Jenny Pox (The Paranormals, #1) - J.L. Bryan 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 [b:Shatter Me|10429045|Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1)|Tahereh Mafi||15333458] 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).

At the end of the book, Jenny throws herself in a well and drowns. This would have made for an EXCELLENT 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? Okay, so she's an EVUL reincarnated spirit lusting for power, but really, same difference.

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 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 ABSOLUTELY 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.