Thursday, February 22, 2018

The epic crush of Genie Lo by F. C. Yee

I read a teen book! Yes! Me! It was pretty awesome.

Genie has a lot of anger inside. She's angry about her unambitious father and his failing business, about her parents' separation, about her mother's pressure to succeed, about how she's going to make it into a decent college and get out of town. But nothing makes her angrier than seeing another kid getting beat up by a bunch of grown men and the next thing she knows the most annoying, weird teen ever is following her around.

The last thing Genie expected is for Quentin to claim to be Sun Wukong, the Monkey King from Chinese mythology. She also didn't expect him to claim her as his ancient and powerful weapon. Now Genie's REALLY angry. Fortunately, there's a whole horde of demons in her way and she's got friends to defend - and Harvard admissions committees to impress.

Genie made me think immediately of Buffy, but, in my opinion at least, she's a whole lot better. No angsty mooning over boys or uncertainty with how to deal with annoying goddesses and mythical heroes hitting on her - Genie's got a solution for that and it involves her fists and some heavenly beat-downs. She does have a softer side, and her worry and confusion over being just a weapon and not a human being are beautifully written without detracting from the adventure and action of the story. Genie's snarky personality hides some inner vulnerability and her musings on her Chinese-American culture, both the parts she loves and the parts she hates, and her struggles to find a way to protect her friends and family and fulfill her "destiny" while still finding her own independence will immediately appeal to readers who have the same dilemma, but on a less world-ending scale!

Verdict: This is sure to appeal to any Buffy fans amongst your teenage readers, but I personally haven't met any in years. I'd hand this to middle school students who love Harry Potter, especially Hermione fans. There's some romance and mild language, but nothing too graphic for younger readers. It's empowering wish-fulfillment at its best and one of the most enjoyable fantasies I've read in quite a while.

ISBN: 9781419725487; Published August 2017 by Amulet/ABRAMS; ARC provided by publisher at ALA; Purchased for the library

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