Jenny Pox by J.L. Bryan
Paperback, 292 Pages
July 24, 2009
Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “You killed him. He was a miracle and you killed him. Now you’ve just got me. And I’m a curse.”
Jenny Morton is a young woman with an amazing yet devastating gift. She spreads the plague through touch and can kill if she hold on to you to long. Her father has done his best to protect her but her gift has shut her off from any human contact. Growing up in a small town in south Carolina; she has been ridiculed and persecuted all her life. Until she meets Seth. Seth has a secret gift of his own which enables Jenny to touch him without hurting him. As Jenny and Seth become closer, Seth’s girlfriend, Aisleigh, unleashes her own deadly gift to stop Jenny once and for all.
Jenny Pox was a pleasant surprise to read. I didn’t expect it to capture me quite like it did. Well written with a smooth flowing style and a unique and compelling storyline. Mystery, supernatural, and romance all blend perfectly together to create a story that captures both a YA and an adult element. I was instantly captivated by the main characters; Jenny, Seth, and Aisleigh. All three are realistically portrayed as teenagers living in a small town. Mr. Bryan doesn’t overwhelm his readers with information. Rather he takes the time to craft out each individual personality and their placement in the over all arc.
The story starts out with Jenny as a toddler. She sees a snake and when it bites her, it dies. When she shows her father, he smacks it out of her hand. Where he touches her he develops painful blisters. He then goes and get special suits he made for him and her. He has to completely cover them both up before he can touch her. It was rather poignant scene; showing that Jenny has never known the feeling of skin on skin touch.
Fast forward to high school. Jenny is more then aware of her limitations and Bryan does a fabulous job of imparting the loathing and condemnation she feels about herself and the other students feel about her. As we go travel with Jenny through her life, we experience her fears, hopes, and dreams. She is a strong compassionate individual without becoming saint like. Even though she adapts admirably to her “situation” you are drawn in to the story to see how and if she will triumph in the end. It’s interesting how she and Seth meet. While their love interest seems to happen fast, you can’t help but cheer, knowing that this is a first in many wonderful things for Jenny. As Jenny and Seth fight for their love; they are plagued by Aisleigh who has goals that involve Seth and doesn’t tolerate dissent in the ranks.
Byron does a FAB job with Aisleigh. A truly despicable young lady, he captures the “mean popular girl” perfectly. Frankly I’ve met people like this and they are as scary in real life as portrayed here. Aisleigh and Bryan don’t make things easy for Jenny and Seth and it makes for some interesting and tense situations.
Jenny’s dad is a another character I enjoyed. Even though he leaves a lot to be desired in the beginning, he “grows” up during the book and begins to help Jenny more then hinder her.
The fact that all three protagonists have powers and none of them knew that about each other makes for a fast paced and nail biting storyline. Religion and fanaticism play an important part in this story; along with conformism and what happens when you rebel against the norm. Bryan gives us little clues to the over all arc and it all comes together nicely if not a little fast & wordy in the end. I do want to add that while touted as a YA I really feel it falls more into an adult section due to the sexual scenes, drug use, and certain topics.
All in all Jenny Pox is an original and bittersweet foray into the supernatural genre. Romance, paranormal, horror, and some teen angst all come together and explode in an amazing twisted ending. I do hope Mr. Bryan writes a sequel. I am very interested in seeing what happens to these characters.