Review: The Serpent King, Jeff Zentner

Before heading into this, I want to thank Kat for convincing me to add this book to my TBR. I’m not going to thank her for the tears falling down my face while I was reading, obviously, in public. I have no idea why I insist on reading books I know are going to break me when there are people around, but that’s a whole other point here. The Serpent King is nothing like you think it’d be. I heard a couple of people thinking it was fantasy before heading into this, and, from the title only, I thought so too. But it’s a contemporary, one that solely relies on friendships, faith, hope, growing up, with a massive punch in the feels.



I read in a blogger’s review, I’m sorry I can’t remember who now, that it’s a β€œquiet” contemporary, and thought it was the perfect way to describe it. It’s the story of Dill, living with his mom, struggling to make ends meet, with a strong yet dark family history and a dad in prison. It’s also the story of story of Travis, bookish nerd who’d rather stay in the fantasy world he reads about in books than face his violent father. And it’s the story of Lydia, up-and-coming fashion blogger, with two wealthy parents. It’s the story of these three friends, with three different lives intertwining, and about to part and change with college coming up around the corner. For me, that book was slow to start with, and it took me a bit of time to grasp the world, even if it’s a contemporary, and the different characters. I’m guessing this is just me, and probably because I was too into the previous book I read to completely get immersed in the book in the first few chapters.



Told in alternative chapters, from Lydia, Dill and Travis’s point of view, it wasn’t too hard to recognize all the characters, because they were so different from each other. It’s one thing I loved about this book, how diverse it felt. Every character had a different background, family history, wealth, daily struggles with their parents and relatives…it felt to me like each character was well-built and thought of, which I really enjoyed, and helped me differentiate them right from the beginning. Obviously, I had my preferences and I have to say a massive THANK YOU to the author for making Lydia a fashion blogger. For making her things like β€œI can’t, I have to work on my blog tonight”. It made her even more relatable to me, ahah, and more endearing. Each character had their own personality, and I grew fond of each one, even if my little preference went to Lydia.
Friendship is obviously the biggest part of the book, even if it stretches, has its struggles, its misunderstanding, its share of tears and, yes, hidden feelings as well. I’m not going to lie and say there isn’t love in this book, but I thought that the biggest part of it all was the friendship between the trio, what bounded them together, these three people coming from different places, somehow fitting together perfectly.
Each relationship with the parents was also different. From wary to understanding, from scared to confidants, I loved how each was unique and well-thought. I’ll never say it enough, but it feels so good to see parents such a huge part of teenagers’ lives in a contemporary story. It’s just so realistic. Also, special mention to Lydia’s parents, and especially her dad. I loved him way too much.



Beware before reading, this story is heartbreaking as well. I’m not going to say why and how, because that’ll be spoilers, but I cried. I really did, it hurt. But despite their lives being filled with tragedy, there is also a lot of hope in there as well. The Serpent King is about growing up, about taking control of your own life, making your own choices despite the background you may come from, and despite not knowing what awaits for you next. It’s about following your guts. It’s a bit about having faith, as well. There is a bit of religion in this book, there is talk about God and faith, but it didn’t overshadow the story, nor did it make this a religious book of some kind. It was just the belief of some characters, and it just brought this something more to the story, this something more of realism I enjoyed.


Despite a bit of a slow start, The Serpent King offers a lot of surprises, you may or may not be ready to face. Filled with diversity, hope, heartbreak, faith and tragedy, it’s a delicious mix of it all, a silent book that yet screams out loud that you are here, and you can make something, you can make a move. You’re here, and you’re definining yourself.

Final rating:Β  4 drops !

Did you read The Serpent King? Did you enjoy it? Do you want to read it?

What was the last book that made you cry? Share your thoughts in comments!


Jeff Zentner, The Serpent King, Β Published by Crown Books For Young Readers, March 8th 2016.

Β goodreads-badge-add-plus-fad3b68d35050280ea55d50f17c654b5

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.

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. 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.

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Book blogger, travel blogger, writer. πŸ“š |🌍 | πŸ’ž Writing & Communications Graduate. French. Living on love, wanderlust and ya books.

90 thoughts on “Review: The Serpent King, Jeff Zentner

  1. You know what? I was not gonna read it. I mean, there’s SERPENT in the title!!!! I hate those beasts! But your review changed everything. So thank you and thanks to Kat for this. It sounds like The Serpent King is heavy on the character side, and for the best. Such a strong book deserves my attention! Fab review Sweechie!! ❀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Haha, ugh serpents are the worst creatures, I hate these as well. I thought it was fantasy at first, and I wanted to stay the hell away from this book. But then I read the synopsis and Kat’s review and it was NOTHING like I expected it to be. I hope you’ll read and enjoy it, my sweechie, and THANK YOU! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I read this and I HAVE FEELINGS. I loved this story so much, and the way that themes of family and friendship were woven through the unassuming narrative. ALSO MY TEARS WERE PROFUSE. This was probably the last book that made me cry, but I was severly unhappy as I read Anne’s House of Dreams this evening, though my tears weren’t quite spilling. Lovely review, Marie!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This sounds like a fantastic book! I’ve seen it on Goodreads a lot (I actually thought it was fantasy :P) but never read the summary. I love when books have bloggers in them πŸ˜‰ Always looking forward to reading more diverse books so I will check this out πŸ˜€
    Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I bought this book quite some while ago and have been meaning to read it ever since. I know I will love it and your review made me even more sure of that. But I’ve been reading a love of books that toy with my feelings in a row hahah I should probably give them a break and read Something fluffy for a change but well :p
    Wonderful review my twinnie ❀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I hadn’t heard of this book before now. This is a lovely review! I like that you call out the slower pace but the intense relationships. I believe we need more of that in literature. While this sounds awesome, I think I need something with a bit more pep and uplifting themes right now, but it’s going on the TBR!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think I teared up in your review as well, Marie. Haha. Alright, I’m picking up The Serpent King asap. I’m crossing my fingers that once I get my allowance back, there’s a copy waiting for me at the nearest bookstore. I will read it, and that’s a promise. Your review has inspired me to do so. ❀

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great review, Marie! I’ve seen this book around but haven’t yet the chance to pick it up, but the characters sound absolutely amazing and I love what you said about them dealing with different things – that’s very realistic, I think, and I do enjoy those “quiet” contemporaries. I’ll definitely be picking this up now, thanks for the push. ❀

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is the first review I’ve read for this book and I have to admit until now I thought it was a fantasy because of the title too πŸ˜‚. It’s interesting to hear that it’s actually a contemporary. It sounds like one that is right up my street too! I love friendships in books and the parent aspect. Plus, I’m a sucker for a good heartbreaking story. I’m definitely adding this to my TBR. Great review! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  9. YES TO EVERYTHING HERE, ESPECIALLY THE PART WHERE WE ARE ALL CRYING TOGETHER BECAUSE THAT WAS ME TOO. πŸ’” I loved it, but it also ruined me???? Eeep. The characters were all so so precious and honestly I couldn’t find a thing I didn’t absolutely adore about it. LYDIA WAS AMAZING. Also can she please tell us how she got so famous. Tips welcome.πŸ˜‚ And Dill. ❀ I loved Dill and I LOVED Travis' totally relatable fantasy nerdom. And the writing just totally sucked me in and just faksdjlad. Your review is so wonderful and captures a lot of my thoughts as well!!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This sounds like an amazing book Marie. I’ve seen this one around before but I was never sure about it, I don’t think I ever read the blurb before now so I was never sure what it was actually about, but your review is brilliant and it’s definitely convinced me I need to add this book to my to-read list and get started ASAP! I already love the sound of the characters and their individual stories, I’m excited to hear more about Lydia and her fashion blog! πŸ˜€ Also now I know it’s a little heartbreaking maybe that will help as I’m reading it (I doubt it but you never know!)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. YAY! I am super glad you loved this and I regret nothing in pushing you to read it, even if it destroyed your feels. I cried too, I think it was even during lunch with my parents. They were worried about me hahaha Noooow … you haven’t read A Monster Calls yet, have you? No, just kidding. What’s next on your reading list?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I am such a wimp, I get scared of really emotional books.

    Everything makes me cry, so I can’t even remember. I just read this book called After Alice and there was a passage in that that made me wimpy. It wasn’t even especially emotional – it just hit WAY too close to home for me I think, haha.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. It was on sale the other day, so I totally nabbed it. My librarian receommended it (the one at the youth desk)…she’s so awesome bc she lets me pick books to order and she puts holds on the new ones for me. So I trust your opinion and hers!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’ve seen this book floating around the bookosphere and the whole entire time, I always imagined it to be a fantasy! Haha it sounds so different to what I had previously imagined but so much more great as well! The blogger aspect? SO ON POINT because the inability to commit to some plans to blog is on point! As well as that, I love that the parents are actively part of the story, I love so much when that occurs and it has this book boosting up points! Added to my TBR because this review was as amazing as they always are!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’ve heard so many positive things about this book, chief among them is the fact that it makes people cry a river! I’m glad you enjoyed this book though Marie, and that it moved you so much.

    I’ve yet to read it – I had the opportunity to read it because it was available at my library, but I was swamped with other books at the time and didn’t. When I went back to the library yesterday, it wasn’t there. πŸ˜‚ Gah!! I shall make sure I read this. Maybe I’ll send you my feels when I finish it? 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YES, it is such a moving book, I didn’t expect it to make me cry, but it did. Also it felt great to read something with SO much friendship and family being a great part of the story.
      Haha, I hope it’ll come back to the library soon so you can read it! I’d love to know what you think about it! πŸ™‚


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