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 received an advance copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I have a number of friends who have loved this book, so I was quite excited to read it. During the first 20% or so, I really was not enjoying it, but I knew there had to be a reason my friends were raving about it so I kept going. I’m glad I did. It got so much better.
While the beginning felt like I’d been dumped into the story without getting to orient myself, once things had a time to settle with me, I started to really enjoy it. Something that had annoyed me about the beginning was later explained properly, which helped me set that all aside and get on with loving the book.
THE EPIC CRUSH OF GENIE LO has an ownvoices Chinese-American MC and is based heavily on Chinese folklore. Enough information about the lore is provided so that plebs like me understand what’s going on. It did feel a little info-dumpy at times but I didn’t actually mind, given that Genie, the protagonist, needed the information anyway. It was the most efficient way to get all the mythological information across in that particular situation.
The thing that really makes this book stand out, aside from the Chinese demon-fighting premise, is Genie’s voice. Genie is hilarious. I also loved that she was allowed to get angry and that her wittiest lines tended to happen when she was pissed off. We need angry girls in YA. We need girls who are allowed to express their rage. And I will never, ever, get tired of well-written snarky heroines.
The love interest, Quentin, annoyed the piss out of me, which I’m guessing was intentional, and I probably enjoyed seeing him getting punched a little too much at times. He did grow during the course of the story, though, and romantic overtures only really got off the ground once he stopped being too much of a dickhead to Genie. Anyone who loves height differences in their ships will get a kick out of this one, considering Genie is extremely tall and Quentin is a short little gremlin. The more m/f stories I read, though, the more I realise I must be on the asexual spectrum because apparently everyone in these stories notices sexy things about people when they’re angry at them. I mean, what? I’m not annoyed, but it’s such a thing with m/f, I swear. It’s actually funny to me now.
I also loved Genie’s relationship with her friends and family. People who hate absent parents in YA have no fear here. She also has to balance her academics and the fuckery of American college prep. There’s just so much packed into this book. Once I got into it, I really got into it.
THE EPIC CRUSH OF GENIE LO is a frigging riot of a read, perfect for fans of snarky heroines, mythology and demon-hunting. Fans of Buffy and Percy Jackson should feel right at home here.