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Publisher's Summary

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 senses 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.

Includes the song "Birds Fly South", performed by the author and Elin Palmer.

©2016 Jeff Zentner (P)2016 Listening Library

Critic Reviews

"The Serpent King is a book you won't be able to resist or forget. The Southern boy in me savored every syllable and the reader in me fell in love with every page." (John Corey Whaley, National Book Award finalist and Printz Award winner)
"Zentner explores difficult themes head on - including the desire to escape the sins of the father and the fragility of happiness - while tempering them with the saving grace of enduring friendship." (Publishers Weekly)
"Zentner combines the melancholy of being 17 with the melancholy present in the best of Southern fiction and gives us a novel that will fill the infinite space that was left in your chest after you finished The Perks of Being a Wallflower." (BookRiot)

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Southern Honesty

This is the story about three young people who find a family in each other, at one of the most pivotal times of life. It is also a story about believing that we are all born with a gift. We can either chose to bravely accept it, or fearfully ignore it. It is a story about respecting the life that was given to you, and not being afraid to live it.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Justin
  • NEW PORT RICHEY, FLORIDA, United States
  • 03-31-16

Once and future king

I never expected a book to hit me this hard. I felt so close to the characters and cried with them. Excellent is doesn't even begin to tell you what I thought about this book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Well Done

A friend of mine recommended that I read this book, so I did the next best thing and listened to it. The trio of narrators did an excellent job. Each read chapters from a different character's view point and it worked out incredibly well.

Without spoiling anything, The Serpent King is a story about a young man who must overcome a lot to better himself and his family. Zentner does an excellent job of portraying the pressure from family to work full time and not go to college. As someone, that has experience working with low income first generation college students, this family pressure absolutely exists.

I highly recommend this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Cristine
  • Wellsville, UT, United States
  • 07-31-16

Spectacular!

This book is in the top three of all fiction I have listened too. The characters are real and personal, the story line is sensitive and deep, the overall experience is light and enjoyable. I was drawn back like a decadent dessert for bite after bite.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A modern, perfect coming of age story

Zentner perfectly encapsulates the experience of growing up in the South and wanting to escape small town life for something greater. His characters are realistically rendered and heart-wrenchingly relatable. Recommended for the misfit in all of us!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Good for YA audience

Good story with (3) interesting and sympathetic main characters. The narrators were good.
I appreciated that the story doesn't have a HEA ( happily ever after) ending.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Kate
  • Manila, Philippines
  • 05-28-16

Damn

Damn this book. Taught me a thing or two about simplicity in narrative. So good.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Fantastic

This is a well crafted story with emotional twists and entertaining turns. Zentner and The Serpent King portray relevant trials of high school seniors and beautifies life's fleeting moments.

  • Overall
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Well written and moving

A simple but powerful story about facing down our histories and forging our own futures

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Poignant. Haunting. Beautiful.

This is a most beautiful novel. Definitely a must-read. Zentner most obviously has a passion for writing.

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