Review | The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Few books allow you to feel the anguish and despair that makes up this life, while also lingering in the triumphs and spurts of happiness that warms the human soul and makes everything okay even if it’s for a little while. Zentner excels in playing with the reader’s emotions in delivering raw storytelling. The Serpent King is a prime example of that.

Description Summary: An equally harrowing yet comforting tale of friendship, first loves, and the courage to step out of the shadows. Ethereal, contemporary, and haunting.


Rating: 5 out of 5.

Book Summary: Skip to Review / Goodreads

 In their final year of high school best friends, Dill, Lydia, and Travis aim to figure out where life will take them after graduation; well mainly Lydia. You see Delilah “Lydia” Blankenship has her life figured out, her blog Dollywould is quickly a national rising star in the making in the world of fashion and pop culture. Lydia can’t wait to get out of small town Forrestville to head to NYU, the city of opportunities and haven for aspiring creatives like her.

Travis Bohannon is a 6ft giant that has the softest heart. He never cared much to where he’ll end up being and what he’ll end up doing, as long as he can escape reality by indulging himself in the epic fantasy world of Bloodfall where he likes to think of himself as a glorious warrior who is deemed worthy. Especially since his father thinks he’s worthless.

Dillard “Dill” Early Jr is like a young version of Snape from the HP series. Cast as the town’s shame and outlaw after his father was arrested and sent to prison for church related scandals, Dill doesn’t look at the future with the bright prospect that Lydia has nor does he have the wild imagination to escape like Travis. Figuratively and literally he is stuck. 

How was it possible for love of a place and hatred of it to exist so comfortably side by side?

As the school year nears to the end, their friendships are put to the test, harsh conversations will be spoken and bitter truths will come out. Hidden true loves will be exposed and a second chance at life will be provided. But first, Who is the Serpent King? And why is he attached to Dill like a bloodstain that cannot be wiped?



I am completely torn, broken apart, stripped down by this book. 

I cannot believe that this is Zentner’s debut book. Zentner’s ability to present something that’s achingly real despite that personally I did not experience the same circumstances that these characters had nor did I even believe in the same religion. He has successfully made me feel exactly what they’re feeling and thinking through. Thus I came to understand the characters and their journey even though we didn’t have much in common.

Characters and Development

I’m hugely impressed with the character development in this book. You can see that the characters came to actively change by themselves and by help from others. I think it’s important to take note of this because sometimes change doesn’t happen by oneself and that is what Zentner exhibits in his story and through his characters. All this attributed to a well crafted plot and better written characters.


A lot of times YA books demonstrate the “need” to go out and make it big. And in the mainstream case, usually they’ll be like Lydia: achieving high grades, goes to fancy school, has even fancier friends, makes money, and gets a status worthy career. What I like about this book is that Zentner showcases the unconventional ways to achieve what is “success” to different characters. He even provides living a quiet simple life can be enough, and equates the happiness that others might find standing in an expensive penthouse overlooking downtown city lights. So I appreciate Zentner for highlighting that in his book. A lot of teens would surely be encouraged to view life in a highly different way after reading this.

This is one of the few books that made my heart ache, like really ache. The kind where you feel the muscle is constricting itself and it’s being twisted like a rag towel.

Do I recommend? Absolutely, this is one of the best YA novels.


Published by jawahirthebookworm

Hello I’m Jawahir the bookworm, a lost twenty-something year old bookish blogger who enjoys her books with a cup of strong coffee; milk no sugar no cream.

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