Monday, November 7, 2011

Jenny Pox by J.L. Bryan (GUEST REVIEW)

Thanks to NaNoWriMo, please be advised that Book Brats might have a few more guest reviews than normal. Please welcome back UK Correspondent Rebecca (follower on Twitter @mephster) and check out her review of JL Bryan's JENNY POX, book one in the Jenny Pox series!

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.

Published July 24th, 2009 by CreateSpace
292 Pages

Jenny Pox is another one of those novels I downloaded to my kindle because it was free, which I am fully happy to admit. The blurb really didn’t inspire too much hope in me, but I picked it for something to read in the afternoon with a nice cuppa and possibly replace with another after the first few pages because I can’t stand the writing. For once, I am glad to have been proven wrong. Perhaps the old adage ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ should begin to be adapted to ‘don’t judge a book by its badly written description’. 

At first, I was convinced that Jenny Pox would be another one of those novels jumping on the bandwagon of ‘Rogue-esque’ powers, wherein they are unable to touch anybody. I was pleasantly surprised to find a very dark novel, with well-developed and believable characters with all the flaws and back handed arseyness of real teenagers. The plot itself isn’t the strongest and is in fact a bit clichéd (girl has problem, girl meets unattainable boy with a bitch/popular girlfriend, bitch/popular girlfriend attempts vengeance, girl kills everything in her path…mostly cliché, then) but it’s a very easy read and the violence isn’t as overwhelming as might be expected. 

I felt the religious slant of the antagonistic Ashleigh was a little heavy handed but I’m really putting that down to my contact with religion being limited to being stopped in the street and told I’m going to burn in hell for my lack of belief…but in a polite way. I’d normally give the writer the benefit of the doubt, seeing as the character in question (to my eyes at least) was using the religion bent for the power and little else. At least to me, the angle works. It gives what would otherwise be a run of the mill YA novel standard bitch archetype a more sinister edge. Maybe I’m reading a little too much into it, but hey, it added something and I am not one to look a gift horse in the mouth.

All in all, I’d give Jenny Pox 4*. It’s not perfect, but few novels are. The characters are flawed and human, with complexities that are rarely found in YA fiction. 


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