Sunday, June 16, 2013

JENNY POX by J.L. Bryan

Jenny Pox
Jenny Pox
(The Paranormals, #1)
by J.L. Bryan

Avoid her
like the plague.

It’s hard for me to be utterly blown away by anything anymore. With most of the common themes being rehashed to death and abck again, there's literally nothing that comes out of the woodwork and strikes me right in the face. I'd heard about one author who was making big strides in the Kindle publishing world, and had even read a bit of his novel I'm about to review before I actually sat down and read it straight through months later, but I never would have anticipated being so impressed.

Let me tell you, I'm so glad I did.

Jenny Pox is to 2000s like Stephen King's Carrie was to its time period--raw, visceral, gritty, a dirty slate amongst the commonly-portrayed 'good times' of high school. Told from the view of Jenny Morton, who possesses the power to cause infectious disease and then kill with her touch, we follow her story through her sophomore year of high school and the trials and tribulations that come with it. Ashley--mean girl number one--is amping up her game, and when Ashley's boyfriend, Seth, forms an unusual relationship with Jenny after a chance incident along the side of a winding road, Jenny will come to find out that the roots of her small North Carolinan town may be filled with more than just the greed for money and power.

I'll start off by saying that Jenny Pox is not what you'd expect. Going into it, I thought I was about to read a young adult book (given the age of the characters and the overall scenario,) but quickly found that to be quite the opposite when mentions of cannabis, alcohol, graphic depictions of sex and brutal depictions of gore came into play. I compared it to Carrie for a reason. This isn't your run-of-the-mill young adult novel. This is fully one for the adults, which I think makes it so much more powerful. Told from a young adult perspective, this would've been a much weaker book, as it would have glossed over the realistic details that are far too prevalent within the real world. The power wrought within Jenny's condition and her overall coping mechanisms in a town where everyone knows and despises her makes her an extremely dynamic character that you feel instantly connected with.

The writing--genius. It's striped down in a way that strikes envy into the reader. It isn't often coated with rich, verbose description--the purple prose most associate with the idea of writing talent. Rather, it's armed with the casual, straightforward tone that a young girl would use -- and for that it paints the picture within in a much more realistic light. The shining moments of clever description are true gems within this novel and truly mark J.L. Bryan as the witty, clever and masterful storyteller that he is.

Finally, though, I have to mention: the ending. I won't spoil it for you, but let me just put it this way: this is the way Stephen King's Carrie should have ended. The complete refusal of censorship makes this one hell of a shocking ending, which instantly left me wanting more.

Brutal, intense, unrelenting in its portrayal of the human condition--Jenny Pox is what Carrie should have been, and is absolutely terrifying while doing so.

* * * * *
5 Stars
Get Jenny Pox
in paperback (left) or Kindle (right)

Reviewer's notation: I downloaded Jenny Pox for free on

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