C.G. Drews's Reviews > The Serpent King

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
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's review
Oct 24, 2016

it was amazing
bookshelves: 5-star, best-of-2016, contemporary, mental-illness, read-2016, young-adult

THERE ARE NO WORDS TO DESCRIBE HOW FREAKING AMAZING THIS BOOK IS AND HOW MUCH I ADORE IT. Well, wait. I will use words. Psychotic words most likely BUT WORDS because omg I loved this book so much. It is gut-wrenching and precious and inspiring and hopeful and balances darkness and hope using some of the best storytelling I've experienced in a long time. There is not enough FLAILING in the world for how much I want to FLAIL RIGHT NOW.

Shout out to this book for existing! Shout out to it for smashing my heart and then being so inspiring I think I need to go eat a planet in celebration.

It's basically a story of survival and friendship in a backwards country town. It's narrated by three teens, Dill, Lydia, and Travis and usually I don't like that many POVs. bUt omg. Each person was complex and interesting and loveable and heartbreaking. I love love loved them all. LIKE DON'T EVEN ASK ME TO CHOOSE A FAVOURITE.

• DILL: he's the son of a preacher who's just been imprisoned for sexual charges and EVERYBODY knows Dill and is disgusted by him. Tiny town, remember? Country hicks = not very forgiving. His mother hates him, school is hell, he's got NO FUTURE because he's stuck in this town and his best friend Lydia is leaving for college and basically ajfdkaslfda he was tragic and adorable and quiet and nearly broken and I couldn't love him more. He DOES lash out irrationally with passive-aggressive arguments with Lydia. But I get it?!? When you face losing someone, sometimes you push them away first to help dull the pain. BUT IT JUST MADE ME LOVE HIM MORE. Plus he's musical!! Composes!! BLESS THIS BOOK!!
• LYDIA: she's a super famous fashion blogger and only 17 #NoImNotJealousHaHaHa. And she's fashionable, super sassy, epically fabulous, definitely not skinny, and has a future of success paved out before her. Plus she has the mOST EPIC PARENT-DAUGHTER RELATIONSHIP EVER. The banter with the parents was so spot on!! Omg!! I love how she as flawed and flawless. Trust me, it works. She was a go-getter, but also a dreamer, and her two best-friends were dorks, which automatically means she's a glorious person. Also sorry not sorry but I 100% imagined her as Lydia from Teen Wolf.
• TRAVIS: He was the most adorable dork to ever dork in the universe. He's OBSESSED with fantasy, specifically this trilogy which he can't stop talking about. He's big and kind and unassuming and just downright lovely. Books about lovely boys need to be more of a thing. And he starts writing and just ajfdsakfd I LOVED TRAVIS AND HE WAS SO PRECIOUS AND PERFECT. He had the most horrible dad who abused him and it broke me. 3 He reminded me of Adam from The Raven Boys but no bitterness, just 100% gorgeous personality despite his horrible homelife.

HOW ARE THESE CHARACTERS ALL SO PRECIOUS???? I can't get over the fact that they felt so REAL. I didn't want to ever stop reading this book. And this is only the author's debut?? Sign me up to read anything by Jeff Zentner ever.

Did I mention the writing?!? Flawless. It was heavily dialogue centred and balanced the most HILARIOUS humour ever with purely poignant scenes with words I never want to stop thinking about. But seriously, I laughed out loud several times. HONKED, ACTUALLY. And my dog looked displeased. And any story about three best friends making the best out of bad situations is the kind of story I'm infinitely in love with. It described everything SO WELL. And the contrast?!? Like Lydia's rich family as opposed to Travis' cruel father as opposed to Dill's dying house of poison??? I CAN'T GET OVER HOW VISUALLY AMAZING IT WAS. And heartbreaking. Like, dude. Break my heart. Walk all over it. I don't even mind obviously.

There are religious tones in it too, which concerned me at first....but turned out okay. Like I just avoid religious books avidly. And I don't even know WHAT kind of "Christian" believes in handling snakes and drinking poison but...okay then. But like it didn't slam religion?? It slammed religion that damages people and it laid out how wrong it is to ruin people's lives because of your "religious beliefs". But I just really like how it was all handled. And Dill's father was totally insane. Just sayin'. Please don't touch snakes, kids. DO NOT.

Also it really tackles mental illness and it does so flawlessly. Like depression? This is the kind of book that gets depression 100% right. (view spoiler)

AND IT BROKE ME INTO A MILLION PIECES. As all the good books do, obviously. But seriously, one minute I was laughing and the next I HAD NO AIR.

ALL IN ALL: this books is incredible and everyone everywhere should read it. Immediately. Like gooooooo. This is one of the BEST BOOKS I'VE READ THIS YEAR. I'm not crying, you're crying. It totally stole a piece of my soul and I'm totally okay with that. It was brutal and hopeful which is a combination I want to see more in books. The writing = perfect. The characters = my new best friends. My heart = A MESS.


----- QUOTES ------

Lydia set down her phone and began typing a post about the road trip to Nashville, shopping at Attic, and some thoughts on the first day of school. She got stuck and began looking for ways to procrastinate.


"And anyway, how is a coffee shop Christian?"
"It implies that normal coffee shops are satanic."
"Which they totally are. It's like, can I please just get a cup of coffee without having to kneel before Lucifer and pledge my eternal soul?"
"Here's your latte. Will that be cash, credit, or the blood of a virgin?"

"I had no idea those books meant that much to you, Travis," Lydia murmured. "Now I feel bad about making all those Bloodfall jokes."
"Does this mean you'll read them?"

"I mean, it's not like she doesn't like anything. It just has to be Christian. Really Christian," Dill said.
"Like the Bible barely makes the cut because Christ is only in the second half," Lydia said.
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Quotes C.G. Liked

Jeff Zentner
“If you're going to live, you might as well do painful, brave, and beautiful things.”
Jeff Zentner, The Serpent King

Reading Progress

December 22, 2015 – Shelved
December 22, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
October 23, 2016 – Started Reading
October 23, 2016 –
page 100
26.04% ""And anyway, how is a coffee shop Christian?"\n"It implies that normal coffee shops are satanic."\n"Which they totally are. It's like, can I please just get a cup of coffee without having to kneel before Lucifer and pledge my eternal soul?"\n"Here's your latte. Will that be cash, credit, or the blood of a virgin?"\n\nYEAH OKAY THIS BOOK IS THE BEST."
October 23, 2016 –
page 234
60.94% "This book is giving me so many feels I SHALL EXPLODE PRESENTLY."
October 24, 2016 –
page 293
October 24, 2016 – Shelved as: 5-star
October 24, 2016 – Shelved as: best-of-2016
October 24, 2016 – Shelved as: contemporary
October 24, 2016 – Shelved as: mental-illness
October 24, 2016 – Shelved as: read-2016
October 24, 2016 – Shelved as: young-adult
October 24, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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Bee {Quite the Novel Idea} AHHHHH I'm all the happy right now Cait! And I hate to say it (no i don't) but I TOLD YOU IT WAS AMAZING. I TOLD YOU SO. And now we can squeal and shriek together. <3

Emily (theBookishLounge) Ahaha I love this review Cait!! I've been ignoring this book on my feed but with the amount of flailing and shoutiness in this review, I'm pretty convinced to try it now :D

Samantha (WLABB) Love, love, love this review! I adored this book, and want everyone to read it!


@Emily: you muuuuuust read it. jOIN ME IN THE GLORY AND PAIN.

@Sam: It was fjadklsfads so perfect. And completely underrated!!

message 5: by Paloma (new) - added it

Paloma I have this book by my bed, now I must pick it up and read it! Sounds fantastic!

message 6: by Andrea (new)

Andrea You've convinced me! Thanks

Jaimi Rachelle Okay. This sounds spectacular. *climbs through computer screen to snatch book to devour*

Emily Mead TOLDDDDDD YOUUUUUUU (yes I have to say it again)

message 9: by ClaireEva (new)

ClaireEva I revived this book in one of my book boxes and it's kind of just sat there because I didn't think it sounded that great but your review makes me want to read it!

ilsa ➹ LYDIA AND DILL, TRAVIS, (And TRAVIS, I cried...wel not literally but) AND OMG I LOVED IT TOO. Cait, i read this book because of your fangirling and I'm sooo glad I did. It was beautiful and wonderful and THANK YOU

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