I have all the love for this book and it may be my newest favorite for June. The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is narrated with humor, based on Chinese folklore, and maintains an amazing balance between the ordinary and the unreal. What more is there to love?
Genie Lo has the normal range of problems for a high schooler: getting into a good college, high school drama, and dealing with her parents. But Genie Lo is about to realize she has even bigger, non-high-schooler problems: about one hundred spirits, who were broken out of hell, and a new transfer student who is surprisingly annoying who is supposed to be her companion on their quest to save the world. The result is a story that will require Genie to decide about her own responsibilities and accept herself.
One of the most amazing things about this book, and there are plenty, is the mixture of Chinese Folklore and this YA setting. As someone not as well versed as they’d like to be, this was like having an intense story time session and then watching the events play out. While the synopsis doesn’t reveal too much, this story takes the folklore to a new level, one that I think is incredibly nuanced and extremely special.
Genie Lo has to be one of my spirit characters, except she is really tall. I have never felt like I resonated so much with a character until Genie and that, in and of itself, is so special to me. She is nerdy, goal driven, and humorous. Her narration style keeps you flipping pages as she is both honest, clever, and sassy. She is about twice the person I was in high school, and absolutely the person I would have wanted to be.
Speaking of characters, I enjoyed all of them. Everyone from Quentin, to her best friend, to her parents. They each had something that defined them as a person, not just a plot twist. Whether it be an annoying sense of humor, a violin hobby, or their backstory, it was each a fabulous piece of their story and personality. Quentin especially grew on me, and the others I loved from the very beginning.
Mixture of Supernatural and ‘Ordinary’
Yee balances the mundane and the supernatural fabulously, even mixing them when you’d least expect it. There’s meeting with college prep advisors and goddesses all in one day. At the same time as having problems with her best friend, Genie also has problems figuring out how she can harness this inner strength she has to fight. Neither side feels incomplete, instead they work together and only become stronger because of their synergy. The struggles she undergoes range from inviting a boy over to dinner, to figuring out how we simultaneously fight for the future of the world, while not endangering those we love (the typical superhero problem).
Basically you need to read this so we can talk about it, because there are so many other aspects, nuanced plot details, or little realizations of Genie’s that I need to talk about. There’s something in this book for everyone: some comedic situations with dinner faux pas, action filled fights against hostile spiritual entities, tender moments between parents and children, and a smidge of well-earned romance.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.