Book Title: The Serpent King Author: Jeff Zentner Number of pages: 384
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.
Should this book be picked up? the tl;dr review:
– A quiet coming of age centering on Southern youths living within The Bible Belt; the environment/infrastructure is vividly imagined
– Multi-POV narrative (2 boys, 1 girl) with socioeconomic and religious diversity
– Pitch perfect characterizations with accessible struggles that make it easy to empathize and root for these kids
– This story capitalizes on the art of living and growing up featuring prose that’s mundanely resilient, effortlessly luminous, and simply raw.
I read most of this book commuting on transit. The dialogue between my heart versus brain went something like this:
Heart: Oh hey there sad mome–
Brain: —FIGHT THE TEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRSSsss.
There are no spoilers in this review.
Disclaimer: I received a copy from Penguin Random House of Canada courtesy of Goodreads First Reads. I extend thanks for letting me read this in advance. (Also props to the creative decision to make the ARC cover feel so buttery.)