Overachieving Asian-American protagonist now has mythological superpowers in Chinese twist of the regular YA ‘chosen one’ story. Anyone heard of The Monkey King?
Should you read: It’s not a matter of should, but when. And that is now.
Magic: 100% different from the usual spellcasting western wizards. As put in the book, Chinese magic is beefed up. Anyone can achieve high magical power by working hard enough, but the bad guys end up eating people to shortcut.
Characters: 100% relatable humans, Genie’s mom is hilarious, and for once divine beings don’t seem so omnipotent with their actions. Even if they can fade at will, they can’t run away from their equally complicated life.
Any semblance of YA cringe in love polygons or clichés: 0.1%.
I believe reading diverse books not just from a spin off of Tolkien mythology will add much more ideas and creativity to my writing. You are what you eat. In the English world, there’s not much original English written books about other cultures on the usual top 100 lists. Of course it’s getting better.
After reading wizardry stuff where the blessed ones can unleash fireballs from their soul without as much of a thought because they were blessed, Chinese magic needs meditation to function. It’s a requirement. And that’s a rather different magic system for me.
Another part that struck me was the relationship between Genie and her culture overseas. The Monkey King was compared in the book to ‘Chinese Batman’ because of the popularity of both characters. Genie knew Batman but not the other, because she was exposed to pop culture but not to her mother’s stories passed from China. Don’t worry, book gives a fun summary of some 10000+ pages of mythology.
No more talking about the deep cultural implications. In the end, this story is an action packed journey through school life and demon extermination, and I sure hope for a sequel.