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Review: The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Title: The Serpent King
Author: Jeff Zentner
Year Published: 2016

Genre: YA Fiction 
Pages: 369
Rating: 5 out of 5

Location (my 2017 Google Reading map)USA (TN)

FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school library

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Dill has had to wrestling 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 f 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.

Review: I heard very good things about this book and it won the 2017 William C Morris Award for a first YA novel by an author. Can I say "wow!"? I totally get why this one won the award; it is fabulous.

I love the characters in this book and know they are going to stay with me for a long time. Dill is someone you just want to hug to make things better, but he is so tied to his dad's reputation (his dad is in prison for unseemly acts) that he is having trouble seeing himself. Lydia is so busy being the person she is on her fashion blog that she can't see what is right in front of her. And Travis is the gentle giant that I want to whisk away from his family and show him how great he is. But they have to figure these things out on their own.

I was pulled into the town of Forrestville, Tennessee from page one and think Jeff Zentner did a wonderful job of helping the reader to really feel the town and all its issues as well as its positive impact on the characters. I highly recommend this book!

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