fiction

Book Review: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

I so wanted to read Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (Doubleday, 2013) when it first came out. It was so hyped and so many of my friends were reading it. I kept seeing it everywhere, but somehow I never got around to it. And then the movie came out and that was everywhere and everyone was talking about it and I resolved to read it again so I could see the movie, and then neither of those happened! You know how it goes. But then came the 2020 PopSugar Reading Challenge, and from their prompt of a book with a pink cover, the Goodreads group suggested this book, and I went, “HEY! I can finally read that book!” And I did, blowing through it in just a tad over two days. (Sidenote: apparently books with pink covers are not my thing! My TBR has barely any pink in it whatsoever. Huh.)

Rachel Chu has no idea what she’s getting into when she agrees to spend the summer in Asia with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young. Nick’s family’s is part of a group of fabulously rich Chinese Singaporeans whose wealth exceeds that of small and many medium-sized countries. Rachel, however, has no idea about any of this, and so off she jets with Nick, nervous but expecting nothing beyond more traditional Chinese parents.

The drama begins almost immediately, with Nick’s best friend’s wedding, his mother determined to end Rachel and Nick’s relationship, and every available woman looking to become the next Mrs. Nicholas Young. Interspersed with these chapters are the stories of Nick’s friends and family members, who prove that sometimes, mo’ money really is mo’ problems. Money can’t buy happiness, but its presence makes for a fast-paced story about the upper echelons of Chinese Singapore.

On its surface, a book about filthy rich people doesn’t necessarily seem like it would be right up my alley, but when you take into account my love of getting to peek into societies and groups of people to which I would never gain access even in my wildest dreams, this book was actually a perfect fit. I’m a pretty simple person: the house I live in is modest, my clothing is almost entirely secondhand, and when it comes to food, I’m a happy beans-and-rice kind of gal. I have no desire to live the kind of lives the characters in this book are living, but seeing their fabulous displays of wealth- the food, the exorbitant amount of money dropped on couture, real estate, and extravagant interior design- was fun.

I didn’t quite love Rachel; she seemed to be lacking a bit in personality, but she did pick up at the end. I have to say I do agree with some of the reviews that point out that a lot of the characters are flat. Nick doesn’t have a ton of personality either, but for me, there’s enough drama going on that it’s enough to carry the rest of the story. It’s a bit like a soap opera in book form: lots of villains, a TON of backstabbing and plotting behind the scenes, over-the-top wealth so overwhelming that it’s almost campy at times, people are characterized as one thing and one thing only- but it’s fun to read if you’re not above that sort of thing. It’s a great escape from the chaos of the world right now. (I grew up watching Days of Our Lives with my mom, back in the days when Jensen Ackles, Dean from Supernatural, was on there, so I’m definitely not above this stuff!)

There are two more books in the series, and I don’t know when I’ll get to them, but I’d like to. I especially want to know what happens to Astrid and her marriage. I found her the most sympathetic character and am kind of invested in her storyline. Will Rachel and Nick ever get married? Will his mother get what she deserves? I neeeeeeeeeeed to know all of this! Someone come cook dinner and clean for me and parent my children so I can spend my time diving into the sequels, please. And I need to see the movie now. Hopefully soon!

Have you read the books? Seen the movie? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Visit Kevin Kwan’s website here.

Follow him on Twitter here.

6 thoughts on “Book Review: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

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