"This is so wrong," he said, his words slightly muffled as I bit him in the mouth. "It's like King Arthur having feelings for Excalibur."
The struggle to get into a top-tier college consumes sixteen-year-old Genie Lo's every waking thought. But when her sleepy Bay Area town comes under siege from hell-spawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are suddenly and forcefully rearranged.
Her only guide to the demonic chaos breaking out around her is Quentin Sun, a beguiling, maddening new transfer student from overseas. Quentin assures Genie she is strong enough to fight these monsters, for she unknowingly harbors an inner power that can level the very gates of Heaven.
Genie will have to dig deep within herself to summon the otherworldly strength that Quentin keeps talking about. But as she does, she finds the secret of her true nature is entwined with his, in a way she could never have imagined…
Oh, but this was one fun and awesome book! It had normal high school stuff - like worrying about your future, finding what you're truly interested in etc. - and then kickass demon-killing, so like, THE perfect mix of real life + fantasy!? The combination of these two parts of Genie's life was so natural and well done that The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is definitely one of the best Urban Fantasies out there.
The novel is centered around Chinese folklore/legends, which was incredibly interesting to read about and definitely made the book stand out from all the Fantasy novels I've read so far.
And then there were the characters, damn, the characters were freaking fantastic. Genie, our Chinese-American heroine (#ownvoices), was so sassy and badass and I want her to be my friend, please and thank you. She worked her ass off at school and NEVER gave up on her dreams, not even when people basically told her to. THAT WAS SO INSPIRING. I loved Genie, obviously.
I also really adored her relationship with her mom - her mom could annoy the heck out of Genie, but, boy, did they love each other very much! Ooh, and her dad was amazing, as well! He was such a good listener and knew when to not ask questions from Genie. I do hope that her parents will get more friendly to each in the future books, because I really want to see parents remaining on good terms after divorcing each other.
I've seen young people in real life being really scared when their parents were about to go their separate ways and I think it'd be cool to have more divorced parents in books actually being able to tolerate each other. This isn't about The Epic Crush of Genie Lo - just a thought in general, in the case of Genie's parents it made sense that they weren't exactly close anymore. But, one can hope that will change in the sequel(s), huh?
The romance was ADORABLE. Quinton was sooo clueless omg. He was trying hard to say the right thing many times and then... he really missed the mark. Like, really.... which left Genie mortified as fuck. #OTP
"I think Genie is beautiful," he repeated. "Glorious. Perfection incarnate. Sometimes all I can think about is getting my hands on her."
Something I think should be mentioned about the romance is that at the start Quentin is, well, very much like a stalker. He follows Genie around, is super-weird and also appears IN her house, talking with her mom, acting as if he and Genie were friends. Understandably, Genie is creeped the fuck out by him.
But I feel like the author's intention - to portray Quentin as someone incredibly confused by humans, someone who wasn't sure how to be "normal" - came through very well. That said, I can see that for some - especially those who've been in situations involving stalkers - this could be uncomfortable at best to read, which is why I felt inclined to mention it here.
You might ask, why the hell not 5 stars? Well, I loved it all, but there were things I wish we'd gotten more of. Yunie and Genie's friendship was so genuine and my favorite part of the novel... until they just stopped being friends? It didn't make a lot of sense, in my opinion, to have Yunie just... let go of Genie - who was super-occupied with demon hunting - without asking questions.
"I'm going to kill him," Yunie said once she found me in the library at my usual spot. "I'm going to rip his balls off and shove them in his eye sockets."
The parents also conveniently overlooked that Genie was overworn from hunting demons. That idiot guy at her school saw that Genie changed and didn't act or look the same as usual, so it was hard to believe that Genie's parents would just brush her exhaustion off.
On that note, one moment, Genie was only reluctantly accepting that this was all real and she's just figured out how to fight, then there was a time jump and she was casually killing demons, basically, not talking to Yunie or interacting with her parents. The sudden shift really threw me off, but again, that might be because Genie coping with everything she was learning was one of my favorite parts of the novel.
Besides these things (and these are minor things!!), The Epic Crush of Genie Lo was perfect. It was humorous, fast-paced and so very real, with a teen girl narrator who sounded like a real teen. Highly recommended for those who are looking for a unique and fun urban fantasy novel.
The story idea: 5/5
The realization of the story: 3.5/5
The characters: 5/5
The cover: 4.5/5
Enjoy factor: 4/5