The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

5/5 Stars
Published by Amulet Books
Published August 8th, 2017

Synopsis: 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…

This is one of my favorite books of all time. The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is exactly what you would expect it to be - EPIC. Everything about the storytelling is exquisite, creative, and genius. You find yourself immediately attracted to the easy flowing syntax, the meaning behind the mayhem, and the uniqueness of the story. This is one of the first books I have ever seen myself so distinctly represented in. The Chinese legend Journey to the West and the Monkey King is what serves as inspiration to this wonderfully made story. This is a legend I have known since I was a child and one that I have grown up reading, watching, and listening to. It is a legend I could never have imagined would become a YA novel, but F.C. Yee made it happen, and I am incredibly thankful to have it. The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is the spunky, modern twist of the Chinese classic, and brings forward a courageous, rebellious plot that leaves you wanting more. It is refreshing to see Chinese folklore hit the bookshelves in such an impactful way.

Want by Cindy Pon

4/5 Stars
Published by Simon Pulse
Published June 13th, 2017

Synopsis: Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits that protect them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother, who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.

Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is or destroying his own heart?

Want is an absolutely stunning novel. Cindy Pon has crafted a world that is completely unique and unlike anything I have ever read before. This future-esque reimagining of Taiwan, in which the air pollution takes a terrible toll on the people of its city, is creative and hard-hitting, and does not stray far from environmental issues that affect us everyday. This is the first novel I have read by Cindy Pon and I have absolutely no idea why I didn't pick up her books sooner. I have followed Cindy Pon on social media for the longest time and I have watched her be an advocate of and influencer for Asian representation in YA novels. She has changed the game in so many ways and I am forever grateful for her contribution to this community. She has impeccable craftsmanship, rolling out a plot that will keep you not only connected to the story, but subliminally relating the context back to relevant issues in real lifeWant is everything I needed in a novel at the time, becoming a book that I will push onto my friends and family for years to come. It is culturally immersive, includes a myriad of diverse characters, and applicable to situations that are happening around the world, which is what makes it such a universal read.