Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication date: August 8th, 2017
Format: Kindle eBook
Page Count: 320
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 bodacious 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.
The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is my book for #TheReadingQuest Challenge: A Book Based on a Myth
The premise for this book drew me to reading it. That and the fact that I won a book in a giveaway and needed something based on a myth for #TheReadinQuest. Nevertheless, I have heard so many great things about this book.
The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is loosely based on the Chinese myth and folklore talkes of Sun Wukong the Monkey King and his journey with a group of magical beings in Journey to the West. I went into this book blind and found it a bit difficult to digest the stories since I’ve never been an audience to Chinese legend, nor have I watched cartoons based on them while growing up.
After a work colleague gave me a crash course on Sun Wukong and his magical staff, I found it a lot easier to understand the plot in this book. So a good tip would be to Google Sun Wukong and read a bit of description on what he’s about before reading this book. It’ll definitely help you appreciate the book more!
I love the main characters in this one; Genie and Quentin are the adorable duo set to fight off all the demons, or yaoguai as they’re known, recently released from Hell. And while Genie is preoccupied with her studies and getting into the Ivy Leagues, even though she’s only a sophomore damn her Asian-ness, she’s hardly in a position to say no when it comes to the safety of her family. She’s your typical Asian student with the slight oddity of being super tall. She has her flaws and insecurities, but they’re pretty minor in the book and I love her determination and hardheadedness for throwing a punch at anyone that pisses her off. I love me some badass female characters.
Quentin is this lovable geeky character who’s the total opposite of Genie. And of all the cliches in the world, they fall for each other. No surprise there. But his strong persona and by-the-book character makes him an interesting addition to the story. In this book, he is Sun Wukong himself who came back to Earth to find Genie and they plan to fight off the hundreds of demons. It was great to see how Quentin was reimagined in our society as Quentin Sun, despite having the few oddities of being a great mythical character.
The one of the two downsides of this book for me was its lack of details in the plot and supporting characters. I understand the fantastic duo have to fight around 108 demons and while they obviously didn’t do that in the length of a book, there was a lack of description surrounding their fights and battles with said demons.
Let’s face it, I’m a sucker for details. Not in excessive amounts, but just the right amount to allow me to appreciate the characters and their ordeals in dealing with challenges. How I felt while reading The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is that when a fighting scene comes up, it’s over in a page and a half. And I’m left wondering “What just happened? How did that end so fast??”. I understand how powerful these two characters are, but since I’m not familiar with the Chinese folklore tales, I’d have appreciated more descriptions of the demons’ features and powers. They all seemed generic to me: feast on human souls and tend to have ugly faces.
I would have loved a bit more backstory to Guanying and more scenes with Genie’s mom, Yunie and also Androu. I felt like they were sprinkled into the book to make it seem like Genie had a social life.
Asides from that, the Asian cliches had me cringing till no end! I understand the book is about bringing diversity to the YA reading pool, and while I’m glad YA is seeing more diverse characters, having a Chinese character who’s super smart, gets perfect grades and have parents who pressure her into getting the best university is a little bit too cliche for me. I’m Asian and I can’t really relate to Genie. Sure I studied hard and got good grades throughout school and college, but I know not all Asians are like this. And somehow in this book Genie gave off the vibe that every Asian in her school is just like her.
“So it’s true what they say huh?” asked Androu.
“What?” replied Genie.
“That Asian families aren’t affectionate?”
So here’s a shocking disclaimer for readers about to read this book: while the Chinese are Asians, not all Asians are Chinese!
Asides from these two shortcomings, I enjoyed the book and look forward to reading more by the author. Who knows, with that ending in this book, there might even be a sequel? It’s definitely worth checking out The Epic Crush of Genie Lo. I truly enjoyed reading more about the Chinese folklores and mythical legends. They have such a variety of characters. And it’s a wonderful way to expose more diversity in the YA world!