Genre: YA, Fantasy
Publisher: Amulet Books on August 8, 2017
My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.
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…
If you’ve been looking for the next YA fantasy hit, look no further. Here are 5 reasons to read THE EPIC CRUSH OF GENIE LO.
1. An Awesome Protagonist
16 year-old Genie Lo is hell-bent on having a better life than her parents, and she has her plan all mapped out: perfect grades, a star place on the varsity volleyball team, and volunteering at the local library are her ticket into an Ivy League school. But the arrival of a very strange guy named Quentin – and the slew of demons in hot pursuit – throws a wrench into those plans. Unlike a lot of teens in fiction, Genie is very focused on school and her future; she’s struggling to balance everything and while she sometimes handles it with grace, more often than not she loses her cool. But even when you want to shout at her, Genie is hilarious and her decisions make a certain kind of sense. I dare you not to love her!
2. Chinese Mythology
When Quentin, the exchange student from hell, shows up, Genie starts wishing she’d paid more attention to the Chinese stories her mom told her because he claims to be a central figure in them…and Genie’s actually starting to believe him. F. C. Yee does a fantastic job incorporating Chinese mythology into the story and although I knew a few pieces of the original story, I was still surprised by the direction it took here. THE EPIC CRUSH OF GENIE LO features an impressive blend of classic mythology and urban fantasy tropes that will satisfy contemporary fans and fantasy readers alike. Fans of Buffy will love this.
3. Realistic Teenage Life
For a book about gods, demon slaying, and a magical staff, THE EPIC CRUSH OF GENIE LO is surprisingly realistic. Sure, Genie may have a few…special abilities, but at the heart of it she’s a normal teenager. She hangs out with her BFF Yunie at lunch and after school, she has a strained but loving relationship with her parents, and she occasionally screws up and makes mistakes. Getting into a great college is always at the back of her mind and it was refreshing to see that reality actually acknowledged in a YA novel.
4. Winning Humour
From the very first scene to the last, Genie’s voice had me cracking up. Her narration is witty and bitingly sarcastic, and her observations on what it is to be a teenager and Chinese-American had me in stitches. Obviously I can’t speak to the accuracy of her statements, but they felt very authentic based on what I’ve seen around me (and I’ve seen lots of Chinese and East Asian bloggers praising the representation here). There are a ton of examples that I could pull out, but my personal favourite was her reflection on the name “Eugenia” and its prevalence among the kids of Asian American parents. I legit laughed out loud…in public.
5. Strong Women Everywhere
Genie herself is hard working, tough, and yes, she’s also insanely strong physically. But this isn’t a story about one special young woman who fights every battle on her own: Genie has lots of other badass ladies backing her up. When things go sideways and the demon slaying gets too overwhelming, a certain Chinese goddess comes down from on high to help a girl out. Human girls are pretty boss in this story too, and Yunie is definitely gunning for “fictional best friend of the year” with her sass, protectiveness, and ability to call Genie out when needed.
With all these reasons (and more!) to pick it up, what are you waiting for? Go snag your copy of F.C. Yee’s THE EPIC CRUSH OF GENIE LO now!