Title: The Epic Crush of Genie Lo
Author: F.C. Yee
Release Date: August 8, 2017
Publisher: Amulet Books
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Synopsis: She annihilates standardized tests and the bad guys.
Genie Lo is one among droves of Ivy-hopeful overachievers in her sleepy Bay Area suburb. You know, the type who wins. When she’s not crushing it at volleyball or hitting the books, Genie is typically working on how to crack the elusive Harvard entry code.
But when her hometown comes under siege from hellspawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are dramatically rearranged. Enter Quentin Sun, a mysterious new kid in class who becomes Genie’s self-appointed guide to battling demons. While Genie knows Quentin only as an attractive transfer student with an oddly formal command of the English language, in another reality he is Sun Wukong, the mythological Monkey King incarnate—right down to the furry tale and penchant for peaches.
Suddenly, acing the SATs is the least of Genie’s worries. The fates of her friends, family, and the entire Bay Area all depend on her summoning an inner power that Quentin assures her is strong enough to level the very gates of Heaven. But every second Genie spends tapping into the secret of her true nature is a second in which the lives of her loved ones hang in the balance.
Spoiler Free Section
Hellooo readers! This is a bit overdue but I personally wanted to thank Amulet Books for sending me a finished copy of The Epic Crush of Genie Lo in exchange for an honest review. I’ve seen a lot of hype surrounding this book back in August and now I’m happy to say it was just as good as the hype ♡
As for a review, I don’t know where to begin. GENIE LO is just a genuinely great novel. It’s spunky, fast-paced, and had lots of wonderful diversity (and #ownvoices, too.)
I guess I’ll just give a little background. Genie Lo is a Chinese-American teen of a small Bay Area town, and dreams of attending an Ivy League school. But she has to get through her super-competitive high school first.
It was a little refreshing to see an MC of a YA fantasy who didn’t throw away their real life priorities when demons suddenly appear. If Genie was one thing (beside totally bad-ass) is grounded. She felt like a real person, someone I’d be friends with.
If you didn’t know, GENIE LO is heavily based on Chinese mythology. (For one thing, I can’t speak on the accuracy of the folklore but I loved the reading the tales behind GENIE LO.) With reading this book and Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, lately I’ve been on a bit of an East Asian mythology kick. (Recommendations are appreciated!)
There wasn’t much I didn’t enjoy about GENIE LO, beside the fact that it wasn’t long enough, of course.
I have lots to say about GENIE LO but unfortunately, most of it can’t be shared with a spoiler free audience SO I’m going to have to say bye for now if you haven’t read it yet!
END OF SPOILER FREE SECTION
Okay, let’s talk about Quentin for a moment.
I love him so much, okay?
Not going to lie, he started out kind of stalkerish, and it was weird. But then Genie got the whole “you’re-actually-a-reincarnation-of-my-sidekick-why-are-you-staring-at-me-like-that?” and all was well. Sorta.
But he and Genie were SUCH A GREAT TEAM. 10/10 best friend duo.
For the longest time, I thought they were just going to be friends. I was perfectly okay with that idea, but I also kinda shook my book every time they had a sexual tension moment and wished they’d kiss already. (And when they did, I cheered out loud. Really. So much for platonic friends, lol.)
Slow burn romance is the best thing because when the moment happens you’re like OMG YES THIS IS HAPPENING ALL IS WELL AGAIN IN THE UNIVERSE. You get the feeling.
Most of their encounters were either ~super cute~ or endless bickering. But there was this one scene. . .When Genie tells Quentin to just wait “ninety days in Heaven” cause she knows that is a lifetime for her, and she’d be reincarnated and Quentin was speechless. I WAS LIKE NOOOO and that particular scene broke my heart, even if it didn’t sound as sad when I rephrased it.
So I’ll add it below.
“‘You should go back to Heaven,’ I said to Quentin.
‘To sit there and wait eighty, ninety days.’
‘But if I did that you’d—’
‘I know. If you did that, I would age out and die. For every day in Heaven, a year passes on Earth, right? So wait three months in Heaven. A fiscal quarter. After I pass away as a human being, maybe I’ll come back as a stick.
‘That should have been your plan all along,’ I continued. ‘You should never have come to Earth in the first place. The two of us are demon magnets, and being together makes it worse. Get out of here and let me run out my life span.’
I knew exactly how much it hurt would be in Quentin’s eyes when I said it. So all the worse on me for letting him walk away without a word.”
(INSERT TEARS HERE.)
But Quentin, although it felt like it, wasn’t the only other character. Similar to most YA fantasies, the supporting cast was, for the most part, thrown aside.
I FELT SO BAD FOR EUGIE, Genie’s friend. Genie went to her concert, which meant a lot to Eugie that her best friend was there, but a damn demon appeared and Genie had to leave.
Even worse, Eugie was performing and watched Genie leave.
That part had me s a d.
I thought Eugie deserved a hug.
Along with every other YA friend who becomes nonexistent in the face of YA fantasy.
Beside that, I actually really liked the family dynamics of the novel. I just assumed Genie’s father had died but all of the sudden he lives in San Fran and works at a gym and I’m like ??? what ??? who ???
Her mother was a little strict but only wanted the best for Genie. Her father was kind and wanted the best for Genie but Genie even said she hoped she didn’t end up like him (that seemed a little harsh but I understand your ambitions, Genie.)
I can’t really compare other family dynamics, since Quentin’s were a figment of his imagination (oops.) At least Mrs. Lo had someone to hang out with.
“‘You’re at that age.’ She made a face of intense bitterness where another woman might have been pleasantly wistful. ‘I can’t stop you from doing everything. Even if you want to look like a cheap internet girl.’
I stared at my mother for a second, and then I wrapped her in a big hug.
‘But if you dye your hair I swear I’ll throw you out of this house,’ she muttered into my shoulder.”
(I just want to add that not only did that make me laugh, I think it’s adorable that Mrs. Lo only comes up to Genie’s shoulder.)
Overall, uh, YA families are cool when they’re there.
You know what’s weiRD? The fact that Genie being only a sophomore SURPRISED me! She was so mature for her age, and I’m literally a few months older than her (hypothetically) but it’s weird to imagine this 16 year old fighting demons and me, her senior (actually I’m a junior but I love puns har har), am afraid to throw trash away in a crowded room.
If you couldn’t tell, I really liked this book. Like, a lot.
Beside the ending.
WHAT THE HELL, DUDE? WE DIDN’T NEED A CLIFFHANGER ENDING. Genie is Madame Divine Guardian, whatever that means, and it ends????
I think GENIE LO deserves a sequel. F.C. Yee (in an interview) explained there will be another novel in the GENIE universe. (Does that mean it’s not about Genie though??? I’m panicking now.)
Either way, I will read that book.
Thanks for reading! Have you read THE EPIC CRUSH OF GENIE LO? Is it on your tbr?