Sunday Spotlight – Jenny Pox

My posting this week will be a bit limited as I bounce from the Great White North back down to Georgia for work travel all week, but I didn’t want to leave you without a Sunday Spotlight. And this one’s super-fresh because I just finished this book on the plane. Jenny Pox by JL Bryan – wow, what a roller coaster ride.

The blurb from Smashwords goes like this – Jenny has a secret. Her touch spreads a deadly supernatural plague. She devotes her life to avoiding contact with people, but her senior year of high school, she falls in love with the one boy she can touch. But he’s under the spell of his devious girlfriend Ashleigh, who secretly wields the most dangerous power of all. Now Jenny must master the “Jenny pox” before Ashleigh can destroy her.

I picked up the book because it had gotten some great responses on a couple of message boards I frequent, but put off getting started because it sounded a little too chick-flick, Lifetime movie for me. I couldn’t have been more wrong. JL Bryan has written a book that runs the gamut from young adult romance to revenge thriller to horror novel to grand fantasy epic love story, and doesn’t miss on any fronts. I was, quite simply, blown away.

I grew up in rural SC, so I’m a little touchy about people writing about rednecks from my home state. Bryan captures the class separation in the rural South beautifully, and paints a totally realistic picture of what life is like when the haves target the have-nots for torment. Throw in the fact that Jenny, the main character, really is a freak of nature with poisonous hands, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster like I haven’t read in years.

Seriously, kids, this book kicks ass. It’s old-school Stephen King good, before he got hit by a car and started thinking too many deep thoughts. This is Pet Sematary and Needful Things kinda good. Jenny Morton is the hero, the kid you love despite all the crap she does that’s not lovable. That’s where Bryan excels – he paints realistic heroes. Jenny steals her dad’s weed when life gets to be too much, and has nasty thoughts of revenge when people do mean things to her. She’s not some wimpy little chickadee that butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, and that’s what makes the book all the better. The cast of supporting characters is solid, too, but it’s the villain of the piece that gets some of the best attention. She’s as fully realized as Jenny, a nasty little bitch that you hope against hope for most of the book that she gets what’s coming to her.

I’m not going to give away any plotlines, because that’s just shitty, but the climactic confrontation is every bit as scorched-earth badass as anything I’ve read in a long, long time. This is a book that you should all go buy, because it’s a hell of a thrill ride!

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