Book #40: The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

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.

The only antidote to all this venom is his friendship with fellow outcasts Travis and Lydia. But as they are starting their senior year, Dill feels the coils of his future tightening around him. The end of high school will lead to new beginnings for Lydia, whose edgy fashion blog is her ticket out of their rural Tennessee town. And Travis is happy wherever he is thanks to his obsession with the epic book series Bloodfall and the fangirl who may be turning his harsh reality into real-life fantasy. Dill’s only escapes are his 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.

In the beginning, I was unsure about reading this book, but it was voted by the members of my book club and I am trying to be more active in the discussions. That said, I was surprised by this book.

Contemporary isn’t my go to. I am more of a fantasy, horror, or mystery and thriller kind of girl. Contemporary I usually use as a palette cleanser and those are usually romance. I have been reading contemporary more recently because of the book club, which isn’t bad at all.

This isn’t my normal contemporary. It is a coming-of-age type story about a boy and his friends set in a rural small town. Coming-of-age isn’t usually my thing. They are usually just a slice of life situation with just a little bit of things going on. They tend to be boring.

That said, this book was enjoyable. I wouldn’t say completely memorable, but it wasn’t a bad read. I would read the author again.

Final Rating: 3/5


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