Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Book Review: The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner (#RocTBF2016)



Alrighty! Speeding at a slow crawl through the author list of the Rochester Teen Book Festival. If you don't know about  my challenge to myself (to have read at least one book by each author who attends by at that date), links are below.


http://www.amazon.com/Serpent-King-Jeff-Zentner/dp/055352402X

"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."

Here's what I have to say about it:


The story in this book is told from the perspective of three friends. Dill is probably the one who is best suited to be called the main character. We hear the most of his life and from his point of view. Dillard is the son of a snake- handling preacher who has been incarcerated for child pornography. You just can't get a more straight- forward back story than that, right!? He can't live up to the fanatical expectations of his parents and can't live down the public ridicule. 

The second "main" character is Travis: a teen who dresses all in black, is obsessed with a fantasy novel series and lives mostly in his own head. #Relatable. His home life also sucks as evidenced by his sporadic bruising and jumpy nature. Oh. And he carries a staff, much to the chagrin of his chums.

And finally, we have Lydia. Lydia is internet famous and dreams of making in big and busting out of her bodunk town. Her parents are well- off and adoring. I love strong, independent girls with dreams, but Lydia is kind of an asshole. Her high aspirations make her a bit oblivious to the reality of those she's planning to leave behind, sometimes even those that she cares about.

OK. So, three teens on the brink of their adult lives, carrying their baggage and figuring out what they are going to do next, and what they mean to each other. We see a bit about how they met and there are flashbacks that help to flesh out their characters. Then there is a semi- tragedy. And then there is light and Lydia becomes less douch-ey. And then there is a major tragedy. And then I cried. But in a manly way, ya know.


It took me a bit of effort to get into this book. I think it was because I didn't care for Lydia and she obviously had to be the love interest of one of the boys. But then, you could see why people like her after a while. The ending is one of those stabs in the chest while standing in the sunshine kind of things. Like when Charlotte dies but the baby spiders are born. You know what I mean?


Related Post:
http://bookedupandbossy.blogspot.com/2016/04/RocTBF2016-update.html  http://bookedupandbossy.blogspot.com/search/label/Book%20Review

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