Mundie Moms

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

THE SERPENT KING by Jeff Zenter / Blog Tour: Book Review

Hello and welcome to today's blog tour stop for THE SERPENT KING by debut author Jeff Zenter. 


By: Jeff Zenter
Published by: Random House
To Be Released on: March 8th, 2016
Pre-Order from: Amazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads

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 sense 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.

Zenter's debut is a coming of age story with friendship, courage, and forgiveness at it's heart. It's a story about finding out who you are, over coming the fear of doing what you feel is right in order to get where you feel you need to be, and doing what you believe is best for you. It's a story about not letting anyone or anything hold you back, and holding onto to the dream you have for yourself. It's a story about making that dream a possibility. Sometimes you'll have to do some of those things on your own, and other times you'll have the help of good friends to help make those dreams a reality. No matter how hard it will be, it will all be worth it.

Normally The Serpent King is not a book I would pick up and read. It's a 'not my cup of tea' kind of book. For some reason this particular book was one I started browsing through, and ended up reading it the day it arrived. Zenter's writing is poetic, quickly grabbed my attention. While I may not have connected with the story or characters, there's something about Zenter's storytelling that made it hard for me to put the book down. I wanted to know what the outcome of Dill and his two best friends's lives. This book is one that at times had me feeling hopeful, heartbreaking, mad, happy, and I of course had a few proud mama moments when it came to Dill and his taking his life choices into his own hands. This of course was a huge decision for him. 

The characters in this book were a fabulous mix of characters who some might call misfits. Within the characters I felt like there's something that everyone can either sympathize with or relate to in some way. Dill, Lydia and Travis are the main characters. I loved that the story is told from all three of their points of views. Dill definitely does not have it easy. Thanks to his Serpent king father, his family name has become tainted, making them looked down upon in their small, southern town. To say they've falling on hard times would an understatement. With his father in prison, his mother and Dill are left to pay the bills, and do what they can to get by. Dill's mother thinks Dill should drop out of school to work and help pay for the bills. Dill feels trapped and wants nothing more to hold on to his dream of escaping the life he's stuck living in. His music and his friends are his solace.

Similar to Dill, Travis is also trapped. Travis lives with an abusive father. Instead of being loved for who he is, this fantasy series fan is constantly reminded that he's not the son his father wants him to be. Lydia is the fashion guru of this trio. She has a fashion blog and is ready to head out to NYC to follow her dream of attending NYU. I loved that she's the one that constantly pushes her friends to be more than their circumstances. She pushes them to not only be who they are, she helps keep them floating in situations they could other wise easily given into. 

Parent wise, I love it when parents are apart of YA books. The parents in this book play a huge role in the lives of these teens, as they should. However everyone's parents, except for Lydia's are less than stellar. I absolutely loved Lydia's parents and the relationship they had with their daughter. I also loved the support they had for her friends. When it comes to Dill and Travis's parents, I had absolutely no respect for them. I may have for a moment felt bad for both Travis and Dill's moms, but Travis's mom could have left, and Dill's mom never really saw her son for who he was. She's so blinded by her way of life, instead of wanting better for her son, she felt he should be punished for the life she and his father choose to live. Dill's parents infuriated me to know end. Thankfully Dill gets the best of both of them in two separate, yet pivotal scenes.

While I'm a religious person, I'm not a fan of over religious themes in YA books. However the religious theme in the book was the heart of this book's story.  Being that I now live in the south, religion is a huge way of life here. Not saying it's not else where, but it's a whole different thing in the south. Kind of like how football is here. Actually football is it's own religion here too. The religious themes in this book are realistic, and not only a life style for some of these characters, it is their life.

 Zenter's debut may not have been one I loved (it goes back to the whole 'not my cup of tea' read), however it's one that made me think, and had me cheering on the characters. This book definitely had me feeling a wide range of book feelings, and I'm looking forward to reading many more books from Zenter in the future.


“Characters, incidents, dialogue, the poverty of the rural South, enduring friendship, a desperate clinging to strange faiths, fear of theunknown, 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.” — Kirkus ReviewsStarred Review


Jeff Zentner lives in Nashville, Tennessee. He came to writing through music, starting his creative life as a guitarist and eventually becoming a songwriter. He’s released five albums and appeared on recordings with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Thurston Moore, Debbie Harry, Mark Lanegan, and Lydia Lunch, among others.

Now he writes novels for young adults. He became interested in writing for young adults after volunteering at the Tennessee Teen Rock Camp and Southern Girls Rock Camp. As a kid, his parents would take him to the library and drop him off, where he would read until closing time. He worked at various bookstores through high school and college.

He speaks fluent Portuguese, having lived in the Amazon region of Brazil for two years.


Monday, February 22: Jenuine Cupcakes, Kickoff Blog Tour Post
Tuesday, February 23: Book Hounds, Review
Wednesday, February 24: Mundie Moms, Review
Thursday, February 25: Curling Up With a Good Book, Review
Friday, February 26: To Read or Not to Read, Annotate a Scene Guest Post
Monday, February 29: Bookish Lifestyle, Review
Tuesday, March 1: The Book Swarm, Review
Wednesday, March 2: Katie’s Book Blog, Playlist Post
Thursday, March 3: Paperback Princess, Guest Post: Writing a Character with a Parent in Prison
Friday, March 4: Who R U, Behind the Scenes Book Secret Guest Post
Monday, March 7: Icey Books, Review
Tuesday, March 8: Stories & Sweeties, Author Interview
Wednesday, March 9: LovingDemBooks, Review
Thursday, March 10: Swoony Boys Podcast, Review
Friday, March 11: Good Books And Good Wine, Review
Monday, March 14: Winter Haven Books, Review
Tuesday, March 15: Me, My Shelf and I, Review
Wednesday, March 16: Novel Novice, Review
Thursday, March 17: Lili’s Reflections, Review
Friday, March 18: A Reader of Fictions, Author “Don’t Miss” in Nashville Guest Post