The Serpent King By Jeff Zentner

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Goodreads Synopsis: 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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I was unsure about this book from the start, since I tend to be wary of books with christian themes and or characters. But this book did end up being a 4 star book for me, though I still had mixed feelings even at the end.

I knew this would be an emotional read, and it definitely was. Dill’s character is realistic and easy to sympathize with. I related a lot to his struggle to become his own person, even if it meant hurting people he loved. He’s stuck trying between trying to do what will make him happy (and ultimately be healthier for him) and what his parents want him to do.   This is one of those books where it’s very easy to hate all of the antagonistic characters.  Both of his parents are terrible people, and it was hard to read at times because I can’t understand how people can be so disgusting to their own children.

Thankfully there were ups to the book. Dill has two friends who do their best to help and support him. Travis, his best friend, is literally this sweetest, funniest kid ever. I loved his friendship with Dill.  Lisa, the other friend, I actually hated. She was selfish, self-centered and spoiled.  Her story-line was hard to get through because I couldn’t sympathize.

I felt like The Serpent King ends in a fair place. In this sort of a story there’s no way you can have a 100% happy ending, and in the end Dill takes control of his life.

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