“If you’re going to live, you might as well do painful, brave, and beautiful things.” That is the quote that is on the cover of Jeff Zentner debut novel The Serpent King. The Serpent King is the story of three high school seniors doing their senior year, and the things they must deal with from family, college, and themselves. The novel is told from three main characters Dill, Lydia, and Travis point of view.
The story starts off and end with Dill, who is the main character out of the three, and it tell the story of his family. Dill comes from a line of snake handle preacher. His dad was one, and his dad’s dad was one. Dill father is currently in prison for a hideous crime. Out of all the three, Dill must have the most uphill climb out of all the characters. His struggles with his family, his story was the one that I related to most. Not all his stuff, but majority of the stuff with college. It was close to home for me. His characters make you feel as if you have known them forever.
I am not going to give much away about the book, but if you live or grew up in the south then this book is for you. The stories about hit home for they are awfully familiar. There is a part in the middle of the book that I was not prepared for, and it change the whole dynamic of the story. I know this story well. Spoiler ahead so read at your own risk.
As the story starts picking up one of the main characters is killed, and it is such a powerful and emotional scene that it completely changes the theme of the book in my eyes, about life. It shows how much life matters, and how death can bring things into perspective that we do not always understand. You also get to see how different people deal with grief when it hits close to home.
As a person who has not read many books in the last 10 years, this was one of the best ones, to dip my foot back into the water.