The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner is the story of Dillard “Dill” Early III, who is
desperately trying to overcome the legacy of his father and grandfather. His father is a
Pentecostal minister that preaches the handling of rattlesnakes and drinking poison to
prove someone’s faith, but has fallen from grace and is serving time in prison for child
pornography. Dillard’s grandfather was thought to have lost his mind to grief and took
his revenge on any snake he came across, adorning himself with their skins. The vipers
that Dill faces are in the form of his disapproving parents and his classmates at a rural
Tennessee high school. There are two fellow outcasts that he has befriended, Lydia,
who runs a fashion blog and is destined for college in New York, and Travis, who
lives vicariously through fantasy novels to avoid his abusive father. These three have a
special bond and as they try to survive Senior year, they learn to be themselves.
— Sandra, Seattle
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK • WILLIAM C. MORRIS AWARD WINNER • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Buzzfeed • Mashable • Kirkus Reviews • Publishers Weekly • Shelf Awareness
A critically acclaimed debut novel about three teens who find themselves--and each other--while on the cusp of graduating from high school with hopes of leaving their small-town behind. And don't miss the author's highly anticipated new book, In the Wild Light!
"Move over, John Green; Zentner is coming for you." —The New York Public Library
Dill isn't the most popular kid at his rural Tennessee high school. After his father fell from grace in a public scandal that reverberated throughout their small town, Dill became a target. Fortunately, his two fellow misfits and best friends, Travis and Lydia, have his back.
But as they begin their senior year, Dill feels the coils of his future tightening around him. His only escapes are music and his secret feelings for Lydia--neither of which he is brave enough to share. Graduation feels more like an ending to Dill than a beginning. But even before then, he must cope with another ending--one that will rock his life to the core.
Debut novelist Jeff Zentner provides an unblinking and at times comic view of the hard realities of growing up in the Bible belt, and an intimate look at the struggles to find one’s true self in the wreckage of the past.
About the Author
Before becoming a writer, JEFF ZENTNER was a singer-songwriter and guitarist who recorded with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, and Debbie Harry. He lives in Nashville with his wife and son. Committed to making creativity a part of his everyday life, Zentner wrote both his debut novel, The Serpent King, and his follow-up book, Goodbye Days, on his iPhone while taking the bus to and from work. You can follow Zentner on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter at @jeffzentner.
A William C. Morris Award Winner A New York Times Notable Book An Amazon Best Book of the Year A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year A BuzzFeed Best YA Book of the Year A Mashable Best YA Book of the Year A Shelf Awareness Best Teen Book of the Year A Hudson Booksellers Best Book of the Year A B&N Best YA Book of the Year A Southern Living Best Book of the Year An Indie Next List Top Ten Selection A Paste Magazine and Pop Crush Most Anticipated YA Book of the Year A Publishers Weekly Spring 2016 Flying Start
"A book you won't be able to resist or forget. The Southern boy in me savored every syllable and the reader in me fell in love with every page." –John Corey Whaley, National Book Award finalist and Printz Award winner
"A triumph of love and dignity." –Stephanie Perkins, New York Times bestselling author
"Move over, John Green; Zentner is coming for you." –The New York Public Library
"Will fill the infinite space that was left in your chest after you finished The Perks of Being a Wallflower." –Book Riot
"A story about friendship, family and forgiveness, it's as funny and witty as it is utterly heartbreaking." –Paste Magazine
"A brutally honest portrayal of teen life . . . [and] a love letter to the South from a man who really understands it." –Mashable
"I adored all three of these characters and the way they talked to and loved one another." –New York Times Book Review
"A new voice to savor." –Kirkus, Starred
"[T]his 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." –PW, Starred
"Pens would run dry if readers were to underline extraordinary sentences--the kind that are so true, or funny, or beautiful that they clamp hearts. . . . [An] extraordinary YA debut." –Shelf Awareness, Starred
"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 Bulletin, Starred
"Thorough characterization and artful prose allow readers to intimately experience the highs and lows of these three friends .... Recommended for fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell." –SLJ