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72 of 76 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2011
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! :)

Word Count: approx. 103,000
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74 of 79 people found the following review helpful
All sorts of people recommended this book to me-friends, writers, book bloggers, people on Goodreads. I have no idea what took me so long to finally get to it, because it is just the kind of book I like. I couldn't read Jenny Pox fast enough!
This book is a lot of different things, not just another paranormal/supernatural romance. There are plenty of grusome images and vivid descriptions to delight a horror lover, plenty of high school antics and cliqueishness for people who like contemporary. There's Southern charm, rednecks, Jesus freaks, old money, mythology, religion, difficult parent/child relationships and yes, a very sweet romance.
The writing was descriptive without being annoyingly so. The dialogue was natural for both teens and people from the South. The characters well-defined.
I just really dug this book and will be first in line for the sequel!
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2012
Great story. At first, I thought this was X-Men without pictures & with boring character powers. Then I thought it was totally a YA novel, with all the boring details about tedious things tweens would want to read about (like the haunted house tours, which were way too long & which should have been edited out). But when the protagonist (finally) learned to harness her power, and discovered the relationship among herself & her powers and those of the other main characters, the story gained momentum. At 75% through, the book gets gripping. Ending totally surprising. This would've been five stars except for the atrocious grammar errors (then/than mistakes, etc), which are most definitely not the result of poor proofreading but of bad writing (lack of professionalism on part of author). Also, the extreme length - at least 40% could've been edited out with no loss of character development or plot - kept this book to three stars. If a reader can skim/skip passages/pages/chapters & not miss anything of importance, then those things can be left out. Still, the story was good enough that I'd read (skim, if I had to) the next book in this series .
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2011
To be honest, I wasn't expecting much from this book. Inexpensive, young adult fiction with a female lead? However, I was surprised and impressed. As I read I kept expecting it to go wrong somewhere, but it never did. While the triangle of the evil, pretty popular girl and good but clueless handsome male lead with a female loser/outcast is common enough, it never felt old here, and it felt like a very fresh take on that sort of thing. More like that typical dynamic was just window dressing for another, deeper dynamic.

While some readers are put off by the sex and drug use in the book, I found the sex scenes relatively tame in the book. I've read smuttier stuff in classic literature. I can't recall there being a single case of graphic female-male penetrative sex in this book. There's mostly instances of nudity, kissing, etc. As for drug use... some of the teenagers smoke pot. There is an incidence of cocaine use, but not by the main characters, and it is in no way portrayed as a good or cool thing to do.

While I don't really see why this book should be marketed specifically as young adult (other than containing teenagers as main cast) it seems perfectly appropriate for a younger teen to read. The facts are, if your teen isn't homeschooled and very sheltered, they encounter kids everyday who smoke marijuana. Who have sex. Keeping them away from this book won't keep them away from mentions of drug use or hearing about explicit sex. I say this is as a college freshman-I can well remember hearing way, way more than I wanted to about people's relationships at high school and even in middle school. Perhaps this book will seem shocking to 40-year old parents out there, but to someone fresh from the perils of high school it's nothing out of the ordinary. The one thing that is unusual romantically/sexually about this book is the female/female dynamics-few young adult books that aren't LGBT focused are willing to include female/female subtext and undertones.

The writing itself is GOOD. If you read a lot of books you get pretty good at seeing how things are going to play out for the characters-that never happened here. I was always being surprised and looking forward to what would happen next. This book keeps you on your toes and is surprisingly suspenseful. I actually don't like getting so invested in what's going to happen to a character-it's rather stressful! I also like that this book focused less on moral absolutes like Good VS Evil and instead illustrated power dynamics and struggles for control.

I was especially impressed with the writer's portrayal of female characters. This book manages to have unique, out-there females without ever straying towards the dreaded Mary Sue syndrome. I have read a lot of young adult novels and most of the female characters either tend towards Mary-Sueism or are trainwrecks (there are notable exceptions, such as girls in The Hunger Games trilogy and other). While the male characters in this story are realistic and can garner emotion and investment from you, it is the women in this story who are the key players, struggling and manipulating and calling the shots without ever seeming unrealistically strong or talented.

-Another reader who can't wait for the next book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 10, 2013
Jenny Morton cannot touch anyone - because the moment she does, the other person breaks out in lesions. Her birth caused the death of her mother; an incident at elementary school scars her forever as "Jenny Pox".

Fast forward to high school. Jenny just tries to make it through a school day and avoid nemesis, Ashleigh Gooding. But she can't keep her eyes off Ashleigh's hot boyfriend, Seth. And then through tragic circumstances, Jenny and Seth meet...

I liked bits and pieces of this a lot, and pretty much the rest made me wonder what the hell I was reading.

The first chapter was amazing. Jenny as a child first learning about her deadly power - wow!! This was brilliantly written! If only the entire book had been that way. There are also some great lines from Jenny about how badly she wants to be able to touch another soul. As I read this, I ached for Jenny, I ached for her longing to touch someone. Again, great stuff - this is what Shatter Me could have been in the hands of a different author. We don't see females getting horrible powers like this; a lot of times, it ends up being something like "healing" or "making people like you", so I like the idea of a teenaged girl getting such a powerful, dark power.

The other part I really liked was Chapter 24. Chapter 24 is the major showdown; it's pretty darned dark - an almost lynching, a MAJOR CHARACTER dying, and another MAJOR CHARACTER causing multiple murders ON PURPOSE. There is tons of blood and gore and violence, lots of anticipation and excitement (is that person gonna escape???), and it even ends on a perfect, tragic, dark note (and usually I'm the "happily ever after" type of girl, but this book could have totally pulled off a darker ending).

However...the rest of this book made me want to tear my hair out in clumps.

Firstly, we have how the book degenerates into yet another high school drama. I get that high school is an important milestone in a teenager's life, even for paranormal teenagers, but I REALLY wanted more of Jenny's strange ability, not all the politics of the high school. Probably the worst, though was Ashleigh Gooding and how unbelievable she was as a character. At first, she was just your regular "rich b***h". But then she became more and more and more cliched, until she was basically carrying a pitchfork and wearing a red tail. Being an evil person to Jenny? Okay, I get it. Taking over the school? Huh? And then why the hell does she even bother to act like a Christian/right-winger? There were plenty of ways she could have been a devout Christian AND STILL been an awful person (they're everywhere). I just hate to see yet another person who dawns the Christianity banner just to use it for deception. And adding racism, hypocrisy (Ashleigh has her boyfriend finger her, but she's "still a virgin"), drug and alcohol usage, and a heap of other negative attributes just makes me feel sorry for her. Even evil characters aren't 100% evil!! And really, Ashleigh's only motivation is lust for power. Seriously, she can't have a better motivation than that?

SIDE NOTE: In fact a lot of the "right-winger" speech sounded fake. And I would know; I used to be in that far right-wing camp and still talk to a lot of people who are still stuck in that camp.

That already made the book a struggle to get through. But at the point that Ashleigh SOMEHOW gives these teenagers a "horny" drug (apparently something from a witch???) during a Halloween party-turned orgy, I lost all willing suspension of disbelief. So now there is witchcraft in this world? Spells and potions can make teenagers horny? Even worse, ONE NIGHT causes OVER 90 girls to get pregnant??? PUH-lease!!

And during this absolutely insane, off-the-wall, out-of-left-field plot change (and this book goes through several - from horror, to generic teenaged drama, to crazy paranormal WTF back to horror and finally to "I gave up"), we get the most boring, irrelevant scenes ever. Jenny's dad's giving up alcohol. Jenny, her dad, and Seth going to Lowe's to fix up the house (yes, this is in the book). Jenny's dad getting a girlfriend (yes, this is in here!!). Ashleigh schmoozing up to some hyperbole right-wing talk show guy (who, of course, smacks Ashleigh on the @$$). Two characters having sex in a "haunted bedroom" - for NO REASON (the "ghost" never makes an appearance in the book). Seth and Jenny wandering a cemetery. The filler in this book was so frustrating. Some of it - such as the ghost story parts - could have been an amazing story by themselves. But they were brought up and dropped. I felt so deflated and disappointed and wondered WHY my time was wasted with them.

But the last two chapters made me want to hang myself. Spoilers, so ye be warned.

Jenny, Seth, and Ashleigh are reincarnated spirits that come back to human bodies to try to fight for power. Jenny and Seth are almost always lovers; Ashleigh is always the bad guy. At the last chapter, Seth, who was SHOT IN THE CHEST, somehow uses his power to not only to heal himself, but also resurrect Jenny. Before, just fixing Jenny's dad, on the brink of death and pulverized by a tractor almost killed him. This makes no sense.

This book also made me upset because at one point, Ashleigh basically uses a "drug" to make a girl give a boy head, and a boy to pleasure her - against both of their wills. The way Ashleigh uses her abilities in general are very "rapey" and made me VERY uncomfortable.

This book had quite a bit of violence, drug/alcohol use, and explicit sex. I understand that teenagers use drugs and have sex, but the scenes in this book went way, way over the top. Reading about teeangers feel each other up? Yeah, that sounds about right. Getting the raw details about a threesome (the basically rape scene I discussed above)? Can we say "startling" (particularly since I was not expecting it)? Having teenagers use marijuana? Yeah, that doesn't sound too unlikely. Having teenagers use coke? That's a whole different ball of wax. And then the number of times the teenagers would drink! I thought it was pretty bad for Jenny, who saw what alcohol did to her father, and yet still she drank quite a bit. I definitely do not recommend this book to younger teenagers, no one under the age of 16 (my opinion: no one under the age of 18).

To the author's credit, the writing is very decent. Jenny was a relatable character; her ability was well-detailed, and her struggle with it well-defined. I also liked how Jenny and her Love Interest actually were friends before they started hopping in the sack.

I feel kinda like I'm missing something; so many people have given this glowing reviews, and here I am picking at this thing to death. I really wanted to like it; I think it was a great concept. There were just so many things that just tweaked me - the Evul, Horrible, Awfulness of Ashleigh, how the story seemed to change every few chapters, how one event led to almost 90 girls getting pregnant, and those final two chapters, which ruined what could have been a nice, dark ending to a dark book.

Maybe it's just me; maybe I'm too cynical. If this sounds like something up your alley, I do hope you enjoy. It wouldn't be something I necessarily recommend, but I have read much, much worse.

Brought to you by:
*C.S. Light*
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 2013
I wish the grammar with Jenny Pox was as polished as it was with the other two books of the series. There's more telling than showing, particularly in the first half of the novel. I'm not a huge fan of Jenny's character, but the overall story is captivating. There was not one instance while reading this book that I thought to put it down. Jenny Pox my least favorite of the series, but it is still a great debut novel. This is one of those books that I was constantly shocked that the author "went there" and then giddy because he did. I'm fairly certain some of the scenes in this book would of been toned down if JL Bryan was published by the Big 6, so in that way, I'm happy he went the self-published route.

Ashleigh is my favorite character in this book. Despite being introduced as a mean girl, she's a villain you can't help but to love. (It was like she touched me through the parchment and suddenly I was like "Ashleigh, I'm gonna go get a sex change so we can make some babies." Midway though the operation, this feeling strangely faded away, and then I was like "Awkward.")

Seth, on the other hand, I can't get into. I don't understand why he falls for Jenny so suddenly, especially considering his relationship with Ashleigh. Granted, he probably has the best excuse ever for cheating.

I would categorize this book as high YA or NA, due to some pretty graphic scenes. If you get offended easily, this might not be the book for you. There's violence, death, and sex. If you're looking for a different sort of paranormal romance, then Jenny Pox might be for you. (B)
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67 of 86 people found the following review helpful
Jenny Pox by J.L. Bryan is a self-published young adult that has a great deal of buzz behind it, so much so that Amanda Hocking has praised the book. I also have seen many positive reviews of this book on the blogs I visit. With that in mind, I purchased a copy of Jenny Pox, expecting to read greatness. Unfortunately disappointing isn't a good enough word to describe Jenny Pox.

Jenny Pox suffers from an incredible concept that cannot deliver, as well as a major lack of depth, one-dimensional characters and motivations that don't make sense and had me going, "huh?" most of the time. Plus, by having some disturbing and shocking scenes where sex and a large amount of drug use is shown for no reason to further along the story, I can't help but wonder if the author is trying too hard to keep readers interested. At one point I had to stop reading and almost gagged over a very sexually wretched scene that turned me off where I came close to DNFing. But I carried on, hoping the story would be redeemed. It didn't happen and I ended up DNFing Jenny Pox regardless.

The title is very appropriate and the only positive thing about this tale. The heroine Jenny is an outcast, not only because she's poor and has an alcoholic father, but she can't touch anyone. She has the plague and ended up killing her mother and the doctors and nurses that touched her when she was born. We see early on what Jenny is capable of by handling a snake that dies a violent death.

Years later, Jenny has come to terms with her ability. She wears gloves and long sleeves even in the brutal heat to protect anyone who may come in contact with her. Jenny is an overall sweet girl, although at times rages at the injustice of her life. She has a bully, or more of an enemy, with the very popular, seemingly wholesome and self-righteous Ashleigh. Everyone adores Ashleigh, who teaches abstinence and the Lord's good word to her fellow students. Ashleigh's boyfriend Seth, another popular boy who comes from a very rich family that rules of the town, isn't cruel, but since he's aligned with Ashleigh, he's admired. Jenny dislikes Ashleigh as much as she hates Jenny, and makes Jenny's life miserable at school by calling her the nickname- Jenny Mittens.

Jenny doesn't really like Seth, until her beloved dog is run over. Seth comes to her aid and heals her dog by placing his hands on it. Seth has the power of healing and can counteract Jenny's power of sickness and death. Seth is the only one she can touch without gloves, and because of that they fall in love.

Ashleigh finds out that Seth and Jenny have grown close, and since she can't stand to lose in any situation, she will steal Seth back. Ashleigh also has a power at her fingertips- the power of love. But, she wields this power in evil ways. With one touch she can drug people with love and in turn they end up loving Ashleigh. Since Seth and Jenny know what Ashleigh is capable of, they team up together and try to show their friends and others that Ashleigh is evil. But since Ashleigh is great at being manipulative, she figures out a way to turn everyone against Seth and Jenny. Jenny has had enough, and the girl who has been put down and ridiculed most of her life is sick and tired and decides to show the world what she's made of.

Jenny Pox has a strong element of Stephen King's Carrie as well as the movie X-Men. You have characters who have amazing powers that if known about, would most likely be experimented on and used as a weapon. That's the only highlight of Jenny Pox. Other than that, this is a story that's so very lacking from beginning to end. The biggest problem is the characters. They come across as flat with no real motivation. Jenny has some spirit and initiative, but her attraction to Seth is laughable. There isn't enough between them to build upon it. Seth comes in and out of each scene like a soft breeze and one that is very forgettable. As for Ashleigh, can we say cartoonish? Her actions had me rolling my eyes more than a few times. We see her as spoiled, a maniacal bad seed. She has a major lack of well-rounded character traits. At one point I wished Jenny would just give her a hug with no clothes on and take her out so the story would be over sooner than later.

Jenny Pox also suffers from what I call, "everything but the kitchen sink" syndrome. This is when an author will write in as many shocking acts as they can think of from to keep the reader interested. Not only do we have massive amounts of drug use, (oh look! The teens do coke and smoke pot while drinking wine. Tsk tsk.) but the sexual situations are so out there. The one scene I mentioned earlier is so sudden and out of left field that it had WTFckery written all over it. It simply made no sense being there other than to jolt the reader's sensibilities. And because I couldn't sympathize or connect with any of the characters, including Jenny, I felt uninvolved and distant by everything that was occurring.

Some may call this supernatural horror that walks a fine line since it's a young adult, but even with the small town mentality and religious matter than is close to fanatical; I was more dumbed down if anything. I couldn't say if the ending was where Jenny gave all those people who were cruel to her their just desserts, but I have the feeling if I made it that far, I'd just end up rolling my eyes again like I did the entire time I read. Jenny Pox is one forgettable read that could have been a winner.

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2013

This book started out very interesting with a great concept. We have Jenny who unfortunately cannot touch anyone without turning them into a pile of puss filled sack of bones.She lives with her father who has self medicated the pain of losing his wife with alcohol since her birth. And we have Ashley, sitting on top of the high school food chain and has the ability to make everyone love and lust for her or who ever she directs her invisible arrows at. And of course the boy, Seth, handsome, wealthy, and his ability is healing and resurrection.

Of course its a love triangle set for a hot plate of disaster. A lot of religious references...Christianity...abstinence ....anti-abortion...blood and goreeeee....sexual scenes...drug use....alcoholism was very XMEN meets Carrie then meets Steven Spielbergs version of Bring it On then flirts with MTV Pregnant at head spun .

I never was really pulled in, I glided over the pages, watched from afar. Seth and Jenny happened so quickly, their relationship had no depth and then the ending....although, I like the
concept of why and how the new info revealed made would have been great to incorporate that into the story more and little less of Ashley and her abstinence campaign.

Bottom line is I made it to the end, although, many times I wanted to put it down and walk away. I had many WTH moments. I cannot recommend this to my YA niece since I think it may be a bit inappropriate. I do not regret my time reading it since I did appreciate the story,the idea ...but it could not really.get me there to pick up more books in this series.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2013
I would not let my teen read this book. It featured teens drinking, having threesomes, snorting coke, and murdering people. It started out well as a paranormal romance and then turned to trash. The ending was horrible. I'm glad I didn't pay for it.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2012
My main question this series is, 'who's the audience?' For horror, it wasn't scary. For young adult there was too much graphic sex and drug use. For adults there was no depth. I also learned about the author. The way I see it, he doesn't like organized religion. The major religious characters were scam artists, literally. He doesn't like southerners, since all save the 'good' characters were horrible stereotypes. He doesn't want people to think he's racist, since all of the 'bad' characters dislike Hispanics, but the one major Hispanic character is used for a plot device and is then in a coma the rest of the book. He doesn't think drugs are bad, as all the 'good' characters use them, and even states that you need to do cocaine 'like hundreds of times' to become addicted.

Does the author honestly believe that statement, or do Jenny and the others possess certain resistances and strengths? It needs a good editor and it needs to be better paced. The sex scenes are another issue. The first one shows how the villain controls those around her, but it didn't need to be so graphic.

I'm giving it two stars since I liked the idea of what the main characters are, but it's never fully developed. I also loved the zombie field workers. The series, however, ends on a strange note. Yes, they won, but for how long? Why is that a win? Will they resolve the problem in the next reincarnation? I'm not sorry I read the books, but I just can't recommend them to anyone.
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