The Serpent King

The Serpent King

A Novel

Book - 2016
Average Rating:
8
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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.
Publisher: New York : Crown, 2016
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780553524024
055352402X
9780553524031
0553524038
Branch Call Number: YA ZENTNER
Characteristics: 372 pages ; 22 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

Follow Dill, Lydia, and Travis as they experience their senior year of high school in a small town in Tennessee.

ALA/YALSA Morris Award 2017


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j
jadenf404
Aug 05, 2017

The way the characters progressed through the book, through the ups and downs was was really good. You know you have a great book when you start to feel every emotion each character has. It made me think I lot throughout the book and after, reliving the best moments and just thinking about how each character feels, one of my favourite books ever!

b
Bell_Fleck
Jul 19, 2017

The Serpent King is authentic. I'm not surprised, therefore, that it created buzz for debut author Jeff Zentner. I'm not sure I've read a story placed in the Bible belt of America before, a story in which religion plays an important role in setting the stage. I am grateful both that Zentner included the signs ministry of main character Dill's father as well as for Zentner's choice not to make the most salacious element of his book central to its plot. I say this even as a Christian, as someone who believes in a certain way that spirituality is central to our lives. In this case, religion would have been overbearing in the story; moreover, it probably would have glorified the signs of faith Dill turns his back on, that is, snake bites and drinking poison. Interestingly, there is consensus in a majority of Christian churches that such signs are not central to faith. Some Bibles even note that the passage (Mark 16:18) in which this ministry is found is not present in the earliest manuscripts of the New Testament.

b
brangwinn
May 06, 2017

Great character development in a coming of age story puts three high school senior misfits together as they look to life beyond high school. Only Lydia has money and knows she’ll go on to college. She just doesn’t fit into the juvenile attitudes of other class members. Dil, is dirt poor. His snake handling preacher dad is in prison for child porn. His mom wants him to drop out of school and get a full time job. Travis is a fantasy loving big guy who lives within his favorite fantasy series, making him the brunt of taunts from other schoolmates. He works in a lumberyard and is physically abused by his alcoholic father. This a story in which the reader will be forced to do a lot of thinking, particularly about how the boys will make it beyond high school. Filled with hope and tremendous sadness, the story culminates in a satisfying way. If you like John Green you’ll like the writing of Jeff Zenter

a
athniereid
Jan 16, 2017

The Serpent King follows the story of Dill, Travis, and Lydia, three friends in their last year of high school in a rural Tennessee town. It is a poignant and at times very heartbreaking story about what it means to be remembered and the importance of creating your own destiny. This book deals with some very heavy topics, but ultimately leaves you with a sense of hope.

If super (super super) sad but ultimately uplifting realistic YA is your bag, you may just fall in love with The Serpent King. Jeff Zentner (who, unrelated to the book, is a hysterical human and a person you should follow on Twitter if that's your thing) has created a fully realized, living, breathing place in Forrestville. As someone who grew up in rural North Carolina, parts of this book made me physically anxious because they rang so true. The trio of protagonists grow and develop over the story in a masterfully subtle and wonderful way. Also there's a section towards the end that's about 50 pages long during which I cackled nonstop. I don't want to spoil it, but you'll know and it's genius. My biggest critique of this book, though, is in its secondary characters. You know pretty quickly that Dill and Travis have terrible parents. But, like, they have REALLY TERRIBLE parents. Comically terrible parents. I understand how it fits into the overall narrative structure, but had those characters been a bit more subtly drawn and developed, I think the story would have only become more resonant and complex. Either way, I recommend this book, and Jeff Zentner is definitely an author to watch.

p
pasmendiola
May 16, 2016

read this one in one night couldn't t put it down, emotional and uplifting in a sad sort of way that makes one think as all good books should won't be disappointed

CalgaryLibrary_Youth Apr 18, 2016

A wonderful, heartbreaking book for anyone who has ever wished their world was just a little bigger. Great for fans of John Green.

LPL_MollyW Mar 02, 2016

I read this book in a day, and it left me supremely satisfied but also emotionally devastated. This is the story of the last year of high school of a misfit group of friends: Dill, a talented singer/songwriter who happens to be the son of a snake-wielding Pentecostal preacher whose in prison for child-pornography, his fashion-blogger best friend who dreams of escaping their small town and the guy they hang out with whose more interested in the fantasy world of his favorite book series than life after high school. The setting is as important and well-developed as the characters. Zentner makes the small Tennessee town come alive. The setting was vivid and true. Without shying away from accurate depictions of rural poverty, a suffocating sense of the inevitable, complacency in the wake of obvious abuse, and hostility towards those who are different. The themes of growing up, finding one’s own identity, the power of friendship, and following one’s dreams will resonate with many older teens, but is also a good fit for adults who love coming of age stories. Highly recommended, and my favorite read of 2015 (so far!)

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