The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Going into this book, I had the highest of expectations because all of my fellow bloggers have given it the five stars. Because of the hype, I was fully ready for this to be one of my favorites of the year, but disappointingly there were just some things that didn't work for me. In the end though, I felt that choosing the 4 star rating was the right choice, because although it wasn't my cup of tea, it is such an important piece of literature that should get in as many readers hands as possible.
We start out with Genie Lo, a high school student who is trying her hardest to get into an ivy-league school. Then her stalker/romantic interest Quentin comes to her asking for help with slaying demons from supernatural realms. She than embarks on this whole journey of trying to protect the people that she loves, her hometown, and herself. What's the most fascinating thing about this is that's it's based on Chinese mythology, something that I knew nothing about so I felt like I was in for a treat.
One of the things that bothered me is how long it took to explain the rules of the otherworld, because for most of the beginning parts we didn't get a chance to dive in deeper into the world of reincarnation, heaven, hell, etc. I tried to forced myself to care about any of the characters, but there wasn't any connection that I could grasp because of one trope that I absolutely hate being played out in any book.
The stalker one turning into the love interest makes me feel so uncomfortable. Especially in this book, because of their strange set-up/forced partnership there were lots of beginning scenes of Quentin hardcore stalking Genie and it made my skin crawl and so I started to skim those section.
On another note, I am so amazed how well Yee can capture the voice of a teenage girl, and not make it sound awkward or stilted. One of the highlights of this book was seeing how both Genie and Yee was in writing such an apologetically fierce hella angry female warrior. We need more of that, and this is the perfect example of how it should look like.
However, all of this rambling above is just my subjective preferences, right? I truly see the value of exploring the diaspora and what it means to be a Chinese-America by an ownvoices author. I would still recommend you picking this up to read, going in with a clean slate, because in every aspect of representation it is so brilliantly done. I'm sure that there are many Chinese people out there who would like to see themselves in book, and this is an excellent choice to pick up.
**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.**
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