Posts Tagged ‘Crazy Rich Asians

17
Jul
17

Honestly, by the end of the trilogy, I was nauseated. CBR9 Review 44.

UnknownI really liked Crazy Rich Asians. I’ll still see the movie. I have high hopes. It was a mostly fun look at the immense level of wealth in Singapore, and how these uber-wealthy families live their lives out in the world.

And I had some trouble with the second book, China Rich Girlfriend. All the details that had been amusingly shocking in the first book were now just shocking and a bit disgusting. The sheer waste of money on things like clothes and jewelry and handbags was just overwhelming and perplexing to me. And the attempted murder? No thanks.

But I was willing to give Kevin Kwan the benefit of the doubt for the new book, the last in this crazy trilogy. It did have some moments when I actually felt some sort of empathy for a few of the characters, but for the most part, it just made me feel like I had eaten something bad.

Seriously. This book made me sick.

I couldn’t stand reading about the excess and greed and all-around snobbery. There were a few characters I still hoped would have a happy ending, but there were an even larger number of characters that I felt ill will toward. Eddie Cheng? I wanted to punch him in the face every time he opened his mouth. Nicky’s mother and her bible club? The worst people in the world.

There was an interesting story somewhere underneath all of the excess. I’d like to know more about Singapore during World War II and what happened with the Japanese. I’m curious to know about how the real estate market works in a country like Singapore that has such a small amount of land and such a large number of wealthy people. I want to know more about the islands of the Philippines, and exactly how one goes about purchasing one.

The one positive thing I can definitely say about these books is that I spend more time googling architecture and natural wonders than with any other books. I love reading about parts of the world that I’m unfamiliar with, and Kevin Kwan sure does an excellent job in making me want to travel throughout southeast Asia. He also makes me want to eat. I was googling all sorts of rice dishes and noodles and tropical fruits and teas. He’s the best at making you desperately want to try something you hadn’t heard of five minutes before.

I liked Kwan’s writing style. And I enjoyed about 45% of this crazy ride that he took me on. Yes, I understand that there are actually people in the world like this, and that this is a satirical look at them. I just don’t find them to be all that funny.

STUPID, ANNOYING SPOILER TO FOLLOW

My biggest gripe with this entire book was a throwaway line in the last chapter. After Nicky, Rachel, Colin, Minty, and Kitty (along with a few other friends and cousins) figure out how to save Tyersall Park, suddenly the unbearable and money obsessed Kitty has become a loving, hands-on mother. She turns away from her friends to go and breastfeed her three year old son, which is fine. My annoyance is due to the fact that I don’t think she ever breastfed him a single time for the first 2 1/2 years of his life. Simply deciding that you want to be a mom who nurses doesn’t make the milk magically appear.

That bugged me.

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11
Feb
16

The last one was fun. This one felt more like homework. CBR8 Review 9.

Unknown-3Remember a few years ago when the ridiculously fun Crazy Rich Asians came out? And we all devoured it and laughed and said, well, that was crazy but it was fun, and then forgot about it?

Well, our favorite (and lots of our not-so-favorite) crazy, rich Asians are back in the sequel. China Rich Girlfriend is still the story of Rachel and Nick, and how their marriage has broken apart Nick’s family. But this book is about soooooooo much more. And I don’t necessarily mean that in a good way.

Not only do we revisit every single character from the first book, but we meet lots of new characters here. And we jet from Sinagpore to Hong Kong and China every few pages. And its hard to keep up. And somewhat unpleasant, to boot.

The shocking excess from the first book are still here, and even MORE excessive, if you can believe that. In this book, we meet several of the new class of Chinese billionaires — those with so much money that its honestly unconceivable. But I didn’t enjoy their tales of outlandish spending and waste. This time it was more uncomfortable than laughable.

Nick’s mother, the unbearable Eleanor, finally figures out who Rachel’s father is. And unsurprisingly, he’s one of the richest men in Asia. As Eleanor tries to weasel her way back into Nick and Rachel’s life, we meet Rachel’s new dad, his wife, his playboy son, Carlton, and Carlton’s absurd fashionista, Instagram famous, billionaire girlfriend, Colette.

And I don’t know why this story wasn’t as fun to read as the first one. But reading about someone buying out entire boutiques in Paris, and then refusing to pay for valet parking gets old after a while. This one felt more like assigned reading.

And so, I treated it like homework. Whenever Kwan mentioned something about a specific area of China/Singapore/Hong Kong, I looked it up and learned about it. For instance…the “tiny” black and white bungalows that all of the top families in Singapore live in? They look like this:

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Adorable and charming and tiny, right?

And the great lake in Hangzhou where Rachel goes to meet her friend? Stunning.

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So, I’m glad that I learned a little bit about some of the background in these books, but I think I’m just tired of the sheer, unapologetic excess. I know Kevin Kwan is still trying to make a statement about the new state of economics in Asia. But I’m just not sure what that statement is.

29
Sep
13

Scootsa1000’s #CBR5 Review 43: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Unknown-2This book has a glittery gold cover with hot pink font. And the insides are just as fabulous.

Is Crazy Rich Asians a great piece of literature? Good god, no. But I had a terrific time reading it and have been gleefully recommending it to friends. And I felt super-cool when I saw that one of my best friends from High School was thanked in the acknowledgements section — like I was just one degree of separation away from all of this madness.

Crazy Rich Asians is the single most batshit crazy book I’ve ever come across. Its about the uber-wealthy, .1% Southeast Asian population — in this case, mostly based in Singapore. Its a world of private jets, couture wardrobes, overseas educations, and $40 million weddings. Oh, and also backstabbing snobs who love to gossip. Awesome.

Nick Young (born in Singapore) and Rachel Chu (ABC – American Born Chinese) have been dating for two years in New York. They are both professors at NYU and are so alike in so many ways. Rachel’s family loves Nick, but Nick’s family doesn’t even know that Rachel exists. Until…Nick brings Rachel home to Singapore for the “wedding of the year”. Nick is the best man for his friend Colin, a billionaire playboy, who is marrying the most famous, most glamourous Asian supermodel ever. Rachel has no idea what she’s in for.

The descriptions of sheer excess are absolutely insane. The shopping excursions, real estate portfolios, and bachelor/bachelorette parties made me laugh out loud, because I really didn’t know how else to react. But underneath the ridiculousness, there was an interesting commentary on wealth, excess, and prejudice particularly in Singapore and Southeast Asia.

This isn’t Shakespeare, but Kevin Kwan can write. Its been dubbed as “the ultimate beach read”. Well, Summer is over, but I still enjoyed the hell out of it. I haven’t been this entertained by a book in quite a while. I’ll keep an eye out for Kwan’s future works, for sure.




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