ever felt stuck, confused, anxious . . . if you’ve ever struggled with your feelings and your dreams for the future, you can’t help but forge deep connections to Dill, Lydia, and Travis. One last bonus: the dialogue just sparkles. It’s punchy, smart and authentically teen. Or at least, it’s how we wished we might have sounded at our best in high school.

  • Jamie (The Perpetual Page-Turner)
    2018-07-26 05:56

    Incredible, you guys. Incredible!!!!

  • Roshani Chokshi
    2018-08-06 04:10

    You may have already heard that Zentner's THE SERPENT KING will twist your heart. This is true. But there is more. This entire book is a held breath. It's about things in flux. The beasts that anchor us to the life we know and the life we wish to live. THE SERPENT KING has the perfect title too — Otherworldly and fabled. That's exactly how those last few months leading up to highschool graduation feel. You are parsing apart your autumns, letting nostalgia tease out brighter colors in your world because everything is "the last time." What's amazing is that Zentner imbues that "last time" quality with a thousand and one FIRSTS. First time for bravery, for altruism, for music that sews magic into your bones and love that lets us hold oceans in our hands and friendship that makes every day a little more mythic.

  • Brooks Benjamin
    2018-08-14 05:10

    I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.One of the most satisfying things to watch is a Tennessee sunset after a long summer day. How it takes its time, lets us soak in as much of that color as possible before the inevitable darkness that follows. The way the sky seems to hold its breath right before the sun dips down over the horizon. It's just a gorgeous experience in so many ways.That's what Jeff's book is. A Tennessee sunset. I could compare it to a million other things, but I just keep coming back to that. Reading The Serpent King is a stroll, not a run. We live with these characters for a good while, and during that time we get to see how contradictory their existence in their town is. They belong there. No doubt about it. Just like the sun belongs in the sky. But as they grow and change, we begin to discover how out of place they actually are. They become the colors that spread across the heavens during that sunset. The colors that fade into existence, jumping out of the dull gray to burn bright and hot for as long as they can. Jeff does such a wonderful job capturing that ebb and flow of the rural south, a place where freedom can be thought of as a sacred notion, but so many people still seem imprisoned by their lack of exposure to the world outside their town. This drives much of the conflict in The Serpent King and it's so satisfying to see its three main characters—Dillon, Lydia, and Travis—push back as the story progresses. They fill every chapter with an array of shades and hues that grow more magnificent at every turn. And when the sun finally bids us goodnight, it bids it with a harsh and cold tongue. I loved this story. I loved these characters. I loved the writing. Every page is precious and memorable. Just like a beautiful Tennessee sunset should be.

  • *TANYA*
    2018-08-02 02:56

    4.25 stars!!! I have to be honest and say that it took me a while to get into this book and as I kept reading my interest increased. A very good read. Heartbreaking and endearing. I would like a follow up please. Lol.

  • Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
    2018-08-12 03:49

    Fuck. This book is going to stick with me for a long, long time. I'm currently bouncing back and forth between giving this a 4 or a 5 star review, but for now I think I'm going to give it the full 5 stars. I just. Man. This book was heavy. So, so heavy.

  • Aditi
    2018-08-13 03:59

    “People think dreams aren't real just because they aren't made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes.”----Neil GaimanJeff Zentner, an American author, pens an engrossing young adult fiction in his debut book, The Serpent King narrates the story of three imperfect high school senior year teenagers who have ended up in a dead end town, and wants desperately to give wings to their dreams except the two boys, who want their friend, with big dreams to live in a big city, to stay in that part of the town and maintain their friendship. Synopsis: 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. Dill, Lydia and Travis are the misfit high school trio, who are best friends and each other's salvation in a small town in Tennessee. Dill is the guy whose father once went to prison and after his release he turned himself into the preacher of snake gods, thus Dill can't escape the bullies subjected to him because of his father's conviction and his Jesus-believer mother can';t stop blaming her son for her husband's conviction and also wants him to finish school to handle their household financially. Travis is the guy who has found his solace in the pages of his favorite fantasy series, Bloodfall and he can't stop fangirling about this whole series and to show his apparent love for this book, he even carries a staff and wears a weird dragon necklace, wherever he goes, hence he too is subjected o bullies in school.Lydia is partly the perfect girl among the shadows of this two imperfect guys, as she belongs from a well-to-do family and with their constant support, she has launched herself as a popular fashion blogger in the internet, and also she can't wait to get over with school and to leave this small weird town to give wings to her big dreams in an NYC college. But the guys do not want her to leave the town, especially they don't want their friendship to come to an end, but the inevitable is hard to turn around, when more than one heart is bound to break.This debut author's book is going to surprise a lot of readers with the depth of the story line as well as with the writing style. The book's cover image is really pretty and cool and aptly captures the theme of the story. The story will take the readers to a place called, Forrestville, a rural and poverty-stricken Southern town, where the author has painted the backdrop of the story line vividly by portraying the people of such a town, the culture, the religion, the language, as well as the rugged landscape. The author's portrayal of this town is so striking that it will make the readers visualize the scenes right before their eyes. The author's writing style is distinct and articulate and is laced with heart-felt and powerful emotions, especially the emotions that a person get when he is trying to brave the unknown on his/her way. The emotions are real and strong which hold a power to make the readers to move and relate with the story. The narrative style and the dialogues are not only inspired by the location but are also quite arresting to hold the readers' attention till the very end. The pacing is quite fast as the story will make the readers sway with its free-flowing form.The characters are completely flawed and are depicted with realism and authenticity in their demeanor. The main protagonists, the three teenagers behave just like any normal teenager would act, yet they display an unmatched courage and bravery while trying to fight their everyday battles and challenges. Yes they commit mistakes, but how they quickly learn from those mistakes can set an example for many teenagers around the world. The rest of the supporting cast are also quite well-developed and the author really brings out the reality in their demeanor through their portrayal. The author has incorporated the themes like lasting friendship, bullying, religion, faith among one another and in everything and courage among teenagers effectively and strongly as after the end of the book the readers are bound to think about such themes and how to respect those themes in their own lives. The author has depicted the theme of faith powerfully and strikingly through the main characters as they evolves and along with their evolvement their faiths grew.In a nutshell, the book is a must read for every teenagers and this compelling and riveting book will surely keep the readers glued to the pages of this book, as they finally find the inevitable climax that is bound to break the hearts of the readers. Verdict:A powerful story about friendships, dreams and faith. Courtesy:Thanks to the author's publishers for giving me an opportunity to read and review this book.