Book Review: Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians is Kevin Kwan’s first novel, released on June 2013. It is described as the following:

Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.

When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn’t know is that Nick’s family home happens to look like a palace, that she’ll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia’s most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back. Initiated into a world of dynastic splendor beyond imagination, Rachel meets Astrid, the It Girl of Singapore society; Eddie, whose family practically lives in the pages of the Hong Kong socialite magazines; and Eleanor, Nick’s formidable mother, a woman who has very strong feelings about who her son should–and should not–marry. Uproarious, addictive, and filled with jaw-dropping opulence, Crazy Rich Asians is an insider’s look at the Asian JetSet; a perfect depiction of the clash between old money and new money; between Overseas Chinese and Mainland Chinese; and a fabulous novel about what it means to be young, in love, and gloriously, crazily rich.

You can imagine how much fun this book is, and how especially enticing it is to Asians. Finally, a book that talks about a different aspect of being Asian, released in mainstream media. No longer are we portrayed as a struggling minority group, a wave of immigrants and nothing else, a cluster of super geeks, the exotic other or even the model child.

A complete summer chick-lit, Crazy Rich Asians was a promising read–a page-turner even–in the first 250 pages, only to end with a sudden disconnect from the audience. I almost felt like I was dumped in a “I loved you but let’s just be friends” kind of way. Where did I go wrong?!

The designer label name-dropping was hilarious…the excessiveness of luxury put the Western phrase #FirstWorldProblems to shame. Being from Richmond, BC made it so easy for me to imagine the characters, especially their lust for basking in all things LV and (insert a car that cost enough to feed a country) super cars. As a matter of fact, Whistler, Vancouver and UBC were all mentioned, so it isn’t a shock that these crazy rich Asians are known to live among us.

The parties, the glam, the drama — expect it all, but in an an explosive manner that puts My Super Sweet Sixteen into a pile for the downtrodden. The book was a delight to read as every chapter features a family member and the shameful stories they carry, hidden from the rest of a seemingly perfect family.

The protagonists, Nick and Rachel however, were a little dull. They weren’t necessarily memorable characters, as their manners in the book were a bit flat and didn’t show how dynamic a person can be. They were a bit unrealistic and uninspiring. Poor them.

The ending was unsatisfying, unfortunately. After reading 200 pages of excitement, I was reluctantly reading the last chapters, especially the last one. It was as if everything was just thrown at me at once, just so the author can move on to his next projects. I wanted it to all be tied up together in a pretty little bow, but instead I had a “who cares?” kind of look in my face (priceless but not the look I go for!).

With that said, I would still recommend this book to all the crazy (some rich) Asians out there, who lust after a light read after a long day of calculating equations (ha, just kidding!). And of course, I recommend this to my bros and sistahs from all around the world, just because it is a sinfully entertaining (til the last part) book that does give you a glimpse of wealthy Asian families and the culture that most Asians understand—saving face, for example. Kwan made me chuckle enough to choke on a pearl in my bubble tea.

Apparently, a lot were pleased too. As a matter of fact, this book will be turned into a film by the producer of The Hunger Games. I wonder which Asians would appear on the silver screen? Definitely breaks the barrier of ethnic misrepresentation in the media, so I look forward to my Vera Wang fittings while Instagramming my lumpia with sweet and sour chili sauce (gotta represent!) before the film premiere 😉

Read more about the book: Crazy Rich Asians



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