Sunday, January 2, 2011

Review and Q&A: Jenny Pox by J.L. Bryan

Jenny Pox
by J.L. Bryan

Genre:  Supernatural Urban Fantasy/Horror
Formats avail:  ebook, paperback
Publication Date: July 24, 2009
Word Count: approx.  103,220 (Novel)
Page count on Sony Reader:  281
Print Length: 292 pgs
Source:  ebook provided by author

DESCRIPTION from Goodreads:
Jenny is a shy, small-town South Carolina girl whose touch spreads a deadly supernatural plague. She can't touch anyone for long without killing them. Her life is painfully lonely until she meets a boy named Seth with the opposite power, a healing touch. Jenny's love for Seth brings the wrath of Seth's beautiful, popular and devious girlfriend, Ashleigh, who secretly wields the most dangerous power of all--the power to inspire love.

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Do you hear that slurping sound? That's me…getting sucked into this book.

The three main characters in this story are Jenny, Seth, and Ashleigh. Each wields a different supernatural power. At first they don't know this about each other but soon they discover each other's secret. Jenny and Seth just want a normal life, but Ashleigh has other plans. Their lives are intertwined more than they realize and eventually Ashleigh's evil intentions are discovered. Jenny and Seth are the only ones who can stop her.

Jenny is the shy loner -- by necessity. She cannot touch anyone without giving them a disgusting pox or even, ya know...killing them. She has to cover her bare skin even in the summer and wear gloves at all times, hence the cruel "Jenny Mittens" nickname her classmates give her. The first couple of chapters set the stage for how Jenny has grown up living a lonely life, never able to touch or be touched without deadly consequences. I did kind of wonder how she could get through grade school unsupervised without being touched (except for the one incident between her and Ashleigh) and her power being discovered, but I decided to go with the flow and assume she was able to do this.

Seth has the opposite power to Jenny. He can heal with his touch. Their powers seem to cancel each other out and he is the only person Jenny can touch. Seth starts out as a bit of a jerk but you soon realize he is not quite himself because of Ashleigh. He turns out to be stand-up guy. Seth actually likes Jenny, and Ashleigh is none too happy about it.

Ashleigh's power is to make people feel for her or love for each other. She is like an evil and selfish cupid. People become her puppets and she uses this power for her own selfish reasons regardless of the consequences to that person. She is the ultimate mean girl: nasty, manipulative, cruel, devious, power hungry, selfish, and vengeful. She has no remorse and no redeemable qualities. Nothing and nobody will get in her way to get what she wants. She is the character you love to hate.

At 103K words, this is a fairly long novel, but it read very quickly as I was totally absorbed by the story. At one point I had to stop to recharge my ereader and I was impatient to get back to it. There were times when there was more description than I would like as I'm more of a dialogue kinda gal, but it still held my interest. This book is labeled horror and for most of the book I didn't really see it that way, but when you get to the Carrie-like climactic scene you can see why it might be considered horror. It was pretty gross, but given Jenny's power of inflicting an instant plague-like disease on people, it makes sense that it played out this way.

The main characters are in high school and much of the story revolves around the school environment so you might take this as a YA book. However, I would probably recommend this book to the older end of the teen audience or adults as it does have quite a bit of casual drug use and a couple of brief sex scenes.

So, overall I thought this was a well-written and absorbing story. There were actually quite a few typos but I was so into the story that they did not distract me like they usually do. If you like stories with superpowers, high school angst, villainous mean girls, a sweet romance, and a dash of the horrific (and don't mind the gross factor), then you might like this one. Oh, and there’s a dog in the story – just icing on the cake! :)

Rating: 5 - I LOVED IT!

Typos found: 24

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This book is available in both paperback and ebook versions.  You can find J.L. Bryan on the web at:


Get the book!
Amazon, B&N, Smashwords

Find it on Goodreads HERE!

Some other books by J.L. Bryan:

Dark Tomorrows 


Mid-Afternoon: The Overhyped, Ultra-Sexy, Chilling, Frightening, Blood-Curling Tale Regarding the Latter Day Vampires

Coming in 2011:

The Haunted E-Book

Jenny Pox, Book 2

Q&A with J.L.  Bryan

IPBR: What inspired the idea for this story?
JL: The idea for Jenny Pox came all at once.  It started with the idea of this girl who couldn’t touch anyone without killing them, and what her life might be like, all the little struggles she would have to deal with in order to avoid touching anyone.  And the emotional implications of that.

IPBR: How did you decide which powers Seth and Ashleigh would have?  Were there other powers in consideration?
JL: Everything grew out of Jenny.  Seth has the opposite power from Jenny.  Ashleigh had a power that was suited to her character.  I did try to base them on some ancient mythology—the kinds of powers gods or other supernatural beings were said to have.  So there are gods and goddesses associated with pestilence, healing and love, these kinds of universal human experiences.

IPBR: If you could choose a supernatural power, what would it be and why?
JL: I think it would be cool to be invisible.  Or fly.  Or invincible, because you could play a lot of practical jokes with the power of invincibility.

IPBR: What would you like readers to come away with after reading Jenny Pox?
JL: I hope that they enjoyed the book and that they feel the experience was an enriching one.

IPBR: Is there a particular scene or line from Jenny Pox that is your favorite?
JL: Probably the one where Seth heals Rocky.  There’s a lot going on there, especially Jenny discovering that other people have powers like hers.  She’s not the only one in town with huge secrets.

IPBR: Will there be another Jenny Pox book? If yes, is there an expected release date and can you tell us a little of what it will be about? 
JL: Yes, I’ve just started on a sequel, and I expect it to be out by the beginning of summer 2011.  One obvious thing about the sequel is that the first story ended with some new questions being raised—such as, if Seth and Jenny are opposites, then where is Ashleigh’s opposite?  We find out all about that person in the new book.

Lightening round just for fun…
Vampires or Werewolves?  Werewolves!
Ebooks or Print Books?  Ebooks
Comedy or Drama?  Comedy.  Real life is full of enough drama.
Chocolate or Vanilla?  Chocolate.
Cats or Dogs?  Tough one.  I have two of each.  I may have to go with cats, though—they’re independent and don’t mind if I’m busy all the time.

Thanks JL!

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