Genie Lo plays hard but studies harder, and she doesn’t let anyone get in her way. But when new boy Quentin arrives at her Bay Area high school and attaches himself to her like they’re long-lost friends, Genie suddenly has more trouble than she can cope with. Because Quentin is actually the Monkey King from Chinese mythology, and he is here to stop a legion of escaped demons from laying waste to the Bay Area.
Of course, Genie isn’t going to accept that story. Not even when Quentin demonstrates superhuman wushu skills, takes down his pants to show her his tail, and – after a sensational knock-em-down-drag-em-out-and-snap-his-neck fight - sends the Demon King of Confusion back to Hell, Genie still refuses to get with the programme. But there’s something about Quentin she’s drawn to like a magnet, which isn’t a surprise because – in a past life – they used to fight alongside each other. Well, not exactly alongside each other. When Genie finally accepts that all this is real, she’s got another shock coming: she used to be the Monkey King’s staff, the most powerful weapon in the universe, and she’s the reason the demons are descending to wreck her neighbourhood.
F.C. Yee has pulled off an admirable sleight-of-hand with The Epic Crush of Genie Lo because, at its very core, this is no more and no less than a hugely enjoyable retread of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with a Big Trouble in Little China twist. In fact, conceptually and structurally, it plays exactly like every ‘ordinary kid who discovers she was born to fight supernatural evil’ movie and tv show we’ve ever seen. But Yee pulls the whole thing off with such style and wit (the dialogue is as satisfyingly slam-bang as the action sequences) that its second handedness really doesn’t matter, and the way he reinterprets and retro-engineers the Monkey King legend is genius. Genie Lo is also a terrific young heroine, sarcastic and bad tempered, whose motivations and thought processes are so entirely believable that we immediately unquestioningly accept all the demonic madness happening around her and just strap ourselves in for the ride. And what a ride this is. Even though you’ll always know what’s coming (mostly) you’ll almost certainly find yourself eagerly turning the pages with a goofy smile on your face. We can’t wait to see what Genie Lo does next. Is there any better recommendation?
THE EPIC CRUSH OF GENIE LO / AUTHOR: F. C. YEE / PUBLISHER: ABRAMS / RELEASE DATE: 8TH AUGUST