author: J.L. Bryan
series: The Paranormals #1
published: 24 July 2010
genre(s): fantasy, horror, romance
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Jenny is a shy, small-town girl whose touch spreads a deadly supernatural plague. She can't touch anyone without hurting or killing them. Her life is 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 popular and manipulative girlfriend Ashleigh, who secretly wields the most dangerous power of all.
Jenny Pox opens with an intense and disturbing scene that introduces us to Jenny as a toddler, playing with a dangerous snake. It is soon evident that Jenny is no normal little girl when she inadvertently kills the snake in her fear. When she runs into the house to show her father her now-dead “toy”, it is quickly established how much of an outsider Jenny is, even in her own house. In order to comfort her, her father has to don his “cuddle suit” just to be able to hold her. That inability to touch another living creature sets the tone of the story from the very beginning. Jenny has grown up with certain rules that normal little girls don’t have. She can never touch anyone without risking their lives, and she can tell no one about her power. She has been bullied her entire life, with no friends and no life apart from her father and her beloved pottery. When she meets Seth, the one person with whom she can share her secret, her life changes irrevocably. He understands, because he has a secret power of his own, one that no one in his life knows about. The only problem is that he already has a girlfriend, Ashleigh, who is controlling, manipulative, judgemental, and completely self-centered. Those traits, combined with a power of her own, make her the biggest threat to everyone around her.
From the moment I began this book, I was enthralled! The writing quality was exceptional, drawing you in from the very beginning and making you feel as if you were in Fallen Oaks with the characters. Jenny Pox has a little bit of everything in it: teenage drama, dysfunctional families, bigotry, religious struggle, sex, drugs, and even some rock ‘n roll. The unexpected twists and turns throughout the story kept it fresh and exciting. I was enchanted with the development of the characters as the story progressed. The minor characters were just as well-developed as the main characters of Seth, Jenny, and Ashleigh. In fact, one of my favorites was Jenny’s father. Despite his obvious shortcomings, the love and acceptance he had for his daughter was beautiful. Jenny was the most relatable; her personal story evoking some strong emotions of sympathy from the reader. Seth was equally engaging as a character, as he struggled between choosing Jenny from his heart or Ashleigh because of family expectation. Ashleigh was perfectly fleshed out as the evil nemesis, a combination of seductress and sorceress.
Everything came together at the end, but it did leave me with some unanswered questions. I am truly hoping that this means that there will be a sequel, more of Jenny, Seth, and Ashleigh. I literally couldn’t put this book down! And Jenny has a blog, too, so check it out here!