Today’s review is part of the official blog tour for The Serpent King. Please be sure to keep reading for more about the book, the author, and links to the rest of the blog tour.
An explosive and gut-wrenching novel about growing up and defining oneself, The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner has all the makings of a modern classic.
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.
This book blew me away. It is gorgeously written, with Zentner’s writing transporting the reader to small town Tennessee and into the lives of three teens on the brink of adulthood. Following Dill, Travis, and Lydia as they navigate their senior year of high school, Zentner captures a universal adolescent experience in a truly unique place.
Zentner has done something truly unique these days; he has written a novel that captures the spirit of the best coming-of-age stories that is also wholly unique. His story, setting, and characters feel refreshingly new, while also evoking the same emotions as some of the most loved books in this genre. (Books like The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Catcher in the Rye.)
I related to these characters. I ached for these characters. I wanted to wrap them in hugs and comfort them, and also tuck them in my pocket to keep them close to me. The Serpent King is the kind of book that you want to keep with you forever.
And luckily, you can. It is in stores now.
THE SERPENT KING (On sale March 8, 2016 / $17.99 / Ages 14 & up) by singer-songwriter Jeff Zentner
In this emotional story, 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. Drawing from his own roots growing up in the south, Zentner’s debut is haunting, heartbreaking, and hopeful, and is in the vein of beloved novels The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Looking for Alaska, and Eleanor & Park.
PRAISE for THE SERPENT KING:
One of Paste Magazine’s “10 Most Anticipated YA Books of 2016”
“Zentner’s prose wraps you up like a warm, Southern hug and packs the punches of a sweaty country brawl…The Serpent King is a debut 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,author of Where Things Come Back, winner of the Michael L. Printz Award and William C. Morris Award
“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
“[T]his 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. Zentner explores difficult themes head on—including the desire to escape the sins of the father and the fragility of happiness—while tempering them with the saving grace of enduring friendship.”
— Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“Thorough characterization and artful prose allow readers to intimately experience the highs and lows of these three friends . . . Recommended for fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell.”
— School Library Journal
“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 Review
“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.”
“A moving debut novel of friendship and forgiveness that will stick with you long after you’ve finished it, I’m calling it now… The Serpent King is already one of my favorite books of 2016.”
— Eric Smith for BookRiot
- Monday, February 22: Jenuine Cupcakes, Kickoff Blog Tour Post
- Tuesday, February 23: Book Hounds, Review
- Wednesday, February 24: Mundie Moms, Review
- Thursday, February 25: Curling Up With a Good Book, Review
- Friday, February 26: To Read or Not to Read, Annotate a Scene Guest Post
- Monday, February 29: Bookish Lifestyle, Review
- Tuesday, March 1: The Book Swarm, Review
- Wednesday, March 2: Katie’s Book Blog, Playlist Post
- Thursday, March 3: Paperback Princess, Guest Post: Writing a Character with a Parent in Prison
- Friday, March 4: Who R U, Behind the Scenes Book Secret Guest Post
- Monday, March 7: Icey Books, Review
- Tuesday, March 8: Stories & Sweeties, Author Interview
- Wednesday, March 9: LovingDemBooks, Review
- Thursday, March 10: Swoony Boys Podcast, Review
- Friday, March 11: Good Books And Good Wine, Review
- Monday, March 14: Winter Haven Books, Review
- Tuesday, March 15: Me, My Shelf and I, Review
- Wednesday, March 16: Novel Novice, Review
- Thursday, March 17: Lili’s Reflections, Review
- Friday, March 18: A Reader of Fictions, Author “Don’t Miss” in Nashville Guest Post