ARC Review: The Serpent King
The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
Expected Publication Date: March 8th, 2016
Format/Source: ARC, borrowed from Stefani @ Caught Read Handed. Thank you!
Rating: 5/5 stars
Part of a series? No
I signed up for the ARC tour of The Serpent King knowing very little about it. I thought, “OOH, contemporary YA about small town life! Sign me up”. There was no way I could have anticipated how much I would love it and how much reading it would affect me. This book is a wild ride.
The novel is told from the points of view of the three main characters, Dill, Lydia, and Travis. Each of the characters is unique and feels important, and they have chemistry and love each other. (Have you ever read a book where one of the characters just felt off? Like they were an afterthought? Yeah, not the case here.)
Lydia is a popular fashion blogger that prefers books and blogging to people her own age. She's sassy and has many platonic crushes on people she wants to be friends with. #Relatable. She also knows exactly what she wants to do after high school and can't wait to get out of their town. Dill, on the other hand, doesn't know what to do with his life after high school, and he struggles with his family and his religion. He doesn't know if he should choose to stay with his family or go off to college. Travis prefers to be stuck in a fantasy world because his home situation is awful. They're all very different, but they work as friends, and I fell in love with all three of them.
The Serpent King hits on so many points that really resonated with me. The most prominent being that Lydia is both strong and soft, which was important to me because so often, the two are thought of as exclusive of each other. Zentner also nailed the longing to be better and to figure yourself out and to stop being afraid that is such an overwhelming feeling within teenagers. One that I myself have been struggling with a lot as the college application process gets closer.
The last thing that I felt was handled really well was the grieving process. Zentner illustrated that people grieve in different ways, and he also portrayed how important medication and therapy can be when you're dealing with a loss or a mental illness like depression. They're often shown in a negative light, but medications and counsellors can truly help people.
The Serpent King is a beautiful, unique debut about love, loss, and self-discovery. I laughed, I cried, and I just plain loved this book even as it was breaking my heart. I highly recommend it. Find it in stores and online March 8th!