The Serpent King // Jeff Zentner

published: 2016
pages: 369
ISBN: 978-0-553-52403-1
read: 2/19-21/2018
rating: it was okay. 
book: 7 of 12 (secretly aiming for 52 but happy with 30) of 2018

"and if you're going to live, you might as well do painful, brave and beautiful things." 
pg 327

Dillard Early, Jr., Travis Bohannon and Lydia Blankenship are three friends from different walks of life who have one thing in common: none of them seem to fit the mold in rural Tennessee's Forrestville High. Dill has always been branded as an outsider due to his family heritage as snake handlers and poison drinkers, an essential part of their Pentecostal faith. But after his father is sent to prison for sexual abuse of a young parishioner, Dill and his mother become real pariahs. His only two friends are Travis, a gentle giant who works at his family's lumberyard and is obsessed with a Game of Thrones-like fantasy series (much to his alcoholic father's chagrin); and Lydia, who runs a popular fashion blog that's part Tavi Gevinson and part Angela Chase, and is actively plotting her escape from Redneckville, Tennessee.
As the three friends begin their senior year, it becomes clear that they won't all be getting to start a promising new life after graduation. How they deal with their diverging paths could cause the end of their friendship. Until a shattering act of random violence forces Dill to wrestle with his dark legacy and find a way into the light of a future worth living.

MY THOUGHTS
insert exhausted emoji face in here. 

general rule: i don't read any books that include anything having to do with religion because i read to be happy (or whatever tf) and the last thing i need is a story about some 1 sided bullshit. 
that being said, the ONLY reason that i read this book was because the author (who i didn't even know was the author) posted this on ig and i thought to myself "hmm, i have to see what this whole prius deal is about!" and because i did very little looking into what this was about, i had no idea this involved religion.

so i got the book and i read it and of course....religion bullshit.
but i kept at it because, well honestly, i don't know why. 

this is the first book i read where i can honestly, 100% say, the story had no real plot. 
like nothing really happens the first 100 something pages. 
and even then, after being done weeks ago now, i still agree. 
this is about nothing. 
well, not nothing because there's something there but it was like 90% nothing. 

Travis, Dill, & Lydia are all friends mostly because (tiny spoiler) no one will take Travis seriously (they're afraid of him) after he accidentally fucked up that one bully. because no one will talk to Dill after his father was busted for child porn (while the top description is true, it also has to do with child pornography) and well, Lydia hates everyone and so she just ended up with them. 

Dill's mom is all about Jesus and basically hates Dill because he didn't take the fault for his father. had he claimed it was his porn, his father would have walked free. so he has no one except them two. 

travis' dad is a typical white trash, wife/kid beater and his mother wont do shit. 
and all the kid wants to do is care for his mom and read his friggin books! but noooo...his dad of course has to also be a total pig about his son's life choices. 

and of course, Lydia has the all supportive, give her everything she could ever want and more parents. 
and her blog. 
her fancy ass blog. 
(by the way, lately, I've been having a real life, real blog awakening...and I'm scared guys.) 
and i hated that she was such a bitch to her parents at points. 
i don't think she meant it maliciously all of the time but i felt like at some points i wanted to smack her dad for being so "lol, honey!" about it. 

i will say that since there really isn't a "plot" or whatever you want to call it, there isn't really an AHA moment where you're all "ah!, this is what its about!" but there some stuff in there that tugged at my heartstrings. 

for example: 

that thing Lydia did for Travis! 
i just about died. finally she uses her power for the benefit of someone else and it was the freaking sweetest thing ever and i was so freaking happy for Travis. 
i have to say, of the bunch, he was my favorite. 

the gift of Travis and then doing what he did, i low-key hate the author just a little bit. 
i know its just a story and maybe if that hadn't happened, Dill wouldn't have had his self discovery. but for the sake of one character _____________ to help another one become his true self, I'm sure something could have been worked out to ___________. (sorry i don't want to spoil here!) ...but i guess, i mean, fuck, i guess i can see why he did it. 
BUT STILL!

another thing that bugged me was that Lydia got rid of the prius. whytf didn't she give it to Dill. he was going to need a car. and she gets whatever tf she wants....its like, come on! (it's stupid i know...but still. if you're going to turn this around to be corny, be as corny as possible!) 

other than that....i mean, i still believe 100 % that nothing really happens. 
it's just s story with some sad shit in it that ends up, ending up. 
i would have been beyond okay never having read this. 
i mean, i didn't lose much because its a library book so it was free and i read it in 2 days so it wasnt thaaaaaat bad but it's definitely not something that ill be going out of my way to re-read.

if you've read this, what do you think? 
i'm honestly interested in others thoughts about this book because its 50/50 on goodreads and those that didn't like it also didn't care for it because it was mostly nothing but also because they did not finish it and those that loved it, well, i personally don't see why. 

anyway, I'll leave you with some faves. 

"i read somewhere that a lot of the stars we see don't exist anymore. They've already died and its taken millions of years for their light to reach earth." 
- Dill
"that wouldn't be a bad way to die. Giving off light for millions of years after you're gone" 
- Lydia pg 113

"I mean it, Dill. I really mean it. We need to take care of each other from now on. We need to be each other's family because ours is so messed up. we need to make better lives for ourselves. we gotta start doing stuff were afraid to do." 
- Travis pg 233

"i want you to be careful in this world. my heart is wrapped up in you." 
- Lydia's Dad pg 270

"I'm tired of many things, I'm tired of watching children perish. I'm tired of the world grinding up gentle people. ........I've made books my life because they let me escape this world of cruelty and savagery. .....Please take care of yourselves my young friends." 
- Mr. Burson pg 277


jump on over for spoilers. 

thanks for reading! 
#lesreads on IG
SPOILERS

DILL
Dills dad goes to jail because they catch him with child pornography. 
his mother tells him that he's better off dropping out of college and just working to help out around the house and pay the bills. 

his father was a pastor that dealt with snakes and shit.  as was his grandpa but basically the reputation that follows is that all the Early mean go crazy. 
this is because his grandpa had a daughter that he absolutely adored and then one day, boom a snake came along and killed her with a bite. and he went "nuts" basically. 
so their thing was to handle snakes and show them no fear. 

and then this shit happened to his dad with jail and shit so he's just counting down the days. 

he doesn't go crazy. 

for a while he was angry that Lydia is leaving and as much as "he wants" to stay, he eventually realizes that he needs to go to college and move on and do so much more with his life. 

he is also apparently a good musician so Lydia helps post his videos on YouTube. she then links him on her blog and because she has a huge following, he becomes sort of famous. 

so off to school he goes to study music or whatever the fuck. 

and of course, he is in love with Lydia and yes, they do end up dating and doing the long distance relationship thing. 

and because the author is done at the end of the book with them just leaving to seperate colleges, I'm choosing to think that they make it through college and they become hella popular because of her blog and his music and they blow up and get married and have kids and realize that life is only as fucked up as you make it for yourself and your kids and they live happily ever after

LYDIA
nothing really. 
she has a blog, and she's self involved until shit happens with Travis and then she sorta shapes up. 

i will say, she is a huge reason that Dill got his shit together but yea, she goes to NYU and then yea. 

TRAVIS
his dad is a raging alcoholic and so because of that he escapes into his books (WHICH I FREAKING LOVED!) and into the online forum of the stuff that he was reading. 
in there he meets Amelia, and while i honestly thought it was some online troll shit, I'm glad that she was actually a decent human being that really wanted to be with Travis. 

the thing that Lydia does for him: she gets in touch with the author of his favorite book. they pick him up from the airport (he obvs had no idea) and they spend the evening eating ice cream while they talk about the story and just life in general. 
he then goes home and his dad is in a drunken rage talking shit to him because his other worker missed a delivery and Travis didn't answer his phone to make it on time to receive (he forgot his phone at home). he apologizes but his dad is obliterated so they throw it down and it ends up with T threatening to kill him if he ever lays another hand on his mother and he walks away (he gets kicked out the house). 
he ends up crashing with Dill. 

he still goes to work with his dad and to make extra money, he sells lumber or someshit on the side. 
one day, hes over by the river or lake when these 2 guys roll up and he assumes they want what he's selling. 
they show him the gun and tell him to give them all his money. 
he goes to the car to get it but they see his staff (sword that he carried with him everywhere) and they shoot him. 
and they end up killing him. 

fucking sweetheart ass Travis died because the author needed to have a push so Dill could man the fuck up. 

UGH. 

so yeah. 
that happens. 


in the end, Dill and Lydia both go to school and do the long distance thing. 
his mother is still upset that he is leaving and basically it boils down to her being afraid to be alone. 

he does tell his father that he is going to school but he also give him shit about it and he calls Lydia something along the lines of a whore so that pushed him over the edge. 
he never goes back to see him. (at least in my alternate made up ending).

i will say that i do love that, while not reeeallllyyy doing it, Lydia's dad kind of becomes like a sorta Dad figure to Dill. 

anyway, that's kinda really all of it. 
i mean, as always, there's still stuff but this is the big stuff. 

thanks for reading!!!!

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