The Serpent King

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The Serpent King

Author: Jeff Zentner

Genre: YA

Grade: B+

Dill, Lydia and Travis are all small town kids and high school outcasts (for a variety of reasons) who are either dreaming of bigger lives or feeling that they’re stuck in the lives their parents and families made for them. Not great ones at that.

This book honestly made me cry harder than a lot of things recently. But I also think people’s mileage will vary on The Serpent King based on what they feel is emotionally manipulative. I was going along reading this and thinking it was a great character piece but not a lot of plot. Will Travis get away from an abusive parent? Will Dill escape his parents and go to college? Will Lydia…?

Well, Lydia was a great character a whip-smart and ambitious blogger but compared to the other two her parents and family life were almost crazy. I mean I honestly felt like it had gone Disney whenever Lydia’s parents were around.

Then the gut punch. I’m not going to give away spoilers. Like I said I cried like crazy. All the feels and all that but then the book kept going and going and I started to think… Could we have gotten to this place without what happened? Probably. Again, I don’t want to get to into it and give anything away. It worked in the book.

The book is well written from a character perspective but I have to admit it felt drawn out at times and left some interesting threads going nowhere (Dill’s family history for one). Yet the friendship between the kids, especially Dill and Travis, is really enjoyable and I loved the cute little side bit about Travis waiting for his beloved fantasy novel series to finish. (I totally take that as a Song of Ice and Fire reference in which case it probably never will.)

Bonus points for a particular response to a personal question on Lydia’s blog that I see people getting a lot. It was golden.

Recommend: Yes. I know I sound a little down on this book but for a debut novel there’s a lot of potential here and the characters are exceedingly well-drawn. So if it sounds like it interests you at all it’s definitely worth the read.