Monday, July 10, 2017

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo

I would like this review to consist of me shaking you, frantically, by the shoulders and yelling "READ THIS BOOOOOOOOK!!!"




 However, that is a rather violent way to recommend a book, and I don't really like touching people I don't know, and perhaps you'd respond better to a reasoned and measured review.


But oh, I am tempted to just post GIFs of my excitement and love for this. So tempted.


Genie Lo is not your ordinary high school student, because there really is no such thing. But there really really is no such thing when you're six feet tall, Chinese-American, and saddled with the name "Eugenia." Or when your entire high school is one giant competitive race to get in the best colleges with a combination of academic genius, social volunteer work, and talents like writing an orchestral concerto at the age of nine, breaking Olympic records for hurdling, or possibly something a bit more esoteric, like cat juggling.



Genie is smart, but so is everyone at her school. Her height could give her an advantage, except she's really bad at basketball and just sort of good at volleyball, mostly because she can just reach over the net and score. But Genie is determined to get into the most exclusive colleges. She's not going to end up like her dad, and she definitely has to live up to her mom's expectations. Like answering immediately, otherwise Mom will think she's pregnant. Because logic. 

But Genie's problems don't stop there. Walking to school one day, she sees a guy getting mugged. Well, more just like beaten to a pulp. Genie doesn't tolerate unfairness, so she hurls her backpack at them and screams for them to get away. Oddly, this actually works (kinda). But she gets the shock of her life (one in a forthcoming series of very odd shocks) when the muggee (can I make that a word? It's now a word) strolls into homeroom and announces, "I have arrived."



Oookay. Santa Firenza Prep is, possibly for good reason, inhabited by people who are very talented, and may perhaps have an elevated opinion of themselves. But this dude is something else. Quentin Sun is unbelievably hot. Like, chiseled man-perfection. He is also rather short for a stormtrooper dude, so there's a teensy bit of a Tom Cruise complex going on. But all that hotness can't save him from Genie's temper. On second thought, he probably shouldn't have claimed her as his property in front of other students, mmm?

After some dating-related shenanigans and vainly trying to convince her best friend, Yunie, that no, she is not dating the hot new Chinese guy and no, Mom, I'm not marrying him even if you do like him and his parents, Genie finds out the truth about Quentin Sun.

He's a god. In fact, he's Sun Wukong the Monkey God, one of China's most famous deities, if only because he's extremely human and cheeky for being immortal. Genie is a reincarnation, too. She built up enough karma in her past life to come back as a human, which is hard to do. I imagine it's like those reward points they have at stores or for airlines--to get the really good rewards, you need an almost unimaginable amount of points. Only here we're not talking $50 off at Ulta (which is, however, pretty sweet)--it's literally coming back to life in a rockin' human body. And no, Genie isn't a reincarnation of the monk who traveled across China with Quentin centuries ago, or any of his acolytes.

She's the Ruyi Jingu Bang--the Monkey God's staff. And all Quentin wants to do ... is wield her.


And all those buff dudes who have been attacking Quentin? Yeah, escaped demons from Diyu (Chinese Hell, basically). Sun Wukong put most of them in that prison and now they are out and looking for revenge, as any dark-aligned malevolent force would be wont to do. So. Will Genie accept her fate as the Ruyi Jingu Bang, a weapon so powerful it almost destroyed Heaven and the Jade Emperor Himself, or will she worry more about her application packet to top colleges not being good enough?

Well, like any true perfectionist, Genie does both, and I love her for that. She also unabashedly thinks Quentin is super hot, and would very much like to kiss him, except for when he is talking, and then she wants to punch him in the face. And with her new Ruyi Jingu Bang-improved skills (like changing her size and punching, really, really, really hard), she could do some damage.

Thankfully, the bickering pair has help in the form of Bodhisattva Guanyin, Goddess of Mercy, and the only other person to have achieved Buddhahood besides, you know, Buddha. She's accompanied by Erlang Shen, a water god. Guanyin also happens to be Quentin's ex, so, you know, nothing awkward there.

But with a hundred demons to defeat, Quentin and Genie may have a tougher fight ahead than they imagined. Plus, being the most awesome weapon in the universe is really tough when you also have to go to school and keep your mom convinced that you haven't suddenly become a juvenile delinquent.

Here's the thing: the story in this book is awesome. It's got kissing, it's got epic fighting, it's got mythology ... it's chock-full o'goodness. BUT that's not even the best part. The best part is Genie's voice. Yee has captured a snarky seventeen-year-old so well that it's slightly unnerving. I can't tell you how many times I laughed out loud because of her snark. I'd give you my favorite quotes, but looking at all the bookmarks in my copy ... that's basically the entire book.

Therefore, my suggestion for your immediate course of action is to:

a) call/email/FB chat/go to your local library and request that they order a copy of this book and put your name on the hold list

b) buy this book

After either doing A) or B) or both, please do the following:

Read the book.

Have all the feels.

Erupt in hysterical laughter.

Demand more.







I recevied an ARC of this title from Netgalley.

5 comments:

  1. Sounds like fun. Um, just a question: here, we have selective high schools, where all the things you mention are likely to happen, ie everyone is talented and does exciting things. But you have to sit an exam first and it's unlikely someone average would get in. What kind of a school is this one in the book? Do you have selective schools over there? And if this is one, how did this heroine get in? Or maybe it just happens that everyone is talented?

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    1. She goes to a prep school (Santa Firenza Prep), so you're right--presumably she did apply to get in. If that was mentioned in the book, I missed it. But I also think part of it is a weird joke based on stereotypes of people a) around the Bay Area and b) who have parents who were born in China or Korea or Japan. I don't live there, but the general idea is that the Bay Area and Silicon Valley are chock-full o' geniuses, having been born to other geniuses, I suppose. Plus, Yee plays a lot with the stereotyping of Chinese-American students as being good at everything, and since there are a lot of Chinese-American kids at her school, Genie doesn't stand out as much as she needs to in order to get into, say, Stanford.

      I don't know if that makes sense or not. It's kind of an unspoken socio-economic assumption that I make about that part of the country.

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    2. ALSO, another one of Genie's struggles in the book is to fight the (Chinese) cultural norm of calling in favors to get places--she wants to attend university on her own merit, not because she knows someone Important.

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  2. Thanks! Just one more question: what is a prep school? Is it a kind of selective school?

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    Replies
    1. Yes, it's short for college preparatory, so it's more intensive and intended to get you into a "good school," by which they mean a prohibitively expensive school. ;)

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