Title: The Serpent King
Author: Jeff Zentner
Page Count: 369
The Serpent King follows three characters who are going into their senior year of high school. Dill is having a hard time because his father, who was a preacher, is in prison for child pornography and the kids at school will never let him forget who he is. He shares his name with his father, who is known for handling poisonous snakes during church sermons. Now, he carries the burden of his family’s debts and his mom wants him to drop out of school to work full time. When he mentions going to college to get a better paying job, his mom absolutely refuses. He also has a crush on his best friend Lydia. Lydia is a popular fashion blogger with over 100,000 followers on her Twitter and Instagram. She wants to get out of Forrestville, TN and attend school at NYU. But she’s determined to convince Dill to get out of their home town and do something with his life. Travis is their other best friend and he has a rough home life. His dad wants him to try out for football and make him proud but Travis isn’t into that. He loves fantasy novels and he engages in online forums, where fans talk about these books. He meets a girl, Amelia, on these forums and they text quite a bit. The three of them are best friends and when a tragedy hits them, they must learn to keep their heads up and continue with their goals.
I didn’t absolutely hate this book, but I didn’t like it. Lydia is my least favorite character. She comes across as selfish and snobby. She can’t wait to leave their home town and she tells Dill and Travis all the time. She has a popular blog but she never once mentions her two best friends on there. In fact, she writes that she has no friends at all. Dill reads her blog and when he sees that he gets frustrated and confronts her. She basically tells him that he needs to get over it. She is just not the ideal friend, in my opinion. Also, Dill confronts several times about leaving for NYU. He wants her to stay which is completely normal since they are best friends, and Lydia just handles it wrong. She doesn’t sympathize with him and I think she should try to look at the situation from his point of view. She says she’s leaving and she doesn’t want to consider staying at all. And again, I understand that she wants to leave, but c’mon! He’s your best friend, try to be nice about it at least. Travis was my favorite character from the story. He was actually the only character that I enjoyed reading about. I picture him as this big huggable teddy bear who is also a nerd. And that’s not a bad thing. Something happens in the story that a lot of reviewers have said made them cry, but not for me. My eyes may have glossed over, but no tears were shed. I guess I just didn’t care for the story or the characters enough. Dill has such a hard life with his father in prison and his parents blame him for it. I grew up in Pentecostal churches and reading about this was not at all how I grew up. I had no idea about the snakes and I actually had to google if that was a real thing. And it is! It’s a rare and century old practice so maybe that’s why I never heard of it but I was expecting to connect with this story and I did the complete opposite.
I have the unpopular opinion here because most of the reviews on Goodreads are raving, so maybe just pick this one up for yourself and decide. I get the message that book is trying to perceive and I think it is a great message but the story line wasn’t strong enough. It wasn’t for me, unfortunately.