Monday, March 7, 2016

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

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.

5/5 Stars

*Thank you for the ARC Penguin Random House*

It's like a game of Jenga... With each word you pull out a block and slowly feel the build up of something big about to happen. The tower starts leaning and eventually it comes crumbling down. More words rebuild the tower and the story finds a beginning from an end. That sums up The Serpent King. It is felt deep within the soul and opens your heart in ways you never knew possible. 

The story is about three friends. Three different individuals, with three different home lives. One is privileged and popular on the internet.  One is abused by his drunk father and one has a tainted name. Together they work through their insecurities and push each other to reach for the stars. It's not always easy though. To be honest, it's punch in the gut. Some of the scenes will grasp your heart and have you gasping for air. I couldn't believe the ups and downs and how real each vivid scene felt. In some twisted way I felt connected to the characters. I could feel their personalities seep from the pages and I could just picture their stance and attitude with each word exchanged. Friendship is the theme, but trust, love, honesty, grief, hope, and anger all play a part in the story of Lydia, Dil, and Travis. 

I applaud the Author because the subjects (bullying, abuse, tough home life, suicide, death, first love) in this story are done a lot, but he took them and made them his own. Each one is thoroughly exposed and touched on with grit and pose. Nothing is sugar coated and for that I am thankful. To say I enjoyed this story is an understatement. I feel like this should be a mandated high school read. It's a book that opens your eyes to the bad and pushes you to find good.

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