Tuesday, January 3, 2012

REVIEW: Jenny Pox by JL Bryan

NOTE: This review will contain spoilers.

Description: Jenny's touch spreads a deadly supernatural plague. She can't control her power, so she devotes her life to avoiding contact with other people in her small Southern town. Her senior year of high school, she meets the one boy she can touch...but if she's going to be with him, Jenny must learn to use the "Jenny pox" inside her to survive his devious, manipulative girlfriend, who secretly wields the most dangerous power of all.

My Thoughts: Wow, I am so blown away by and in love with this book. Firstly, readers should know that, while this book centers around high school characters, it is not YA and is not recommended for people under eighteen by its author. A good thing, because I was going, "...uh, Aud's not kidding about YA going into some dark places, damn." Secondly, I read It at the age of eleven and haven't turned into a serial killer yet, you'll be fine. Jenny Pox is too good for you not to read it based upon genre expectations. The heroine, Jenny Morton, seems at first glance to be your basic high school misfit made even more physically monstrous based upon her ability to kill with a touch. Her enemy, Ashleigh, doesn't seem to be anything more than the typical bitchy cheerleader who plays upon her looks and a certain superficial charm to get what she wants. Ashleigh's boyfriend, Seth, is the dumb jock that our misfit heroine is inexplicably attracted to even though he's a giant tool.

None of this is actually true.

Jenny Morton is a good person, but she's not passive and shy by nature the way that most heroines of her trope are. Ashleigh trades on her sex appeal, but she has the ability to drive people so wild with lust that they'll do anything for her, right down to committing murder, and she's not interested in getting a hot date for prom. Ashleigh wants to rule the world; if she's not stopped while she's young, she has a good chance of doing it. Seth is a dim bulb (and the book doesn't try to pretend otherwise, up until the very last chapter when it does), but his surface assholery is due to Ashleigh's mind control. Left to his own devices, he's actually very sweet, even though his power doesn't come anywhere near the destructive potential of Jenny and Ashleigh. And that is why I adore this book. The two girls have pee-down-your-leg terrifying abilities, and neither of them is rewarded for thinking small in their use of them. Jenny gets rapped on the knuckles pretty hard for thinking like a hometown girl while Ashleigh is ranging so far ahead, is smarter than Seth (which both Jenny and Seth acknowledge and don't have ego-boo moments over), and unleashes one of the most gripping climaxes I've ever read when she finally settles in to use them. I actually would have preferred that Poor Doomed Seth stayed dead, because I liked the goodnatured and strangely normal (phenomenal cosmic power and all) boy more than I did the omniscient godling, but that's such a minor nit against such a great book.

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