The Serpent King – Jeff Zentner

Hello there,

Long time no see! Sorry I’ve been away, this might be the first book I’ve read this year that I think warrants a book review and discussion. I’m glad to be back so let’s get started. 🙂

This book follows three characters, Dill, Lydia, and Travis. The story starts with them entering their last year in high school. Over the course of the story, they have to deal with their own problems at home while trying to figure out their own futures. As someone who is also about their age, I can see how the events they are experiencing may seem frightening. The worries and emotions of the characters are accurate reflections of people my age.

As I read the author bio first, I knew that this was his debut novel. As such, I might have been over critical. I thought the writing seemed a bit heavy on the adjectives and descriptions, especially in the beginning. It seemed like an expository composition I might have written when I was younger. But after the first few chapters, I stopped noticing the writing and started focusing on the story. It ended up being an easy read which I blew through in 2 or 3 days.

Though the book doesn’t really have a typical plot where the main characters are out to find something or are on a journey from point A to B, I was still hooked on the story. I admit this might not appeal to those who are hoping for a more structured story. So, this is ultimately a matter of preference. As far as I understand, the people who didn’t like this book were those who thought it was predictable or pointless. Though I think this might be more of a problem with the subject matter. Regardless, this book made me tear up and laugh out loud, so it gets a good rating from me. 🙂 Now, I shall be moving on to a spoiler-filled discussion of the book, so move away now if you would still like to read the book. Shoo! 

Happy reading




Confession: I have a terrible habit. Before or after I read a book, I will go onto Goodreads, and seek out the 1 and 2 star reviews. The only exceptions are for books I didn’t like, in which case I search for the opposing view. But glowing reviews aren’t nearly as fun as watching people vent their frustrations. As such, this section will comprise my views on certain problems that people had with the book. Here we go!

  1. Lydia and Dill are too immature to be 17 year olds —  To me, their worries about the future, such as moving away from friends and family were relatable. I will concede that at the very beginning, their constant bickering was annoying and rather childish. However, I thought it was a realistic portrayal of the average 17 year old. Not everyone is of the same level of maturity and people who are mature may sometimes still act otherwise. I also wouldn’t expect them to act like grown-ups and settle arguments without any emotion because they’re aren’t grown ups. Though I admit, my opinion here might only be so, due to where I have grown up. For example, a book reviewer mentions that when she was 17 or 18 years old, she was already moving out of her home. Where I come from, people usually only move out of their parents’ home after they’ve gotten married.
  2. Lydia and Dill “insta-crush” — I’m quite confused by this because several reviewers mention that the crush was only revealed in the 170 + page? But I am sure that at the beginning, there were small tidbits like when Lydia reveals that she thinks Dill looks good when they were at an indie clothing shop. Similarly, Dill also very explicitly revels in Lydia’s scent (mind my phrasing) at the beginning of the book. They have also been friends for a very long time so they do care about each other. From a non-physical perspective, Dill was sad that Lydia would be leaving and this was mentioned very early on. So from my point of view, the crush wasn’t instantaneous and without any build-up.
  3. Predictable — Hmmm… maybe. I can’t really agree/disagree on this one. I sure didn’t expect Travis to die. So I thought the story was pretty decent? Conclusion: Depends on how many books you have read
  4. Travis only existed to die — Hmm… I suppose it could seem that way. But don’t characters all serve a purpose? I thought his character was pretty fleshed out. Perhaps because he was not the main character, he might have seemed more neglected as a result. It is a valid point that I had not previously noticed.
  5. Story had no plotline — Surprisingly, I didn’t notice this but it’s true. Regardless, I was hooked to the story. So this point is a matter of personal preference 😀

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below 🙂


2 thoughts on “The Serpent King – Jeff Zentner

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