Dillard Early (Dill) has a lot of ghosts to wrestle with. His father is in prison for a horrible crime. His mother wants him to drop out of school and work to support the family. His life is miserable because he can't escape his family name. Music seems to be his only release from the torment.
Travis' life is somehow even worse. His father is an abusive drunk, his mother is a wilted flower afraid to speak out of turn. Travis escapes his nightmare life through a gripping fantasy series he reads over and over again.
Lydia has it all, a supportive family, a popular fashion blog, over 100,000 followers on Twitter and a good lead on a spot at NYU in the fall.
Together, these three stick together as they feel the tight noose of small town life tighten around their necks.
I loved The Serpent King because I grew up in a small town where giant religious signs could be found. We would sit and watch for trains, we would escape through music and fantasy novels and Dungeons & Dragons. We would be picked on for being nerds before being a nerd was commercially viable and suddenly everybody wanted to wear glasses and talk about how nerdy they were.
This is a heart-wrenching story with real guts to it. Highly recommended for Years 10 and up.