Published by Amulet Books on August 8th 2017
Source: Publisher, Netgalley
Genres: Young Adult, Mythology
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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…
I’m forever looking for Chinese representation in books, so when I heard about The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, I knew I had to pick it up!
This book was so much fun, and a great nod to Chinese folklore, particularly the Legend of the Monkey King. The story centers on Genie, a Chinese teenager who is tall and vivacious, and often battles with her parents over her American mannerisms. I loved how relatable Genie’s struggles were, particularly how she is often pressured by her parents to get good grades, find a nice rich boyfriend and of course, get into a top tier university. A lot of her struggles with being brought up in America but still expecting to respect her Chinese values was something I related to, particularly while growing up.
Most females in YA are often average size and average build, but the thing that sets Genie apart is that she’s a tall girl, who is competitive with a fiery temper, and I loved that about her. She makes no pretenses about who she is and how often she’s overlooked because of those two things, and it was refreshingly frank. The way she often gets into fist fights and jumps to rash conclusions made her really fun as well, especially when Quentin came into the picture.
As a quirky teen boy who seems to be out of touch with the modern day world, Quentin was absolutely hilarious. From his first impression of Genie, telling her she’s his chosen one, to the way he convinces her of her powers and his true heritage, everything about this book was entertaining and witty. Both of the characters had amazing chemistry, and I loved the student/tutor role that they often shared – Quentin on the demonic underworld and Genie on behaving like a modern day teenager.
The story centers on Genie manifesting her powers and battling with the demonic underworld, inspired by Chinese folklore. It was refreshing seeing the Monkey King story come to life in the modern day setting, which is something I haven’t seen in YA before. There’s lots of Chinese gods and goddesses, some which I recognised and was really excited to see them in a book. It’s all covered in such a humorous way, that makes the book so much fun to read.
Featuring Chinese folklore and a teenager who suddenly finds herself thrust upon the demonic world, I loved the characters and the themes of The Epic Crush of Genie Lo. Regardless of whether you are familiar with the heritage or not, I think it’s a story that will interest those who love video games, anime or kdrama would love simply because of the zany nature of the story. If you’re in the mood for something fun, refreshing and hilarious, pick up The Epic Crush of Genie Lo!
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Thanks to Amulet Books for the review copy via Netgalley!
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