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The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

The Serpent KingThe Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I thought it wouldn’t gut me as bad the second time through. But it did.

11 stars and a moon. Such a beautiful and well-written story.

Book 347 read in 2018

Pages: 384

This book arrived in my March 2016 OwlCrate Box, and I’m pleased it did. Otherwise, I might not have been aware of it or gotten around to reading it for months, or even years. This story is just too good to ignore for that long.

Dill lives in a small town, in the bible belt, and everything sucks. He’s the only child of a Pentecostal minister who has been imprisoned–no, not for handling dangerous snakes or making his congregation drink poison to show their faith, but for possessing pornographic materials depicting minors–and a religious fanatic mother who blames Dill for the family’s hardships, severe debt, and poverty. Dill’s Dad is notorious, and both the ex-church community and the local community are equal parts angry, ignorant, scared, and judgmental.

The beautiful part of this story is that Dill has two very unexpected friends, and the three of them together make this one of the most interesting, lovable, and heartbreaking contemporary novels I’ve read all year (and in case that doesn’t sound convincing, I’ve read 118 books so far this year, almost all YA).

It’s told in 3 POVs, including Dill, and his two friends, Travis and Lydia. Each has a unique voice and different perspectives on life, their small town, and what the future holds.

I love these characters, and I wish I could have known them when I was 17. I love this story, and it left all my edges raw and frayed. I love the writing, because the way Jeff Zenter builds a story, sculpts the setting, and makes you understand and fall in love with the characters in just a page, a sentence, or even a word, is incredible. It’s also different from almost everything else I’ve read so far this year.

This book gets 5 stars on Goodreads and Amazon, but it’s 10 stars in my heart.

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