Ahoy there mateys!
the serpent king (Jeff Zentner)
This was a fantastic young adult book recommended multiple times by fellow blogger bookwormanic. It tells the tale of three teenage kids’ senior year living in a rural Tennessee town, told from their respective perspectives. I found this book to be hauntingly moving, realistic, and heartbreaking. It has been a while since I was so very mesmerized by a novel. I read the book and my world faded away to be replaced by the stories of Dill, Lydia, and Travis.
While Dill seemed to get the majority of the attention in the novel, I loved all three characters. Their friendships are filled with so much love and yet they keep secrets from each other and struggle at times. Also all three of their viewpoints felt so distinct and well developed. I also enjoyed all of the adults who were the secondary characters. It was nice to have a range of adults in a young adult novel whose characters were developed and added to the story. Of course not all adults were nice but they certainly seemed multi-faceted.
Also despite being a young adult novel, Dill, Lydia, and Travis are not superheroes and do not easily solve their challenges. The novel also acknowledges that parents can and do sometimes help and that asking for help is okay. All three teens had realistic responses to what they were going through. And those included some extremely hard challenges of abuse, poverty, being school outcasts, bullying and a variety of other life changes. This book also acknowledges that high school, while it can be tough, is not the end of a person’s life.
So many young adult books seem to suggest that high school is both the best time of your life and will determine your very future. Perhaps for some. And there is no doubt those are formative years. But life does go on after high school and the period after high school is usually a time of major change. The author handled these issues seemingly with grace and understanding. I highly recommend this complex and lovely novel.
Amazon has this to say about the novel:
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.
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