Title: The Epic Crush of Genie Lo
Author: F. C. Yee
Expected Publication Date: August 8, 2017
Publisher: Amulet Books
Rating: ★★★★★/ 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy YA
The struggle to get into a top-tier college consumes sixteen-year-old Genie Lo’s every waking thought. But when her sleepy Bay Area town comes under siege from hell-spawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are suddenly and forcefully rearranged.
Her only guide to the demonic chaos breaking out around her is Quentin Sun, a beguiling, maddening new transfer student from overseas. Quentin assures Genie she is strong enough to fight these monsters, for she unknowingly harbors an inner power that can level the very gates of Heaven.
Genie will have to dig deep within herself to summon the otherworldly strength that Quentin keeps talking about. But as she does, she finds the secret of her true nature is entwined with his, in a way she could never have imagined…
“Enough wasting of time,” he snapped. “I came to these petty halls only to reclaim what is mine.”
I received a free eARC from Netgalley in exchange of an honest review.
Let’s start by a little disclaimer that this book absolutely crushed me in the best ways possible and this review is going to be basically me dissecting the things that made me holler with joy.
The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is a fantasy book set in modern day San Fransisco. It’s narrated by one exceptional girl named Genie Lo who’s sixteen and is kickass as hell. Pun… intended?
Chosen one? In my literature?
First of all, the culture embedded in this book made me super happy. A Chinese girl, who was tall and tough and super hilarious? Sign me the heck up. I love me a good fantasy book with a Chosen One, but most of the ones I’ve read have bored me because they’re about white boys! Sorry, but Genie Lo is the only Chosen One allowed to save me, why? Because she fucking earned it.
The underlying story behind Genie Lo’s ascension from weapon to human made me actually tear up because it spoke of so much determination that suited Genie. That kind of thinking is so unlike my own but it did not stop me from relating to her on a deeper level. Genie’s got a somewhat practical way of thinking: She’s getting into a top-tier college, no matter what, because it’s what she wants, hence she is determined and focused. I love that about her. She actually inspires me to be more engaged in my own goals in university and after. In 24 hours, Genie Lo managed to be my bigger inspiration. I have to hand it to Yee for creating a female character that not once failed to make me cackle with laughter but also cringe with worry because she might get hurt. Protection squad of Genie Lo? Sign me up as the LEADER.
Genie is so complex whether in her pursuit of a higher education, visiting her dad at where he works, recognizing that her mother and her share a squabble of a relationship that was so god damn amazing, thinking things like, ““I guess one of the reasons why I study as much as I do is to keep my options open.” There. A better answer than screaming I just wanna be somebody! like a chorus member from a forties musical.” Which is so god damn relatable. Genie’s narration is probably one of the very few I read that resonated and stayed constant and hilarious throughout the whole thing. Even when she put herself down hard after a failure, I couldn’t help but root for her. I knew she’d pull though and the process she goes through in the book is one that left me immensely happy.
Even Genie’s height and weight were somewhat of a point of insecurity that she didn’t mind poking fun at, but was defensive when others did, which is… come on, understandable 101. I liked the way she came to term with her strength not only as a kickass hero but also as a regular 16 year old Genie Lo.
Chinese Folklore is not a topic I’m very well read about so having it be the background on which the fantasy was set in this book was an amazing way. Any reader who isn’t familiar, like myself, will appreciate the fun way Yee introduced the gods.
The godly characters came in a great variation of good and bad that kept me both entertained and rooting for them.
We’ve got Guanyin, the Bodhisattva who declined Enlightenment because she’s the Goddess of Getting Things Done. I especially liked the lines of similarities than ran between Genie and Guanyin, it humanized Guanyin so nicely that from an observant character, she turned into someone I trusted to take care of my Genie, you know?
There is also Erlang Shen who’s a god of… Rain. I’m bad at this, I apologize. He is another “godly” character who shows up most of the time with Guanyin and bestows awfully good wisdom to Genie about how to handle her newly awakened and hence awkward powers.
Quentin and Genie VS. The World
I freaking love these two, they have to be my new favorite demon fighting duo who have some rough patches in the beginning because come on, he kind of is eccentric as heck considering who he really is, and is not the best at approaching people. Quentin’s first meeting with Genie cracked me the heck up although I did wrinkle my nose at how he stalked her. The only reason this did not hinder my liking of the book is that Genie handled herself amazingly and it showed that Quentin never did it out of weird reasons such as actually snooping on Genie, he simply was that eager to be reunited with his precious… *Gollum grin*
What impressed me is how these two developed from a “Who the fuck are you” relationship to “Why would I invite another guy and not Quentin” in like… amazing time. I did not feel for one second that they forced a partnership, rather their reluctance made me giggle. They really are seriously compatible. Even in the very end, Quentin was hurt that Genie thought he’d ever suggest something he knew she was adamant again. Quentin never forces her to go beyond her comfort and boundaries in unlocking her forgotten powers, which made me so happy.
What you should expect from this book:
- Genie, as a Chinese girl discussing the feeling of being one in a sea of many other Chinese students striving for the spot at colleges.
- Incredible friendship in which Genie never puts aside her best friend Yunie but can’t help that she gets overwhelmed.
- Genie dealing with divorced parents, although they don’t fight, there is still tension.
- Hilarious dialogue from basically every freaking character.
- Yunie being the best best best friend anyone can ever have.
- Quentin being really good with kids.
- Quentin and Genie’s mom… It’s freaking adorable.
- Quentin saying bullshit like “It’s amazing!” about a peach/apricot hybrid… Seriously, this dude is the cutest.
- Action scenes better than Naruto! Actually, cloning scenes better than Naruto too because… There’s KISSING! HA!
- Vivid imagery that left me yearning to go jumping on Quentin’s back…
- Outspoken heroine that not once did she leave me thinking “Come on, Genie, just say it!”
- A plot twist! Yes! Good stuff
Okay, before I start shoving this book down everyone’s throats. I’m thinking of doing a giveaway of this one or something… Maybe when I get any sort of money…
Links to other reviews from marginalized teens: