The Serpent King
Published:March 8, 2016
Publisher:Crown Books for Young Readers
Seeing stars? Professional book reviewers only award a star to exceptional books. More than one star means experts from multiple organizations felt the book was outstanding.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“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.
Praise for The Serpent King:
"As the novel, Zentner's debut, builds to a shocking act of violence that shatters the friends' world, this sepia-toned portrait of small-town life serves as a moving testament to love, loyalty, faith, and reaching through the darkness to find light and hope." —PW, starred
"Characters, incidents, dialogue, the poverty of the rural South, enduring friendship, a desperate clinging to strange faiths, fear of the unknown, and an awareness of the courage it takes to survive, let alone thrive, are among this fine novel's strengths. Zentner writes with understanding and grace--a new voice to savor." —Kirkus Reviews, starred
“The third-person narration manages to convey distinct flavor for each deeply personal and introspective storyline, so each character emerges as an authentic individual, flawed yet lovable, and readers will find themselves drawn by the heartstrings into their complex lives.” —Bulletin, starred
“Debut author Jeff Zentner's The Serpent King is the mesmerizing story of three teenage misfits who band together in [a] Bible Belt town… Zentner sings a song of deep pain and harsh reality, but also of fierce love and hope.” —Shelf Awareness, starred
"Recommended for fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell." —SLJ
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Named one of "The Most Anticipated YA Books of 2016" —Paste Magazine and Popcrush.com
"A musician himself, Zentner transitions to prose easily in his debut, pulling in complex issues that range from struggles with faith to abuse to grief. Refreshingly, this novel isn't driven by romance--though it rears its head--but by the importance of pursuing individual passions and forging one's own path. A promising new voice in YA." —Booklist
"Zentner combines the melancholy of being 17 with the melancholy present in the best of Southern fiction and gives us a novel that will fill the infinite space that was left in your chest after you finished The Perks of Being a Wallflower." —BookRiot
"The Serpent King gripped me in its coils and kept me turning pages late into the night. A triumph of love and dignity."—Stephanie Perkins, New York Times bestselling author
"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