The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

5/5 Stars
Published by Amulet Books
Published August 8th, 2017

Synopsis: 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…

This is one of my favorite books of all time. The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is exactly what you would expect it to be - EPIC. Everything about the storytelling is exquisite, creative, and genius. You find yourself immediately attracted to the easy flowing syntax, the meaning behind the mayhem, and the uniqueness of the story. This is one of the first books I have ever seen myself so distinctly represented in. The Chinese legend Journey to the West and the Monkey King is what serves as inspiration to this wonderfully made story. This is a legend I have known since I was a child and one that I have grown up reading, watching, and listening to. It is a legend I could never have imagined would become a YA novel, but F.C. Yee made it happen, and I am incredibly thankful to have it. The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is the spunky, modern twist of the Chinese classic, and brings forward a courageous, rebellious plot that leaves you wanting more. It is refreshing to see Chinese folklore hit the bookshelves in such an impactful way.
Genie Lo is freaking hilarious. She is quick witted, sarcastic, and not afraid to speak her mind. She challenges the stereotypical standards society holds Asians to by proving that we can be bold, athletic, and unapologetically tough. Genie Lo is competitive, angsty/stressful, but that's what makes her so relatable. She is 110% reminiscent of the person I was (and still am) back in junior year of high school, when all I did was prepare for college applications and study. With the two of us both being Chinese-American, there's an already established connection between us in terms of heritage and culture, plus learning to adapt to that double narrative of Chinese expectations, but growing up surrounded by American culture. There is so much more beneath the surface of our ethnicities that we both struggled with and worked towards, that made this story all the more real for me. Genie is trying to find her place in this world, which is all anybody ever wants to accomplish. This is a character I one hundred percent see myself reflected in and I could not be more thankful to have finally found that.

In addition to Genie Lo, who I absolutely adore, Quentin Sun is a blast of a character. He's sunshine incarnate, which is fitting considering his last name, compassionate and caring, and as funny as they come. He has an incredibly strong character, a moral compass that is A+, and a brave, defiant nature that seeks to protect those around him, while causing a little chaos (because who can resist??). Together, Genie Lo and Quentin Sun make a tag team that is unbelievably good. They kick ass in the best way possible, are comically brilliant, and have a dynamic that just naturally clicks. They're literally just two teenagers that are fighting demon ass in the Bay Area. As the story unfolded I thought "how on earth could he make a romance work right now?" but it was so innocent and surprisingly fitting, and now I can't imagine the story without this cute romance.

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo defies all standards for a typical YA novel. It features realistic characterization that is incredibly personal and relatable, a tall girl/short boy pairing, and Chinese folklore that is so interesting and fun. The plot is ingenious, incorporating elements that are nostalgic of the original classical, yet completely reimagined and made into a witty and captivating sequence of events. The battle scenes were thought out and executed well; action-packed, kick ass, and representative of their good graces. Genie Lo has a healthy relationship with both of her parents, a feature I think is important to emphasize, since it is so rare to find. There is an underlying theme of loyalty, to oneself and to those around you, and determination that pushes this story forward and develops its morality. This is the book that I have been waiting for - a representation of my childhood that continuously influences who I am today. This is a book I will cherish for years to come, because it brought me an image of myself that I thought I would never find in books.

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