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The Epic Crush of Genie Lo (New Series) Hardcover – August 8, 2017
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From School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Genie Lo lives in Silicon Valley, but not the nice part. All she wants is to get into the Ivy League so she can escape. But then Quentin, the weird new kid at school, tells her that he's really the Monkey King and she is the human reincarnation of his weapon, the Ruyi Jingu Bang. In response, she punches him the face. Unfortunately for both of them, 108 demons have escaped from hell, and they need to track them down to save the world. Genie needs a crash course not only in demon fighting, but also in Chinese mythology—she has never read Journey to the West or seen one of the myriad movies. With the occasional helping hand from Guanyin and Erlang Shen, this rollicking page-turning adventure delivers action coupled with laughter. Genie's not the first girl who has to balance school, family, and friends with averting the apocalypse, but her biting humor make her first-person narration a stand-out. A Chinese American girl who was angry and strong before being saddled with the fate of the world, Genie's perspective on the strange turn her life has taken will have readers laughing out loud. Luckily, while the ending brings the story to a satisfying close, it does leave room for a sequel—readers will be demanding more Genie long before they turn the last page. VERDICT Hilarious and action-packed, this fantastically executed tale of the Monkey King in modern-day California introduces a great new character in Genie Lo.—Jennifer Rothschild, Arlington County Public Libraries, VA
"In this dazzlingly fun debut, Yee mixes humor, Chinese folklore, and action to deliver a rousing, irreverent adventure packed with sharp-edged banter."
"A tough, self-disciplined Chinese-American teen deals with the supernatural derailing of her college-prep activities in this speculative fiction novel that draws on the folklore of the Chinese Monkey King... An exciting, engaging, and humorous debut that will appeal widely, this wraps up neatly enough but leaves an opening for further installments—here's hoping."
"Genie's perspective on the strange turn her life has taken will have readers laughing out loud...Hilarious and action-packed, this fantastically executed tale of the Monkey King in modern-day California introduces a great new character in Genie Lo."
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With a diverse cast, a world both unlike anything I’ve read but also made highly accessible, and a story that had me tearing through the pages, I devoured this book much like a yaoguai would a human.
For starters, Genie is Chinese American. I’m not, so I can’t speak to the rep of this book but I’ll say that I think Yee addressed stereotypes of Asian-American people that I’ve heard over the years and instead of enforcing them, gave a more realistic view to this culture subset. There were differences in the way that Genie and her mom interacted, and with some of the comments Genie made about the world, that differed from my home life and that of others I know and I liked seeing a new side of the world. My own background has been relatively sheltered and whitewashed because of where I live, and I haven’t had the chance to expand beyond that but I think this book was definitely a step in the right direction, and I encourage everyone to read it for that experience alone because there’s a lot we can learn from fiction beyond how to defeat demons.
Then there’s the mythology woven into the world. I love mythology, especially from cultures that aren’t as prevalent (Greek mythology is great, y’all, but let’s change it up). This book focuses on Ancient Chinese folklore and brings those stories to life through the characters (quite literally). I think the way Yee presented the tales — not as a wise storyteller trying to impart wisdom, but as a teenager making sense of the stories — really worked both to show Genie’s character as well as make a likely unfamiliar topic accessible to a lot of readers.
Genie has become one of my favorite YA heroines. She’s got such much going on in her life, it’s a wonder she manages it all and successfully at that. There was just the right balance here of fantastical demon hunting and the pressures of school (getting good grades, getting into a good college, not disappointing your parents, all the things that go with being a teen). She’s a fluid character in that she felt real, as though this is someone I might run into on the street but who could also smash a god into the ground. She’s down-to-earth and takes each situation in stride. This is the kind of heroine I want teens to read about, the kind of character that every reader can find a piece of themselves in.
Not that the other characters were slouches. Quentin cracked me up, partially because the two of them together reminded me way too much of InuYasha and Kagome from the anime InuYasha (and yes, I understand the cultural differences between this book and the show, I am comparing the characters and the story itself in this case). Honestly, the comparisons were so prominent I could write a whole post about them on their own (and I might). He sees something in Genie that she hasn’t seen herself yet and watching their friendship grow was a great display of how people feed off each other. They both learned something in the process of the grand adventure.
A smaller note but I loved the twist on Genie’s identity. It wasn’t what I was expecting at all but added yet another interesting element to this book.
Before I start rambling too much more, let me just say that The Epic Crush of Genie Lo was one of the most unique and entertaining books I’ve read in a while. It’s beautifully diverse and original, one part superhero tale, one part mythological goodness. Everyone needs to read this book. No exceptions. Get on it, y’all!
I immediately took to Genie as a protagonist. Not only is she relatable, but her voice is playfully comedic, making it hard not to immediately love her. She is also a bit of a hothead, but it made me love her more rather than subtracting from her character. Genie often struggles with her self-image. She’s never been dainty and has always been valued (like her spot on the volleyball team) because of her height and not her skill. Genie’s self-consciousness is made worse by her mother’s often backhanded remarks. Though she knows her mom means well, this doesn’t make these snide comments any easier to swallow. Genie also has a complicated relationship with her father and is part of the reason she feels that it is important to have her whole future already planned out. Discovering that she is the reincarnation of a powerful entity makes discovering who she is as a young adult even more complicated. Genie has to contend with this important destiny that often pulls her away from those she’s close to and refusing to do so could result in the end of the world. It isn’t easy for Genie to suddenly have all this responsibility on her shoulders. I felt for her so much when this journey took her away from her best friend especially and she couldn’t even tell her what was really going on in her life.
I really liked Quentin both as a character and love interest for Genie. His first impression isn’t all that great and in many ways he comes on a little too strongly, but he ends up being incredibly supportive of Genie. He sees strength in her even when she does not. I loved how much room he gave Genie to grow and even though he wanted her to see just how powerful she really was, it never felt like he was being too pushy. Genie and Quentin’s relationship felt genuine. Any romantic feelings between the two didn’t start right away. Their relationship felt earned as they both earn each other’s trust first, but I did find myself rooting for them from the very beginning. If you’re looking for a fun fantasy with an likable protagonist, look no further than F.C. Yee’s The Epic Crush of Genie Lo.
The premise is unique, the characters feel real and relatable and the lore flows easily through the events and dialogue without feeling like heaps of exposition. Quite a lot happens in a short span of time, yet things don't feel rushed and even the smaller moments are given their time in the spotlight instead of just being stepping stones to the next plot point or action scene. Each character's voice is distinct, and the narrative is engaging and detailed while still having a very human aspect about how the world and events are seen in the first person perspective.
Overall a fun read, and I look forward to seeing what comes next.
Most recent customer reviews
What a fun and unique young adult fantasy.Read more
I am always on the lookout for Asian, specifically East Asian,...Read more