Amazon Editors' YA Book Club discussion

The Serpent King
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July 2016 > The Serpent King

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message 1: by Seira (new)

Seira Wilson | 92 comments Mod
Something new and different this month! Thanks to everyone who voted, this novel has a LOT to talk about so looking forward to getting started...


Alicia | 40 comments Seira wrote: "Something new and different this month! Thanks to everyone who voted, this novel has a LOT to talk about so looking forward to getting started..."
Thank you, Seira.


Jennifer | 9 comments This is one of my favorite books this year!


message 4: by Seira (new)

Seira Wilson | 92 comments Mod
Author Jeff Zentner has agreed to answer some of our questions, so as you're reading or when you've finished, add them to the discussion folder for his Q&A and I'll submit them. We have until July 24th. I'll post his answers the following week. Thanks, hope you are enjoying this one!


Alicia | 40 comments Seira wrote: "Author Jeff Zentner has agreed to answer some of our questions, so as you're reading or when you've finished, add them to the discussion folder for his Q&A and I'll submit them. We have until July ..."

My question for the author is whether or not the topic of the afterlife as presented in this book after Travis dies is a reflection of his (the author's) personal/religious views.

Thanks, Seira. I finished this book last week,and just loved it. I am very, very stingy with my rating stars, and this was definitely a 5.


Jennifer (jlynnhernandez) | 11 comments Thanks, Siera and the group for introducing me to this book. I would've never read this book on my own choosing. It's just not something I would've picked up--a coming-of-age story in rural Tennessee.

I really did like the Travis character. Interestingly, unlike most books, the middle act was the best part. It was so smooth, engaging and interesting.

But then it dipped to a plateau for the third act for me. Wonderful writing overall, and the reader is thoroughly immersed in each character. The text speak was well done, imo.


Kathleen I"m pleased that we chose The Serpent King for this month's book because I would not have otherwise read it, and I'm glad I did.

The Serpent King is a first novel. There is more about faith and God in it than most YA novels. That is the part that works. Most readers know little about snake handling and Zentner makes it interesting. Dill and Travis are well developed characters. It is Lydia who is the problem in the book. Her fashion blog and success do not ring true and it is surprising that she does not have local girl friends – girls who want to hang around her because of her success and share in the goodies she often receives. The New York friends feel fake and unreal. Lydia is surprisingly manipulative. Unfortunately she feels almost like an alien in the story. Zentner wants her to be different, to not fit in with her rural community. He succeeded, but this alien Lydia weakens the plot.


message 8: by Jennifer (last edited Jul 27, 2016 10:16PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jennifer (jlynnhernandez) | 11 comments Kathleen wrote: "I"m pleased that we chose The Serpent King for this month's book because I would not have otherwise read it, and I'm glad I did.

The Serpent King is a first novel. There is more about faith and G..."


Hi Kathleen, i initially felt it was strange for Lydia not to be popular what with her blog and success; however, I felt Zentner stressed rather well the workings of small town jealousy and narrow-mindedness that led to her ostracization. I get the sense girls did try to be her friend only because of her success and they were the fake ones and she knew it and rejected those overtures. No, it doesn't say that per se, but it seems like it could've happened.

I thought Lydia was a well-crafted and believable female from a male author, especially for a first time author. She wasnt a perfect person, and to me that made it more believable. But, in book with two other male main characters, written by a male, she was the glue that held everything together instead of being a by-product or minor character. Refreshing.


Alicia | 40 comments Agreed, Jennifer. What I noted about Lydia was the overall contradiction between her as a victim of homophobia in that small town, and her possible role as a mother figure, nurturing of sorts, and, as you stated: "the glue that held everything together." That conflict didn't strike me, really, until I read your comment!


Jennifer (jlynnhernandez) | 11 comments Alicia wrote: "Agreed, Jennifer. What I noted about Lydia was the overall contradiction between her as a victim of homophobia in that small town, and her possible role as a mother figure, nurturing of sorts, and,..."

Thanks, Alicia and yes, I'd forgotten about the homophobia. Good catch on noticing the conflict and contradiction between all the roles she had! A very complex character indeed.


Kathleen Thanks for the good Lydia comments.

Another book about a church and snake handling is A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash, which takes place in North Carolina.


message 12: by Seira (new)

Seira Wilson | 92 comments Mod
I was talking to someone else in the office who read this and it bothered her that there wasn't more resolution around Dill's father's crime. It didn't bother me that Zentner didn't get into it, though I did ask him why he gave Dill's father such a provocative crime but then didn't really pursue it--we'll see what he says when I get our Q&A back... Did this bother anyone else?


Alicia | 40 comments Seira wrote: "I was talking to someone else in the office who read this and it bothered her that there wasn't more resolution around Dill's father's crime. It didn't bother me that Zentner didn't get into it, th..."

Seira, Lack of resolve did not bother me. The crime itself was enough to show me his fabric. But maybe there's a reason for the author's omission, and now I'm curious about that!


Jennifer (jlynnhernandez) | 11 comments Seira wrote: "I was talking to someone else in the office who read this and it bothered her that there wasn't more resolution around Dill's father's crime. It didn't bother me that Zentner didn't get into it, th..."

Great question! I'd like to see the answer. I think I did want a little more resolution too about his father's crime, but i was okay with settling for the dynamics between father and son, which was the main crux of Dill's storyline, imo. Their climatic scene together was ok too. Albeit i thought the third act was a plateau of sorts.


Jennifer (jlynnhernandez) | 11 comments Kathleen wrote: "Thanks for the good Lydia comments.

Another book about a church and snake handling is A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash, which takes place in North Carolina."


Hi again Kathleen. Thank you for the book rec. I'll look onto it. My TBR keeps growing no matter how much I try to weedwhack it down! Lol. I forgot to mention, I was a little suspicious of her NY friends, too. Travis' long distance friendship was more believable. Maybe because it was juxtaposed with Lydia's we felt that it was too superficial. Cheers!


Kathleen Seira wrote: "I was talking to someone else in the office who read this and it bothered her that there wasn't more resolution around Dill's father's crime. It didn't bother me that Zentner didn't get into it, th..."

Well, I rather like books that don't tie up every thread with a pink bow.

We didn't mention much about Travis. I was saddened about his death, but it fit into the story.

This book takes place on the Plateau, a high and beautiful area in Tennessee, many miles east of Nashville. The town is fictional.


message 17: by Ally (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ally Goodwin | 9 comments I came to the table late this month. I hadn't heard of the book and it was so interesting I finished it in a day and a half. I too was surprised with the death of Travis and yet it fits. I don't think the other two would have gotten together i Travis had lived. I think his death spurred them on -- recognizing that we don't know how much time we have.

Enjoyed the book tremendously


Jennifer (jlynnhernandez) | 11 comments Hello Ally, good input about Travis' death. I hadn't thought about it, but it was the impetus for Dill to grow in his character arc. I dunno about Lydia's as much, but without Travis dying, Dill may never had cause to confront his father, and leave the town. Sad, but most likely true.


Sarah (sarahslab) | 1 comments There is going to be a Twitter chat about this book with the author if anyone is interested...the chat is on August 11th and the hashtag is #2jennsbookclub 8pm est


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