“Jenny Pox” by J. L. Bryan

The cover of Jenny PoxJenny Pox
by J. L. Bryan
(2010)

I thought about not reviewing this book because I do not want to give it additional name recognition. But such is procrastination from my work: I not only read the book, I am now gong to tell you all about the experience.

The book’s premise is a high school drama with a few magical powers thrown in. It seemed like a fun quick read.

After reading it, my final conclusion is that if this is common for young adult fiction, I can see why so many people like Twilight. I didn’t like Twilight but it is orders of magnitude better – in writing style, in characterization, and in plot – than Jenny Pox.

Despite being relatively short, Jenny Pox reads like three books. Not complete books, no, but three sections that have very different writers with very different opinions on character and style and plot. It starts off quite well and is enjoyable for about the first third of the book and then doesn’t so much go down hill as fall off the edge of a cliff and hit bottom a long ways down.

And because I think it was awful and not worth reading, I have no compunction about give spoilers.

The first author is actually quite good. Our main character is a teenage girl. Her magical power is that everything she touches gets sick and dies. Her mother died just giving birth to her. It’s a metaphor for teenage angst that is about as subtle as a brick to the head, but the main character stays strong through it. She’s not emo; she wears gloves. She works around the problem, and then there’s a budding romance with a cute guy who turns out to be magically immune. Despite the somewhat ludicrous situation, it’s well written and draws the reader in.

Then the second author starts. Suddenly the cliquish and nasty behavior of the popular crowd turns into an over-the-top evil, planning to take over the world while magically drugging all the other school children into date-raping each other. Semi-graphically. They’re just minions, though, so it’s not until the cute guy is killed that our protagonist decides that the proper reaction to the situation is to kill everyone, adults and kids alike, in a massacre of revenge. Graphically.

I’m getting progressively more appalled as I read but since I’m most of the way through (and still procrastinating from my real work), I figure I’ll continue.

At which point the third author takes over. There’s three chapters of information-dump in which the reader is told about a culture of magical beings who are possibly deities and who reincarnate through time and fight each other for no particular reason and its all very mystical. Our protagonist and her love interest are both part of that culture and are now deeply in love and are going to go off together as half-human/half-crazy-mystical-deity-type-beings to track down other crazy-mystical-deity-type-beings, probably to kill them.

The end.

I am pretty much left gaping at this point. Did the editor not read past the first third of the book?

My suggestion is:

If you see this book on a bookshelf and it looks interesting or if you want to read something with high school drama and a bit of magical powers thrown in, read something by Meg Cabot or Jenny Carroll instead.

One comment on ““Jenny Pox” by J. L. Bryan

  1. Anna says:

    I like the name “Jenny Pox,” at least. And thanks for taking one for the team on this one and warning us all off of it!

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