Book Review – The Serpent King, Jeff Zentner

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
Hardcover, 384 pages, Owlcrate subscription

Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace.

The only antidote to all this venom is his friendship with fellow outcasts Travis and Lydia. But as they are starting their senior year, Dill feels the coils of his future tightening around him. Dill’s only escapes are his music and his secret feelings for Lydia, neither of which he is brave enough to share. Graduation feels more like an ending to Dill than a beginning. But even before then, he must cope with another ending- one that will rock his life to the core.

Is this really the only book I finished between May and September? Yikes. I had to take a break from Adrienne Mayor’s The Amazons; not that it isn’t an interesting read, but it’s the sort of nonfiction with several hundred pages of footnotes and cross-references, and it’s hard to rebuild momentum now that I’ve lost the initial push.

But moving on to The Serpent King. I’m having trouble putting it into words. This is a novel about growing up, facing down monumental change, friendship, and feeling trapped by expectations and legacy. It deals with family – the good, the bad, the downright ugly. It deals with jealousy, depression, how life is often shitty and unfair and how people are more often than not the reason for that shittiness and unfairness.

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Book Review – Wonder Woman: The Golden Age, Les Daniels

Wonder Woman: The Golden Age by Les Daniels
Hardcover, 80 pages, yard sale find

Beautiful as Aphrodite, strong as Hercules, wise as Athena, and swift as Mercury, Wonder Woman is the most popular female comic book hero of all time. Created in 1941 by a maverick psychologist with a Ph.D. from Harvard and some revolutionary ideas about women, Wonder Woman was modeled after the mythological Amazon warrior and endowed with Olympian strength, a peacekeeping mission, and a golden lasso that could bend anyone to her will. Wonder Woman: The Golden Age celebrates her heyday, from 1941 to 1948. Packed with archival comic book art, photos, and more, this full-color book is a beautifully designed tribute to the super heroine who set out to “change your mind – and change the world!”

Disclaimer: my knowledge of – and interest in – U.S. comics is limited. Wonder Woman is the exception, though, and I picked this book up to learn more about the character, beyond what I know through pop culture osmosis.

This book has multiple official names; my edition is titled Wonder Woman: The Golden Age, Goodreads has it down as The Life and Times of the Amazon Princess, and I’ve noticed several other covers with subtitle The Complete History. The former is the best reflection of its content and “complete” history is a misnomer: this book is a light introduction to Wonder Woman’s inception and initial popularity, from 1941 to 1948, with a short biography of her (very eccentric) creator and some of the key players in the comic’s early publication.

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