I am SO excited to be a part of the blog tour for The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee this week, y’all! This was one of my highly anticipated reads for the summer and, let me tell you, it did NOT disappoint!
Keep reading for my review of the book (it got a bit longer than usual because I had so much to say!) and don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the end of the post (right after you pre-order this amazing book, of course)!
Published on August 8, 2017 by Amulet Books
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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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…
I knew this book would be great. I just had this innate feeling that this book would rocket up my list of best reads of the year (so far, of course). And it did. If you buy one book this year, let it be The Epic Crush of Genie Lo.
With a diverse cast, a world both unlike anything I’ve read but also made highly accessible, and a story that had me tearing through the pages, I devoured this book much like a yaoguai would a human.
For starters, Genie is Chinese American. I’m not, so I can’t speak to the rep of this book but I’ll say that I think Yee addressed stereotypes of Asian-American people that I’ve heard over the years and instead of enforcing them, gave a more realistic view to this culture subset. There were differences in the way that Genie and her mom interacted, and with some of the comments Genie made about the world, that differed from my home life and that of others I know and I liked seeing a new side of the world. My own background has been relatively sheltered and whitewashed because of where I live, and I haven’t had the chance to expand beyond that but I think this book was definitely a step in the right direction, and I encourage everyone to read it for that experience alone because there’s a lot we can learn from fiction beyond how to defeat demons.
Then there’s the mythology woven into the world. I love mythology, especially from cultures that aren’t as prevalent (Greek mythology is great, y’all, but let’s change it up). This book focuses on Ancient Chinese folklore and brings those stories to life through the characters (quite literally). I think the way Yee presented the tales — not as a wise storyteller trying to impart wisdom, but as a teenager making sense of the stories — really worked both to show Genie’s character as well as make a likely unfamiliar topic accessible to a lot of readers.
Genie has become one of my favorite YA heroines. She’s got such much going on in her life, it’s a wonder she manages it all and successfully at that. There was just the right balance here of fantastical demon hunting and the pressures of school (getting good grades, getting into a good college, not disappointing your parents, all the things that go with being a teen). She’s a fluid character in that she felt real, as though this is someone I might run into on the street but who could also smash a god into the ground. She’s down-to-earth and takes each situation in stride. This is the kind of heroine I want teens to read about, the kind of character that every reader can find a piece of themselves in.
Not that the other characters were slouches. Quentin cracked me up, partially because the two of them together reminded me way too much of InuYasha and Kagome from the anime InuYasha (and yes, I understand the cultural differences between this book and the show, I am comparing the characters and the story itself in this case). Honestly, the comparisons were so prominent I could write a whole post about them on their own (and I might). He sees something in Genie that she hasn’t seen herself yet and watching their friendship grow was a great display of how people feed off each other. They both learned something in the process of the grand adventure.
A smaller note but I loved the twist on Genie’s identity. It wasn’t what I was expecting at all but added yet another interesting element to this book.
Before I start rambling too much more, let me just say that The Epic Crush of Genie Lo was one of the most unique and entertaining books I’ve read in a while. It’s beautifully diverse and original, one part superhero tale, one part mythological goodness. Everyone needs to read this book. No exceptions. Get on it, y’all!
7/31/2017- Wandering Bark Books– Guest Post
8/1/2017- Dani Reviews Things– Review
8/2/2017- Bookwyrming Thoughts– Interview
8/3/2017- NovelKnight– Review
8/4/2017- Tales of the Ravenous Reader– Interview
5 winners will receive Genie Lo prize packs—complete with a finished copy of the book and a special Genie Lo horoscope (that doubles as a bookmark!), US Only.