This post originally appeared in Coffee-Stained Dreams.
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. (via Goodreads)
It was hard to read The Epic Crush of Genie Lo without cracking up. I mean – the wit and sarcasm that F.C. Yee injected in his writing is beyond! That choice of words, I can’t even~ 😂 I remember reading this in my usual commute to work and I was fighting a huge grin just to not make me look like a fool sitting there in the jeepney with too many people to notice. This is what it felt like reading this — THIS BOOK that took my Twitter timeline by storm (God, Book Twitter is the absolute ~best~!). My Twitter friends are freakin’ right hyping this book up!
“I’ve recently discovered that what I am into is having skills,” I said. “Skills that no one can deny or take away from me. People can always say I don’t look impressive enough, but they can’t argue over how strong I am once I punch them in the face.”
Genie Lo is ruthless. She is cold, calculating…. but more caring and sensitive than she lets on. Witty and sarcastic — and funny. Just how I like my female heroines to be. The journey that she made in this book (personal-wise) really hit the nail on the head for me. She is a driven and overachieving young lady — and the pressure to deliver, the need to remove herself from her sleepy town, the refusal to be told where her place is — it spoke to me on a very personal level. She must’ve been striving to get to that college that would make her dreams come true, but I am struggling to maintain my ground and find a place in the corporate world I am insistent on being a part of — and somehow, one mirrors the other. So yeah, I was really dodging arrows that strike right to heart of the matter because IT WAS SO DAMN RELATABLE. With the current wave of YA lit, Genie’s character – the sarcastic, smartass, driven one — is the kind that I get to frequently read in the books these days, but as a guy. So imagine how groundbreaking it is for me to, finally, have it be a girl standing on that pedestal, and not just any girl — but an ASIAN GIRL. So yeah, I am really thrilled even for just that.
On the other hand, can I tell you about the ROMANCE? I can talk about Quentin Sun —
just how attractive he is despite him being a bit irritating with that cute arrogance and — but his character won’t work if not paired with Genie on the scene. Their characters – like their aura – harmonized for some reason I can’t quite point out. The banters were freakin’ awesome, the romance not forced and definitely not sappy and cheesy, but instead communicated in the most hilarious of ways. I love these two to bits when they’re together.
Plus there’s the interesting interpretation of the bodhisattva, Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy. Trust me. Characters-wise, this book was awesome.
Honestly, I am not really into the demon-y genre of YA fantasy. People seem to be very overpowered, all the time, in these stories — and for me, most often than not, that makes it so far removed to reality which I don’t like. (My SFF choices are weird, I know.) But what the heck! Genie Lo took me by storm. It was based on Chinese mythology, which I am not really that familiar though — but it just made the story more awesome I guess, because I am looking at it from fresh eyes. It’s plot was action-packed and hilarious at all the right places. It even managed to invoke a tear or two from me — and that is a feat. My throat bobbed at the most inopportune moments, at most inappropriate ones, and that’s when I knew that this book elicited such strong emotions from me. And the laughing — yeah, NONSTOP. Okay, right, I can’t even count how many times I used this word to describe freakin’ anything in this book, but I give in: IT WAS HILARIOUS.
This was a light book, and an enjoyable one. And if you ever need a pick-me-up for some reason, you can absolutely pick this one up and let it do what it does best. Honestly, I didn’t even realize how frequently I highlighted passages from this book until I quickly revisited it for this review. It was that good.
The ending was a bit of a cliffhanger (in a very good way) – but I am hoping for a sequel. That would be a lot of fun, I bet. Recommended!
“Spiritual power isn’t just or merciful. It’s fair. That’s what makes it so dangerous.”
“It’s maddening to see those you care about get hurt, even if it’s their fault.”
There’s nothing worse than just enough success.
“You have to pick and choose your battles. Fight too much and you’ll wear yourself out.”
“One should never feel ashamed about their true self.”
“Don’t let the setbacks mess with your overall progress.”
“Focus on becoming stronger, which you can control, over the possible failures, which you can’t always.”
“What I’m trying to say is that the people we care about make the grind worthwhile. “
Sometimes you just had to accept that you might never change as much as you want to.
This is the THIRD book I finished for #TheReadingQuest reading challenge, for “A Book Based on Mythology”.