The Serpent King

The Serpent King

by Jeff Zentner

Hardcover

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Overview

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Named to ten BEST OF THE YEAR lists and selected as a William C. Morris Award Winner, The Serpent King is the critically acclaimed, much-beloved story of three teens who find themselves--and each other--while on the cusp of graduating from high school with hopes of leaving their small-town behind.

This gorgeous paperback edition with a full-color step-back cover will have teens everywhere itching to discover the book that everyone is talking about. Perfect for fans of John Green's Turtles All the Way Down.

"Move over, John Green; Zentner is coming for you." —The New York Public Library

“Will fill the infinite space that was left in your chest after you finished The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” —BookRiot.com 
 

Dill isn't the most popular kid at his rural Tennessee high school. After his father fell from grace in a public scandal that reverberated throughout their small town, Dill became a target. Fortunately, his two fellow misfits and best friends, Travis and Lydia, have his back.

But as they begin their senior year, Dill feels the coils of his future tightening around him. His only escapes are music and his secret feelings for Lydia--neither of which he is brave enough to share. Graduation feels more like an ending to Dill than a beginning. But even before then, he must cope with another ending--one that will rock his life to the core.
 
Debut novelist Jeff Zentner provides an unblinking and at times comic view of the hard realities of growing up in the Bible belt, and an intimate look at the struggles to find one’s true self in the wreckage of the past.

“A story about friendship, family and forgiveness, it’s as funny and witty as it is utterly heartbreaking.” —PasteMagazine.com

“A brutally honest portrayal of teen life . . . [and] a love letter to the South from a man who really understands it.” —Mashable.com

“I adored all three of these characters and the way they talked to and loved one another.”—New York Times

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553524024
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 03/08/2016
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 50,763
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.60(d)
Lexile: HL630L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Before becoming a writer, JEFF ZENTNER was a singer-songwriter and guitarist who recorded with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, and Debbie Harry. He lives in Nashville with his wife and son. Committed to making creativity a part of his everyday life, Zentner wrote both his debut novel, The Serpent King, and his follow-up book, Goodbye Days, on his iPhone while taking the bus to and from work. You can follow Zentner on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter at @jeffzentner.

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Excerpted from "The Serpent King"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Jeff Zentner.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Children's Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Serpent King 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A genuine coming-of-age story that enraptured me from the first page. I couldn't put it down. I read the entire book in one evening. It was funny, gut wrenching, and yet hopeful. A great story that will stay with me.
MyndiL More than 1 year ago
This was another book suggested by my favorite librarian at the Urbandale Library! I went in to get a few books and she pulled this one off the shelf and told me I would enjoy it. She was not wrong. It was a little slow in the beginning for me to get into, but once I was I had trouble putting it down. I was really drawn into the lives of these three friends and how they were incredibly different and yet still so connected. That is true friendship, when it's based on who you are as a person and not what you're into, where your family came from, what your beliefs are...you just truly like the people for who they are on the inside. It's a very emotional read, so be prepared for that. There is so much going on in the lives of these teens and there is just about every emotion imaginable in this story. Definitely have tissues on hand. I think high school aged teens will enjoy and benefit from this story. It covers many issues they will be facing and some that I hope they will never face.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Maybe it's because I read this on the same day I finished Goodbye Days, but it struck me that the brilliance of Zentner's writing is his fully fleshed characters. Just as we got to know Blake, Eli, and Mars - and wept for the abbreviated span of their lives - in Days, we become fully immersed in the griefs and triumphs, the darkness and light, the lack, loss, and the winning of love as we follow Dill, Lydia, and Travis through their final year of school in a nowhere southern town. I read this on my NOOK, but this is when I would have preferred to read an actual book so that after finishing that last page I could have shut it slowly, stroked the cover, opened it again to smell the pages, and finally, slip a pressed flower between the pages denoting the volume as not only memorable, but a keeper.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
OK n
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
Dill is used to being an outsider. First because of his father's Penecostal ministry where members handled poisonous snakes to prove their faith. Then later because of his father's arrest for possession of child pornography. Consequently Dills tries to keeps his head down and does what is required to get by while attracting as little attention as possible. Travis doesn't worry much about what other people think of him, his dragon necklace, or the staff he carries everywhere. He knows who he is and refuses to let anyone diminish his abiding love of fantasy novels--also he's 6'4" which is a big help even if he hates aggression and violence. Lydia has never avoided notice in her life. Born and raised in small town Tennessee, she dreams of life in the big city. And she knows that her ambition and her fashion and lifestyle blog Dolly Would will help her get there--starting with her application to NYU. While Lydia and Travis have their eyes on the future, Dill knows that this last year of high school is as good as he can hope for. As everything ends and falls apart around him, Dill will have to try to write a new beginning for himself in The Serpent King (2016) by Jeff Zentner. The Serpent King is Zentner's first novel. It alternates first person narration primarily between Dill and Lydia with fewer chapters from Travis. This novel is filled with evocative descriptions and dynamic characters. Lydia especially comes across as larger than life throughout the novel. While all three friends have a strong bond, they also have a lot of secrets. The contrast between their narrations highlight the ways that these friends come together and also the ways that they keep each other at a distance. In addition to dealing with his family's poverty and the repercussions of his father's arrest, Dill also struggles with his faith throughout The Serpent King as he tries to reconcile his religious beliefs with his ambitions (and his mother's refusal to believe that Dill can or should want more from his life). Lydia's life is a huge contrast to both Dill and Travis. Her family has more money, stability, and affection than either of the boys can imagine. While Lydia refuses to rein in her ambitions because of Dill and Travis' limitations (they are both poor, have weaker grades, and fewer prospects after high school), she does unpack her privilege and gain some hard-won empathy as the novel progresses. The Serpent King is an introspective and meditative novel closely focused on Dill, Lydia, and Travis. Thoughtful prose and a tense plot build to a satisfying conclusion as these characters realize the future can be whatever they choose to make it. Although the overall tone of this novel is melancholy, the story remains empowering and ultimately hopeful. Possible Pairings: Rapture Practice by Aaron Hartzler, This Raging Light by Estelle Laure, When We Collided by Emery Lord, The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales, The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider, Cloudwish by Fiona Wood
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved The Serpent king. Could not put down. Made me angry, happy, made me laugh out loud, made me cry, loved the characters
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
From the first word to the last twas a pure joy. Laughter and tears. You will become friends with Dill, Lydia and Travis.
Lisa-LostInLiterature More than 1 year ago
THE BASICS: Lisa : Becca and I were so excited to start this buddy read together. After hearing countless times how absolutely incredible this book was, we were so excited to experience it for ourselves. We were also lucky enough to receive the audiobook copy from the publisher, so it was even more exciting for us since listening to the audio can bring a story to a whole new level. Sadly, we weren't as impressed as we wanted to be. This story was good, interesting at times, but also very depressing and didn't wow us as we had hoped. Becca : The Serpent King has been the recipient of a lot of hype on social media and across the blogosphere, and it is a book that I have been eager to start, especially after hearing so many good things. TSK is a coming of age story of three teens, Travis, Dill and Lydia in a small Tennessee town. Outcasts, each with a different story and vastly different lives, they have formed a friendship that holds them together and keeps the bullies at bay... well mostly. WHAT WE LIKED: Becca : The friendship between these three characters is one that many strive to find in their lives, and even more in high school. They are a group of real and true friends, who have each others backs and stick up for one another. I loved how different they were and the fact that they still worked together as a unit. Their acceptance and empathy for each other was by far my favorite part of this book. Jeff Zentner is a clever writer, he is very witty and even inserts doses of humor within the banter of his characters. I really did enjoy his writing style and character development. Lisa : I have to say my favorite part of this story was the friendships. These teenagers did NOT have it easy. There was a whole lot going on, especially in their home lives. I loved how they stuck together through thick and thin, regardless of what was happening behind the scenes. I also did like how emotional and heartfelt this story was. It definitely wasn't an easy read, but I can really appreciate that in certain books. The things these youngsters had to deal with was unthinkable and definitely caused my anger to rage. Regardless, it was easy to feel for these characters as this conduct they experienced was, sadly, very realistic. (I know I'm keeping this rather vague, but I'm doing that on purpose. I think knowing little to nothing going into this story is the way to go.) WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE: Lisa : As far as what I did like... it was mostly the pacing. This story really dragged here and there. It wasn't just one time... it would drag, then something would happen, then it would drag some more. I just wasn't as into the book as I had hoped, given the emotional nature of the story. I did feel for these characters, but I never felt fully invested in them, if that makes any sense. I liked them, they were unique and I really appreciated Jeff's writing style and how his personality really came through these characters... but it all seemed like it was from afar, as I never really felt like I was in with this group. Becca : This book has a very depressing feel, from the first sentence to the last. Books with a dark and somber story line are hard for me to take in sometimes. I tend to take on the feelings of the books I read and carry them with me as I read them and even after. This book made my soul feel dark and a bit hopeless and it really got to me. There were also some very troubling things going on in this book, both Dill and Travis
Katie_breathofbooks More than 1 year ago
This was a very good book that was character driven and I really loved all of the main characters. I very strongly disliked all of the parent characters, except Lydia's because they were really great. But Travis and Dill both have awful dads, and Dill's mom is bad too. Travis' mom tries, but she can't save him from her husband. This story isn't always happy because it is dealing with a lot of tough issues but it has its good moments. The characters and their friendship is truly beautiful. These three kind of misfits in the South are able to bond and find hope in each other. I really loved this book.
HSMeloche More than 1 year ago
The Serpent King is like a really complex Southern recipe. All the individual bits are added one at a time into the heat until, in the end, you have this really delicious whole. The story is slow and sizzling, beginning at the end of the main characters' senior year, when each of them must make choices about what they want to do once high school is over. The novel's biggest strength, however, lies in its sensual descriptions, especially of place. Zentner takes us to the oppressive hotness and humidity of Tennessee, which adds to how suffocated the characters feel living in their small, dead-end town. He uses images like "the humidity mounted an assault even at nine-twenty in the morning--like a hot, wet towel wrapped around his face," but then mixes them with descriptions like "every nerve in his body suddenly felt like a rush of wind in long grass" and (my personal favorite, which I think I read twenty times before moving on) "Lydia's hair cascaded across his chest, forming tributaries and estuaries," allowing Zentner to brilliantly show how much a place is a part of the people who live there. As much as the three main characters -- Lydia, Dill, and Travis -- want to escape their town of Forrestville, they are innately aware that it is a part of who they are and that each of them is a part of the others. It makes the thought of finishing high school and potentially leaving the town and, thus, their friends intensely somber and painful. In the end, each character must decide who they are, what their purpose is, and if they can amount to anything beyond their family's blood and the breezy air, muddy water, and heavy heat of Tennessee flowing through them. I loved this book. Give me more, Jeff. Do it again.
vampiregrl123 More than 1 year ago
Thank you to Jeff Zentner and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. I have so many good things to say about this novel. It was breath taking and heartbreaking. I cried a lot of tears so make sure you have your tissue boxes on hand. This novel is a coming of age story about three friends in high school who are figuring out what they want to do with their lives. The three friends – Lydia, Dill, and Travis – live very different lives but somehow they latched onto one another and became friends. Lydia is a popular fashion blogger who is dreaming of moving on from their small town to do bigger and better things. She can’t wait to move to New York with her new friends she met through her blog and who all have connections in the fashion industry. Travis and Dill are both simply planning on graduating high and continuing to work at their jobs full time; Travis at his dad’s lumberyard and Dill at the local grocery story. However, Lydia wants more for them than what she thinks is a sad, pathetic life. Throughout the novel each teen experiences ups and downs, triumphs and loses. Each one learns something they never knew about themselves. They rely on one another when they have no one else to turn to. Each character in this novel is different and brings something different to the story. Lydia is a fashion blogger and total girly girl who can’t wait to get out of the small town and experience life in the big city. For the most part she has positive things to say to the boys and is constantly trying to help them find their potential. Dill has musical talents and strengths that he has learned through his adversities and the controversy with his father. Readers can tell that he is very mature for his age, even if some of the other characters don’t think so. Travis has imagination, creativity, and innocence that he has learned through his fantasy novels. His friends may not understand him like he wants, but he is okay with that. I don’t want to spoil anything because it will be better for readers to go into this novel not knowing much. I highly recommend this novel to everyone out there. It was a great read and taught me a lot.
SMParker More than 1 year ago
The Serpent King is the story of three teens making their way through their last year of high school in the rural south. Each page--each character's arc--beats with a beautiful hope at its center. I lived with Dill, Lydia and Travis in my heart long after I turned the final page. I would recommend this coming-of-age story to anyone who has grown up, or anyone who plans to grow up. The characters in The Serpent King will have you thinking hard about finding home--both the home we accept within ourselves and the home we create in community. It is a debut novel filled with all the beauty and horror of trust & love & mistakes. And every page shines a light on the simple ways in which we are connected and worthy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jeff Zentner has created something truly exceptional in THE SERPENT KING. It is a story filled with beauty and pain, darkness and light, love, faith, and ultimately, hope. This book took a hammer to my heart, and then put all the pieces back together again. Though I finished this book days ago, I haven't been able to stop thinking about Dill, Lydia, and Travis since--each of their stories has a special place in my soul, I suspect, forever. Gorgeously written, a pitch perfect portrait of what it feels like to not belong, to feel trapped in circumstances beyond one's control, and then...that boundless freedom that comes with love, bravery, and taking a risk on oneself. This is one of the most moving, haunting, and honest coming of age stories I've ever read. Recommended for...well, everyone! THE SERPENT KING goes directly to my favorites shelf, and I'll be very impatiently waiting to see what Jeff Zentner will do next!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Every once in a rare while a book comes along that you love so much that it feels like the words have wrapped themselves around your heart and squeezed and it's difficult to imagine that anyone else could ever possibly love it with as much ferocity as you do. At the same time it's even harder to imagine that anyone wouldn't. For me, this is such a book. I read The Serpent King in a constant state of near tears because it was so achingly beautiful, so poignant, and alive, and funny, and wise, and heartbreaking to the extent that it almost physically hurt to read it because I loved it so much. I underlined passages. I full on sobbed which almost never happens when I read. I was absolutely riveted and put aside everything else on my to-do list. I fell in love with the main characters who are so unique and fully formed-- created with such obvious heart and empathy that I felt genuine grief at the loss of them when the book was over. A gorgeous, unforgettable story for all ages about deep, saving friendships, the heartache of youth, and living your best life. Truly special and not to be missed. It's going to be a big one.
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
I seriously loved this novel! I loved the relationship between Travis, Dill and Lydia. Although they didn’t see eye-to-eye all the time, their relationship seemed genuine and they each brought something to the group that the others seemed to be lacking. It’s their last year of high school and they each see next year as a turning point. College is an opportunity but it’s not a feasible option if pressure or obligations are put into the mix. I loved the parent’s in this novel; I felt that they each had their own special characteristics that added energy and situations that influenced others around them. Dill’s parents thought Dill owed them, owed them his life for a debt his father chose to make. Lydia’s parents seemed to the most approachable but then not everyone is perfect. Travis’ dad, I can’t seem to find the right adjectives to accurately describe him. I really wanted to strangle him but why waste my energy. His father was about brawn and force while he guzzled his beer and slurred his words. When the history of The Serpent King is revealed, I thought of that as an added bonus, I loved that feature and I thought of Dill and what he had to have gone through. As a child, I thought of many weird and usual events that I had witnessed but nothing compared it to Dill’s. I loved the emotions in this novel, I was high and I was low, oh so high and oh, so low but the ride was definitely worth it! I noticed that I began to read this novel slowly for I dreaded what might happen or what I feared would transpire. The teens were looking out for one another but the world around them was swarming with activity. The novel is about dreams, the possibility that not everyone sees into the same future but that everyone has the same hopes and that believing in yourself and having someone love you for who are, does matter. This book was just amazing!! "Do you ever wonder how many springtimes you have left? We're seventeen now, so we get sixty-three more springtimes if we're lucky, like that?" (in proof copy) I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and Crown Books for Young Readers/Random House in exchange for an honest review.
MarisaR More than 1 year ago
Seamlessly switching POVs between three best friends--Dill, Lydia, and Travis--during their senior year of high school, The Serpent King is a thoughtful exploration of friendship and the ties that bind. Thick with Southern flavor, the setting is a character in itself and serves as the perfect backdrop for this heartfelt novel so full of emotion and heartbreak. Reading it is a cathartic experience. Remembering it… wait, let me get my tissues… will bring back all the feels. The Serpent King is a truly special book that will stay with me for a long time.
KathyMacMillan More than 1 year ago
The characters, especially Dill and Lydia, are people I wanted to hang out with long after I turned the last page. I loved the way this book showed three young people taking on the world in all its vibrantly hopefully and tragically unfair glory.