|The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner|
pub 3/8/16 by Crown Books
for Young Readers
YA - Contemporary
Dill, Lydia and Travis are unique souls, trying to figure who they are in a small town along the Bible belt. In another person’s hands, they could’ve easily become caricatures but Zentner makes them feel heartbreakingly real from the start. There’s Dill who’s dealing with the aftermath of his father’s fall from grace (he’s a Pentecostal minister & prominent figure) and how the community reacts. He’s afraid of following in his footsteps and of being stuck in this town forever. Then there are his best friends Lydia and Travis. Lydia is a city girl at heart, with lofty aspirations and an edgy fashion blog helping her get there. But what she does love about home are Dill, Travis and her parents. Likewise for Travis, it’s their friendship that keeps him afloat, along with his love of fantasy books (!) and an online community who understands his inner fanboy. It sounds like their friendship shouldn’t make sense but it does and their bond was easily my favorite thing about the book.
But what makes the book stand out is how it delves into so many different, important themes seamlessly. There’s religion and the fanaticism that can rise up from it, small town mentalities, friendship, love, messy families, online communities, the future and wanting more for yourself. I personally haven’t read a contemporary like it and I’m so glad I decided to read it.
Do I recommend?Yes! Honestly, don’t even read the synopsis or debate. Just go out and borrow/buy the book.