Book name: The Epic Crush of Genie Lo
Author: FC Yee
Publisher: Amulet Books
Format: ebook, print, audiobook
Genre: YA fantasy
Publication Date: 2017
Star Rating: 4/5
I picked up The Epic Crush of Genie Lo in a discount bookstore, and the cover and blurb immediately pegged it as Young Adult fantasy.
While it’s safe to say that I’m nowhere near being the target audience for YA fantasy, I do like to review a wide range of genre fiction here at John C Adams Reviews.
FC Yee works a day job in tech, crafting YA fantasy inspired by Chinese myth and legend in his spare time.
The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is set in the Bay Area of modern San Francisco. Genie is fretting over her college admissions when the most handsome boy she’s ever seen strolls into class and singles her out.
How lucky can you get, right? Wrong.
Quentin is the Monkey King, Sun Wukong, complete with living monkey tail. And he’s come to claim Genie as the human reincarnation of Ruyi Jingu Bang, his favourite weapon. As Genie herself says, a stick?
Quentin’s powers mean that he can summon gods to protect them and even create parents out of nothing more than two pieces of his DNA (hair).
The pair start to train so that Genie can reconnect with her powers as Ruyi Jingu Bang. Matters are urgent because over one hundred demons are coming to destroy them.
Initially, things go quite smoothly and the demons are dispatched effectively. Then their circumstances become more challenging and the pair have to up their game.
The Epic Crush of Genie Lo was pure intrusive fantasy, with the gods and demons of Chinese legend pushing their way into modern America and disrupting everyone’s lives.
I loved the use of Chinese myth and legend for inspiration. The gods were real and vivid. The powers our heroes had, and the history behind them, were rich and satisfying. FC Yee was able to work this into a recognisable superhero narrative in a way that felt very natural.
FC Yee hit the mark when it came to that YA fantasy feel. Genie was likeable, but stressed for all the reasons that young people applying to college so often are.
I rooted for Genie from the beginning, and there was something timeless in her friendships and crushes on boys. Yes, there’s more than one.
Quentin was funny and eccentric, but he was also utterly believable as the human form of the Monkey King. Genie’s mother was the sort of tightly wound individual that lots of us recognise in a parent, regardless of age or where we grew up.
The pacing was great. The length (300 pages) was pretty snappy, but it felt like about the right time to end the story. There’s a sequel, which I can’t wait to get hold of, called The Iron Will of Genie Lo.
Highly recommended as a modern YA intrusion fantasy.
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