For our first official review, I’m reviewing some of my favorite books of all time (seriously, EVERYONE needs to read these books).
As one of the (many) perks of my job, I get to read a lot of really great books, which leads me to get to meet some amazing authors – one of whom is Jeff Zentner, author of The Serpent King (Crown Books for Young Readers, 2016) and the upcoming Goodbye Days (Crown Books for Young Readers, 2017).
I first ran across The Serpent King at the beginning of 2016 while researching YA authors to invite to my state’s yearly book festival. Intrigued by the cover (’cause aren’t those covers GORGEOUS?) I checked out the reviews and upon making a decision to invite the author to be featured at the Festival, I also decided to purchase myself a copy to read.
Am I ever glad I did.
From the first page I was sucked into the world of three small-town Tennessee teens – Dill, the son of a disgraced snake-handling preacher (his father’s in prison on some very creepy charges), Lydia, the upper-middle class fashion blogger, and Travis, the fantasy series-reading, dragon necklace-wearing gentle giant. All very different teenagers but best friends yet the same, they are just trying to survive their senior year of high school.
I picked up The Serpent King knowing zero about the author. After finishing, though, I read his author bio and was not surprised to find out that he is also a musician. Jeff’s writing is so lyrical that it is almost serpentine in and of itself with the way it ebbs and flows. Not only do I care so deeply about the characters (I seriously just want to adopt Dill and protect him from all the awfulness he has to endure) but the writing is also so fantastic that it has spanned generations. Everyone I have recommended it to from teenagers to the ages of 90+ has loved this book.
(Which reminds me – if you ever get the chance to listen to the audiobook (narrated by 3 seriously talented folks – Michael Crouch (Dill), Ariadne Meyers (Lydia), and Ethan Sawyer (Travis), do so. You won’t regret it.)
Jeff is one of those rare talents that only come along once every so often, and Dill, Lydia, and Travis will always have a special place in my heart as some of my favorite YA characters ever created –
– so imagine my delight when I found out that Jeff had another book coming out.
Goodbye Days, releasing March 7, 2017, is the story of Carver Briggs, a Nashville teen who has lost his 3 best friends in a car accident – one that was caused while the friend who was driving was replying to a text that Carver had just sent.
Where are you guys? Text me back.
In order to process through his grief over the course of the year, Carver embarks on a series of “Goodbye Days” with the families of his deceased friends. There’s also some other stuff that happens, but… spoilers. 🙂
I’ve been one of the lucky ones who has gotten a chance to read Goodbye Days early, and it is truly a masterful follow-up to The Serpent King. While not a sequel, one of the characters from The Serpent King makes an appearance in Goodbye Days – so read TSK first or else you’ll hit a pretty major spoiler.
Fair warning as well when reading both The Serpent King & Goodbye Days – have tissues handy. LOTS AND LOTS of tissues. In fact, Jeff, you might want to buy stock in Kleenex since your readers will be using so many.
Final rating: 5 shiny new sporks each.
Even though we had been Tweeting and emailing back & forth during the months leading up to the Festival, I was fortunate enough to have gotten to actually meet Jeff in person at the Festival and hang out with him and get to know him a little afterwards as well. Jeff is a super genuine guy who truly cares about his readers, so stay tuned for an interview with him!