Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

5 Stars
“If you’re going to live, you might as well do painful, brave, and beautiful things.”

A week or so ago I claimed that it would be hard to top Dark Matter as my best read of 2016. Turns out I lied. It wasn’t that hard at all. Once again Shelby (or more specifically, her NetGalley addiction) gets the credit for putting this one on my radar. She’s a horrible old bitty like me and rarely gives out the 5 Stars so when she raved about The Serpent King (well, in all honesty it was when she posted a non giff-i-fied review) I knew I should take her seriously. I think she has emotions a little more often than I do, though, so I was positive my robot heart could make it through The Serpent King unscathed. After all . . . .

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But then I met Dill, a boy whose daddy was famous for being a snake-handling/strychnine drinking preacher, but has most recently become famous for activities most of us only see on Dateline. It was impossible not to immediately want to tuck Dill into a special corner of my heart . . .

“No Jesus, no peace. Know Jesus, know peace. What if you know Jesus but have no peace?”

Dill introduced me to Lydia – a girl who marched to the beat of her own drum and somehow managed to be best friends with Dill although she didn’t quite share his love for the Lord . . .

“Do you think that’s what Jesus really meant? Maybe he was like, ‘and theoretically, you could probably pick up snakes,’ and Mark’s over there writing and he’s like, ‘You should literally pick up snakes. Cool, Jesus, got it!’ And Jesus is going, ‘Well, calm down with the snake business. Don’t be weird; just be a decent person. It’s really more of a metaphor.’ And Mark is writing, ‘Definitely pick up actual literal snakes and drink actual real poison like rotten grape juice or other Bible-y poison.’”

(It probably goes without saying that Lydia was my people.)

Then the two kids introduced me to the final member of their trifecta – a boy named Travis who found what he believed in through a different sort of good book . . .

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I can’t remember the last time a book affected me this much or when I read a YA story with multiple narrators who had such distinct voices and personalities. I have placed The Serpent King on the “like-this-or-we-can’t-be-friends” shelf. Normally that title is just for grins, but there’s a good chance if you hate this one I will experience a severe case of the butthurt and not be able to speak to you anymore. (Have no fears, Ron 2.0, you get a pass for not liking anything that I do and all that jazz.) Everyone read this. It feeds my dark side to watch you all cry the ugly tears of a Kardashian, especially if I know you will be like me and look “like your heart stepped on a Lego” once you are finished. As for me, I’ll be uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh busy for awhile . . .

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ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Thank you, NetGalley!

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