The struggle to get into a top-tier college consumes sixteen-year-old Genie’s every waking thought. But when she discovers she’s a celestial spirit who’s powerful enough to bash through the gates of heaven with her fists, her perfectionist existence is shattered.
Enter Quentin, a transfer student from China whose tone-deaf assertiveness beguiles Genie to the brink of madness. Quentin nurtures Genie’s outrageous transformation—sometimes gently, sometimes aggressively—as her sleepy suburb in the Bay Area comes under siege from hell-spawn.
This epic YA debut draws from Chinese folklore, features a larger-than-life heroine, and perfectly balances the realities of Genie’s grounded high school life with the absurd supernatural world she finds herself commanding.
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*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from Abrams Books for Young Readers. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel is now on sale.*
Let me start by saying this book is kind of weird. There were multiple times during my reading of this novel where I said to myself, “Wait, what?” For example, very early on it’s revealed that Quentin has a monkey tail. I still don’t fully understand how he hides this from regular people.
However, despite the strangeness of the story I find myself being pretty sucked in to Genie Lo’s story. I found her strive to get accepted into an Ivy League school and leave her life in suburbia behind relatable. I also really enjoyed her friendship with Yunie and liked how their friendship was kind of tested during the novel.
Genie and Quentin’s relationship was also interesting and also a little strange. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to like him at first or not. Genie certainly didn’t, and rightly so. Still, as the novel went on, I started to really ship them and they had some cute moments that made me laugh and smile.
As far as the demon fighting goes, though, I wasn’t all that impressed by that plot. It seemed pretty easily resolved in the end to me; however, there was a nice little twist that did surprise me. Even with the twist though, I didn’t really find the villains impressive and I was annoyed with Guanyin, the goddess that was supposedly on Quentin and Genie’s side. The way she treated Genie annoyed me and made no sense to me. I felt the same way about Genie’s mom, as well.
There were also some plot points that just seemed to fall off and never really be explained. For example, I’m not sure what the relationship with Guanyin and Quentin really was in the past. And Genie’s involvement with volleyball team seemingly disappears entirely halfway through the novel, as well as the girl who tormented her.
Overall, I wanted more from this novel. I could’ve done with a little more romance, more action, and more of Yunie. I believe this is a stand alone, but I’d actually be interested in seeing this story continue, because I think it could only get better.
For now though, this novel just didn’t do it for me.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow
Reading As I Am
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