Tuesday 22 August 2017

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

"I've seen people come and go over the ages," said Quentin. "And rarely, very rarely, I see them come back."
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.

* * *
3 / 5 

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo was a riot. It was inventive, funny, and based in Chinese folklore and a legend I was entirely unfamiliar with. Featuring Genie Lo, an ancient reincarnated spirit in the form of a sixteen year old American girl, struggling to prepare to get into Ivy League schools whilst the demons of hell are intent on destroying her life. Oh, and there's this totally crazy boy, Quentin Sun, a new transfer student who's calling himself the Monkey King. What the heck is that all about?
I have no illusions as to why I've been on varsity volleyball since I was a freshman. It's because I'm tall. Ridiculously tall. Grossly tall. Monstrously tall

Genie Lo is a normal girl (if a little too tall for her mother's liking) until, one day, she sees a boy being badly beaten up in an alleyway. After making a police report, that very same boy swaggers into her classroom as a new transfer student with not a scratch on him: Quentin Sun. He's brassy, cocky, and his English is very slightly off and he's exceptionally keen to get close to Genie. Weirdly so. But that's not as weird as the demons that pop up and then the goddess, because hold on readers, Genie's life is about to get weird

The book is very Young Adult, with a sassy and unashamedly violent heroine, a romance you've seen coming from miles away, and a mysterious boy who's eyes literally sparkle, but it's also self-aware which stops it being a cliche mess. Instead it's funny. What makes The Epic Crush of Genie Lo stand out from other "teenager discovers that they're actually a super-powerful being" books is the mythology: it's very heavily based on the legend of Sun Wukong, which the book helpfully explains to those, like me, who are very ignorant of Chinese folklore. 

He was prodding a corpse. My soul had left my body a long time ago. It had flown to the top of Mount Can't Even, planted it's flag, and dissipated into the stratosphere 

For the first half of the book, I really enjoyed it. I laughed and flipped pages avidly. But as I neared the end my interest waned; the plot twist was unsurprising, the characters fell into being a bit cliche, and there were a few loose ends, like Genie's close friend Yunie and her classmate, which were left hanging around. I felt like the pacing was off as the story fell into a typical "hunt down x many demons and save the world" sort of plot, one that I've read many times before. 

This book is an awesome retelling of a myth I had never heard of and I really think it did an amazing job of integrating Chinese culture. Most of the time, it was a great laugh! At times, however, the writing felt a bit too young than the age I believe it was aiming at and the plot moved too slowly. I do really recommend this book to those that love mythological retellings!

My thanks to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for an ARC of this book. 

No comments:

Post a Comment