The Serpent King

Finished The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner.

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.

He and his fellow outcast friends must try to make it through their senior year of high school without letting the small-town culture destroy their creative spirits and sense of self. Graduation will lead to new beginnings for Lydia, whose edgy fashion blog is her ticket out of their rural Tennessee town. And Travis is content where he is thanks to his obsession with an epic book series and the fangirl turning his reality into real-life fantasy.

Their diverging paths could mean the end of their friendship. But not before Dill confronts his dark legacy to attempt to find a way into the light of a future worth living.”

Oh, this book.  This sweet, amazing, heartbreaking, surprising book.  There is going to be a spoiler in the last paragraph, because this book broke me and I would like to warn you because someone should’ve warned me.  But it’s not until the last paragraph, so really all you need to know is that this book is amazing and you need to read it.

I think most people understand how it feels to be trapped in their hometown (that’s not just me, right?) and as hard as it was for me, it’s a billion times worse for Lydia but especially for her two best friends, Dill and Travis.  All three of them face challenges that people shouldn’t have to face, and I loved and cheered for all three of them.  I wanted them all to find their happy endings (which, as teenagers, should really be happy beginnings someplace else, far away from that stupid town).

This is the kind of book that wormed its way inside my heart, making me so invested in the three of them and I had so many visceral reactions to the book and events in it, probably more than any one book I’ve ever read before.

Highly recommended.

And the spoiler? One of the three narrators dies.  And it’s shocking and unexpected and senseless and I spent the rest of the book crying.  I wish I had been warned, but we’re never warned, are we?

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