Title: The Epic Crush of Genie Lo
Author: F.C. Yee
Blurb: The struggle to get into a top-tier college consumes sixteen-year-old Genie’s every waking thought. But when she discovers she’s a celestial spirit who’s powerful enough to bash through the gates of heaven with her fists, her perfectionist existence is shattered.
Enter Quentin, a transfer student from China whose tone-deaf assertiveness beguiles Genie to the brink of madness. Quentin nurtures Genie’s outrageous transformation—sometimes gently, sometimes aggressively—as her sleepy suburb in the Bay Area comes under siege from hell-spawn.
This epic YA debut draws from Chinese folklore, features a larger-than-life heroine, and perfectly balances the realities of Genie’s grounded high school life with the absurd supernatural world she finds herself commanding.
First off, I’ve lived in China for years now so this book seriously hit the spot wrangling in culture, mythology, ancient famous characters, and a story that every Chinese person I know loves: The Monkey King. But the story’s setting is in America with American born Chinese and American attitude and jokes–all this adds more layers of culture, familiarity, fun, and adventure. Second, Yee’s style was the perfect dichotomy of serious and hilarious, (mostly hilarious) reminding me of The Guardian of the Galaxies story-telling style.
The premise, the voice, and the humor were the strongest part of the book. Often, the unfolding of the plot seemed to repeat, but the characters upheld their end of the deal.
On character: Genie Lo. From the first moment we see her try to stick up for this poor sucker getting beat up, we like her. She’s way too tall for a teen girl, which bothers her mom more than her. She’s intelligent, clever, dedicated, compassionate, and completely full of attitude. And this epic story does forget to add the girl who becomes a kick-A hero syndrome.
On Quentin. His dichotomy is perfect. He is genuine and arrogant. Weird and smart. Caring and annoying. Aggressive and patient. He is also a swoony Chinese boy, which we don’t see much of in YA. (PITY!)
On Asian YA/own voices: Both main characters were Asian! Yay! I’ve lived in Asia for more than 10 years. I have Asian family members, and some of my best friends growing up and now are Asian –needless to say, I loved reading yet another book with an Asian in the lead. There are not that many….yet! But that is happily changing. Check out more Asian Ya here.
On Voice: This is where this book is at. Here’s why–Yee’s voice surprises us with its Dichotomy –if you are a writer click this to see what I am talking about here- Not only does it make us laugh but it makes us think and spin in another direction in the same moment. It entertains us with jokes and serious history in the same line, with love and something gross or annoying, he adds romance and action and bloopers all in one. It’s very well done in that regard.
On Plot: It’s unique but not super complicated. And as expected we get to see lots of fight scenes.
On Pace: There are a few parts that slow down as Genie is learning or contemplating her new life but for the most part it moves pretty smoothly throughout.
On story: Yee took these famous Chinese Cultural, Mythological, Pious, serious characters and brought them into contemporary world, making them sassy, fallible, grumpy, comical, and totally teen-relatable. Kudos.
On a Boy writing a Girl’s POV: I must say, he did well, but for some weird reason, with this book, I could not forget about that the entire book! LOL! My fault entirely. Any thoughts on that?
Signing off, Nova