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The Serpent King
Author: Zentner, Jeff
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers Parent Publisher: Crown
Age: 14-19  Grade: 9-12  LC: PZ7.1 
ISBN-10: 055352402X  ISBN-13: 9780553524024  Brodart No: 113137605 
Language: English 
Demand: Hot 
Pub Date: 03/08/2016
Availability: Available
List: $17.99
Physical Description: 372 pages ; 22 cm LCCN: 2014044883 
LC Series:
Brodart Sources: Brodart's For Youth Interest Titles
Brodart's For Youth Interest: Popular
Brodart's Insight Catalog: Teen
Brodart's TOP Young Adult Titles
Bibliographies: Best Children's Books of the Year
Florida Teens Read Award Book lists
Texas Tayshas Reading List
Starred Reviews: Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly
Awards: BCCB Starred Reviews 
Best Fiction for Young Adults 
Horn Book Guide Titles, Rated 1 - 4 
Indies Choice/E.B. White Read-Aloud Book Award Winners and Honors 
Kirkus Best Books 
Kirkus Books of Special Note 
New York Times Notable Books 
Publishers Weekly Annual Best Books Selections 
Publishers Weekly Starred Reviews 
Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers 
School Library Journal Popular Picks 
William C. Morris Young Adult Debut Award 
Young Adults' Choices Reading List 
TIPS Subjects: Social Issues
SEARS Subjects: Self-realization, Fiction
LC Subjects: Country life, Fiction
Friendship, Fiction
Self-actualization (Psychology), Fiction
Self-actualization (Psychology), Juvenile fiction
Reading Programs: Accelerated Reader Level: 4.4, Points: 11.0
Lexile Level: 630
Reading Counts Level: 5.3, Points: 19.0
Brodart's TOP Young Adult Titles | 03/01/2016
Dill leads a rough life as the son of a Pentecostal minister and the victim of bullies who target him because of his family life. But he has found refuge in a group of misfit friends who help one another navigate their senior year in hopes of finding bright futures for themselves. Debut Novel, 384pp.
 Starred Reviews:
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books | 03/01/2016
R. Gr. 9-12. Fellow outsiders Dill, Travis, and Lydia have been navigating the waters of small-town Tennessee life together; but now, with senior year looming, the future is uncertain. Lydia has been planning her escape for years, but she now worries that a new start in New York City might mean turning her back on her friends. Travis knows he'll never leave, but he finds escape in a series of epic fantasy novels and hope in an online friendship with a fellow fan. Dill fears he has no future at all: struggling against a family legacy of madness, the lingering aftermath of his serpent-wielding preacher father's arrest, and his Pentecostal mother's relentless preaching, he can only despair as his friends hope and plan. Then unexpected tragedy hits, and Dill's already shaken world goes into a tailspin, forcing him to decide if he'll give in to the darkness for good or find his way toward the light on his own terms. With chapters that shift the focus among characters, this novel offers a heartbreaking yet ultimately hopeful portrait of three friends and the love/hate relationship they have with the insular community they grew up in. The third-person narration manages to convey distinct flavor for each deeply personal and introspective storyline, so each character emerges as an authentic individual, flawed yet lovable, and readers will find themselves drawn by the heartstrings into their complex lives. The small community is likewise carefully drawn, a mix of the angry, the desperate, and the supportive that avoids drifting into stereotypes. Hand this to fans of Whaley's Where Things Come Back (BCCB 5/11) and readers who want stories of the rural South crafted with candor and care. AM. 384p. THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE UNIV. OF ILLINOIS, c2016.
Kirkus Reviews | 12/01/2016
A touching debut chronicles the coming-of-age of three high school seniors, misfits and best friends. Neither Dill, Travis, nor Lydia feels at home in Forrestville, a small Tennessee town named after the founder of theKlu Klux Klan. Lydia’s loving, prosperous parents have givenher the tools to create a popular blog and the glittering prospectof college life in New York City. Travis, on the other hand, escapes his father’s drunken brutality and his own heartbreak over his soldier brother’s death by retreating into a fictional fantasy world. And Dillard Early Jr. can’t escape his name: his snake-handling preacher father became notorious in these parts when he was incarcerated for child porn. Some—Dill’s motheramong them—blame Dill for his father’conviction. Lydiais determined to realize her dreams, and she is equally determinedthat the boys dream, too. Dill just wants Lydia to stay.Writing in third-person chapters that alternate among the threecharacters, Zentner covers the whole of their senior year, with heartbreak and a hopefulconclusion. Characters, incidents,dialogue, the poverty of the rural South, enduring friendship, a desperate clinging to strange faiths, fear of the unknown, and an awareness of the courage it takes to survive, let alone thrive, are among this fine novel’s strengths. Zentner writes with understanding and grace—a new voice to savor. (Fiction. 14 & up). KIRKUS MEDIA LLC, c2016.
Publishers Weekly | 12/14/2015
Ages 14-up. Forrestville, Tenn., named after Ku Klux Klan founder Nathan Bedford Forrest, isn't exactly a welcome place for slightly ouside-the-mainstream folks like friends Dillard, Lydia, and Travis. Dill is a high school senior whose snake-handling preacher father is currently incarcerated; Lydia, a successful fashion blogger, plans on attending NYU after graduation; and Travis, large of body and gentle of soul, loses himself (and the pain of his father's physical and emotional abuse) in a fantasy series called Bloodfall. While Dill finds comfort and beauty in music, Travis's innate kindness belies his circumstances, and Lydia's incandescent, gleefully offbeat personality draws them together. As the novel, Zentner's debut, builds to a shocking act of violence that shatters the friends' world, this sepia-toned portrait of small-town life serves as a moving testament to love, loyalty, faith, and reaching through the darkness to find light and hope. 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. Agent: Charlie Olsen, Inkwell Management. (Mar.). 384p. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2015.
 Journal Reviews
Booklist | 11/15/2015
Grades 9-12. In small-town Forrestville, Tennessee, broody musician Dill Early begins his senior year with a general feeling of dread because it means his best friend, Lydia, will be leaving for college once they graduate. As the son of a snake-handling Pentecostal preacher currently in prison, Dill is unable to escape his father's shadow. Lydia, on the other hand, is an outspoken blogger and fashionista, who can't wait to get out of Dodge. Completing their trio is Travis, a gentle giant who carries a staff and is obsessed with fantasy novels. In chapters that shift among the teens' perspectives, Zentner effectively shows the aspirations, fears, and dark secrets they harbor during their final year together. A musician himself, Zentner transitions to prose easily in his debut, pulling in complex issues that range from struggles with faith to abuse to grief. Refreshingly, this novel isn't driven by romance--though it rears its head--but by the importance of pursuing individual passions and forging one's own path. A promising new voice in YA. Smith, Julia. 384p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2015.
Horn Book | 09/01/2016
High School. Three misfits in small-town Forrestville, Tennessee, have found solace in one another, but the start of senior year throws their vastly different post-high school options into high relief. Dill, the son of a disgraced snake-handling preacher, knows he'll spend the foreseeable future paying off his family's debts by working at the local grocer; likewise, Travis, whose father has only grown more abusive since the death of Travis's older brother in Afghanistan, is likely to escape Forrestville only in the pages of his beloved fantasy novels. But for fashion blogger Lydia, senior year marks not an ending but "only the beginning of the beginning" as she starts planning for college at NYU. The three friends' relationships are complex and credible, both before and after a tragedy that throws Dill into a morass of depression and self-doubt. The adult characters are less well developed, frequently speaking in expository statements that contrast with the teens' more realistic and engaging dialogue. However, Zentner rarely takes the easy way out thematically, instead vigorously wrestling with issues of Christian faith, family history, poverty, and mental health. In the end, readers will, like Dill, be left pondering where salvation lies: with God, with oneself, or with one another. norah piehl. 373pg. THE HORN BOOK, c2016.
Horn Book Guide | 05/01/2017
2. Three misfits have vastly different post-high school options. Dill, son of a disgraced preacher, and Travis, whose father has grown more abusive since Travis's brother's death, are unlikely to escape small-town Tennessee. But for blogger Lydia, senior year marks "the beginning of the beginning." The friends' relationships are complex and credible; Zentner vigorously wrestles with issues of faith, family history, poverty, and mental health. ncp. 373pg. THE HORN BOOK, c2017.
School Library Journal | 01/01/2016
Gr 9 Up. The son of a snake-handling preacher imprisoned for possessing child pornography, Dill escapes his controlling mother and social ostracism with the help of his two friends, Lydia and Travis. As the trio round out their senior year, it becomes overwhelmingly apparent the different paths their lives are going to take--Travis is content working in a lumberyard and diving into a fantasy world from a book series in his spare time, while Lydia runs a popular fashion blog and is intent on attending New York University. As for Dill, he yearns for more than Forrestville, TN, can offer, but he feels compelled to honor his father's legacy and his mother's domineering wishes. As Dill grapples with a crush on Lydia and a mother who wants him to drop out of high school, a YouTube clip of Dill singing and playing guitar begins to garner attention. Dill must decide among what his heart wants, what his family needs, and his own desire for a life outside of their small town; "If you're going to live," he says, "you might as well do painful, brave, and beautiful things." Zentner offers a contemporary young adult novel that explores many issues common with teenagers today--bullying, life after high school, and the coming together and breaking apart of high school friendships. Thorough characterization and artful prose allow readers to intimately experience the highs and lows of these three friends. VERDICT Recommended for fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell. Amanda C. Buschmann, Atascocita Middle School, Humble, TX. 384p. SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2016.