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.
Genie excelled at her classes. She was already participating in extracurriculars like volleyball and volunteer work to beef up her university application. Her life was thrown off kilter when she met a Chinese exchange student named Quentin, who was involved in some really weird supernatural business. Quentin was, well… not of this world. He was here on a mission, and he needed Genie on his team.
I loved both Genie and Quentin, they were neither perfect, each having their own quirks. Genie was bold, ambitious and she spoke her mind. Quentin was just as intense. The two got along well and had great chemistry. Part of what made this book a fast read for me was because I was intrigued by these two MCs.
We do see a bit of the other parts of Genie’s world, such as her family and her best friend Yunie. Although these relationships were present, I felt like they took backseat to Genie and Quentin’s relationship. Genie’s friendship with Yunie and her relationship with her mom and dad were fascinating. I just wished that they were explored more in the book.
Plot and Pacing
The Epic Crush of Genie Lo was a modern-day continuation of the Journey to the West, a classical Chinese novel that was popular among children. I grew up with this story as a child, so it was super awesome and nostalgic to relive the Monkey King mythology in this novel. I loved how the Monkey King Sun Wukong and the Jingu Bang were brought back to life in this novel.
However much I loved this story, I thought it wasn’t as epic as it could have been. The ending wasn’t anticlimactic, but I felt that it could have been more. Then again I’m hearing that there is a sequel on the way!
As I mentioned before, this novel took no time for me to finish. The writing was light, easy to read and sometimes super hilarious. I loved the dialogues that flowed really well. Really, no complaints about the writing.
As for worldbuilding, the novel took place in modern day, although there were elements of Chinese mythology mixed in. I thought that the writer meshed these two worlds really well, although aspects of the story were very weird (then again Chinese mythology is at times weird lol.)
The Bottom Line: 3/5 stars!
Whether or not you’re a fan of Chinese mythology, The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is a fun and entertaining read.