The Serpent King is a book written by Jeff Zentner. But nobody cares about that so let’s just get into this post.
Why I Read The Serpent King
My ELA teacher apparently likes His Majesty because he’s a “total package.” (A classmate’s words, not mine.)
Fun Fact: He has eleven tattoos.
Assigned to me as a summer assignment and read out of obligation, The Serpent King was an unlikely contender for all of the things in my head that make it to this blog. However, I ended up liking it too much so now we’re both here in this awkward one-sided conversation.
In order to help summarize the story for everyone who has already read a good summary (or the book itself), I’ll just use some MSPaint pictures to quickly go over some key plot points.
The story begins with Dillard Early Junior, son of Dillard Early Senior who is the son of yet another Dillard Early. It’s pretty confusing but just roll with it.
Anyways, Dill Senior is a pedo priest who is incarcerated because he had some child porn on his laptop. Dill Junior didn’t take the hit for him in court so Dill Senior was rightfully imprisoned.
Unfortunately, D.J. (Dillard Junior) is outcast at school and hates his abusive mother, is envious of his friend Lydia’s life, and is haunted by his family name. As you can tell, his life is filled with sunshine and rainbows.
After winning a shitty school talent show with his rad guitar skills, D.J. gets $50 bucks (the prize money) and plans out his future with Travis, his other friend (Lydia and Travis are his only friends)1.
However, Travis gets killed in a failed mugging and all these plans go down the drain.
D.J., already being in a very awful environment, decides to end his life as survivor’s guilt wracks his soul and grief consumes all sense and emotion he has left. This is supposed to be very emotional, but I dozed off because there were too many metaphors about storms and emotional shit but I think we got the main idea.
But just before he jumps off the bridge and ends the story with a bunch of unsatisfied readers, he finds strength in his other non-dead friend, Lydia.
Wanting to escape the shitty town of Forrestville and its equally shitty inhabitants, Dill lets Lydia push him forward in life into a college. Not exactly perfect, but Lydia is a busy person and she needs to go to a prestigious college as soon as she wraps up Dill’s life to ensure he doesn’t jump off any bridges behind her back.
After that, Lydia goes off to the big city to do her thing there and Dill has a new beginning in college. It’s one of the most tear-jerking moments of the story because we never know if Dill really lost his virginity.
The story is good. Review done.
You should go buy it to support His Majesty’s career.
Also, I know that most of the people who read this were high school students trying to get some quick and easy quotes and shit, but seriously, stop. The Serpent King is a great book, save the cheating for the Shakespeare, Alan Paton, and Jane Austen unit.
As you have probably noticed, I have been calling Jeff Zentner “His Majesty” throughout this entire post, and for a good reason.
Themes and Lessons I Learned
- Take risks to grow as a person
- Don’t apply for college at the last second.
- Don’t try to lose your virginity with one of your best friends right before they leave your life and go to a faraway college.
- Selling firewood in Forrestville is a dangerous activity.
- Try not to jump off bridges.
- If you feel like you’ll never be happy again you should try to avoid bridges until it wears off.
- If your friend runs a thriving feminism blog you should abuse their fame to grow your own YouTube channel filled with videos of you playing guitar.
- When making plans for the future try to avoid dying right after you make them because that shows how little commitment you have.
Bonus: Jeff “His Majesty” Zentner Interview
Me: On a scale of one-to-awesome, how fun is writing?
Jeff: Awesome when you know what you want to write. 1 when you don’t.
Me: How do you cope with writer’s block?
Jeff: I try to make myself bored. Boredom is the mother of imagination. My method is to go on long walks.
Me: What’s your method for proofreading your work?
Jeff: I read it out loud to myself. I hear more mistakes than I see.
Me: Favorite meal for breakfast?
Jeff: Cracker Barrel blueberry pancakes.
Yeah Jeff, we all expected you to say something southerny and shit, but I just eat the Eggo waffles from Target. No need to show off.
ps Be sure to follow Jeff on Instagram and Twitter (it’s @jeffzentner for both), and maybe even follow me at @potatoneo on Instagram (I don’t have a Twitter).