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The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
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The Serpent King (2016)

by Jeff Zentner

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Showing 1-5 of 55 (next | show all)
Coming of age book about 3 teens living in rural Tennessee. They are outcasts, but grow in courage with the help of each other. ( )
  rmarcin | Jan 22, 2019 |
I loved this book! I couldn't put it down! The twists and turns in the plot kept me on the edge of my seat, and I could definitely relate to many of the struggles of Dill and his friends. It's refreshing to read something written about today's small town teens! ( )
  AlliBehr | Nov 3, 2018 |
The Serpent King is a story about young love, about loss, and about growing up and finding your path in the world. It's a novel that has received a lot of love and a lot of hype. I can see why people love it so much - it has that same tragic feel that John Green excels at. I can definitely see where this book would have a place in peoples' hearts, even if it was just a so/so read for me.

One of my biggest issues with this one is the plot - or, rather, the scattered around lack of one. I never quite knew where we were going as I listened, and I felt like I was always waiting for the next turn to see if that pointed me in the right direction. There were a lot of little subplots - two romances, a death, emotional and physical abuse in families. Zentner took on a lot all at once with The Serpent King, and as a result, we are all over the place. It feels like a year in the life of these characters, where we start on the first day of school, finish on summer vacation, and only one of them has grown a little.

The characters are well enough written. I liked Travis a lot - he reminded me of an ex I'm still fond of - and I think that the variety in personalities was well-done. Outside of the POV characters, subcharacters started to blend together. Lydia's New York friends jus felt like annoying interruptions, and the miscellany of mothers blurred.

The writing style itself was slow and steady, and there's nothing wrong with that. I think that Zentner did a good job capturing his voices and offered the right amount of suspense, detail, and surprise. I have no complaints about his delivery, per se, just about the lack of clear direction and that unsatisfied feeling at the end.

I would continue to recommend The Serpent King to people - in fact, I think my brother would like it - but it's not the sort of novel I am going to personally add to myself. I think it's worth a read, though, and it's a short enough book to be an easy weekend read from the library. ( )
  Morteana | Oct 17, 2018 |
I debated between two and three stars for this. I settled on three because there were a few things I thought the author did really well so I wanted to at least concede that.

Oh I wish I could have liked this book.

The writing style is fine. At times it transcends fine into beautiful.

The characters are...for the most part...well-drawn. Which is good. But I felt like for the most part these well-drawn characters were wasted.

First and foremost: for a contemporary book there was a lot of unreality here. For example, Lydia is a famous blogger and yet no one in her school seems to know this. Is she the only one with internet connection? Like...even if they're only interested in hanging around with her because she's famous, it's hard for me to believe every single person in the school hates her while she has hundreds of thousands of followers you know? Even in the deep south kids go online. Kids pay attention to the world around them. It was much more realistic that the kids would stay away from Dill because of his father, but Lydia's presence in this book was just...off-kilter to me.

I thought about what I liked and I realized I liked Travis and Dill--two outsiders in their small southern town, living with family tragedies and trying to get through a world that wants to crush them. I thought their relationship, their friendship was true, and good, and important. And far be it for me to ever want fewer female characters in a book but I realized if you removed Lydia, you'd have a more cohesive, more cogent, and ultimately more affecting story. Lydia felt like she belonged in another book entirely, to be honest, and her scenes were completely lacking in comparison to Dill and Travis's.

So basically I felt like there was tons of potential for this book but it ended up diluted entirely by a misuse of character and plotlines that dragged down what could have been a more meaningful, more powerful story.

( )
  ElleGato | Sep 27, 2018 |
I liked this book much more than I expected. It is an interesting coming of age story about a high school boy named Dill who has grown up with a Pentecostal preacher father who passed poisonous snakes around his congregation. The story begins with the father in prison for child pornography. Dill is entering his last year of high school and trying to figure out what he will do after graduation. He struggles with the expectations of his family and friends. He struggles to break the cycle of poverty and mental illness in his family. The extreme religious view adds an interesting element to the story as well. Dill has to find is own path and his own belief, and he must lean that the sins of his father are not his own.
  heidimaxinerobbins | Jul 8, 2018 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 055352402X, Hardcover)

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 winner
 
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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 23 Jul 2015 20:18:54 -0400)

The son of a Pentecostal preacher faces his personal demons as he and his two outcast friends try to make it through their senior year of high school in rural Forrestville, Tennessee without letting the small-town culture destroy their creative spirits and sense of self.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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