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Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-4197-2548-7 $18.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-68335-122-1 $15.54
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 7–10
Hard-driving, hyperachieving Chinese-American sophomore Genie Lo may have to put her take-no-prisoners rush to the Ivy Leagues aside so she can save the world, or at least the local region of California currently under attack by Chinese demons. Why Genie? Well, as new classmate and infuriating possible crush Quentin urgently reveals to her, he is actually the Sun Wukong, Monkey King of Chinese mythology, and she is Ruyi Jingu Bang, the reincarnation of his powerful magical staff. The Jade Emperor, kingpin god of the pantheon, has largely checked out of human affairs, but the merciful Bodhisattva and the Emperor’s nephew, god of the wind, can be called upon to help out as Genie and Quentin battle over a hundred demons out for revenge against the Monkey King. Preposterous as it all seems, Genie begins to see that it does go some distance in explaining her unusual height, tendency toward physical aggression, and stubborn character. That’s not even the half of it: there’s a power play afoot for the Jade Emperor’s throne, and a particularly devious god will not hesitate to toast the Bay Area to a crisp if Quentin and Genie can’t stop him. It’s refreshing to see the Chinese pantheon steal some of the literary attention lavished on the Greek, Roman, and Nordic gods, and Lee handily gets Western readers up to speed on requisite backstories and proclivities. There are plenty of opportunities for double entendres in the weaponized staff imagery, but it’s never overplayed and works in well with narrator Genie’s state of snarky outrage. Loads of action, a touch of comedy, a bit of well-controlled lust, and even some serious discussion of Eastern philosophy should leave readers eager for Genie and Quentin’s return performance.