Disclaimer: All thoughts and opinions are simply my own honest ones and I have not been asked to write this review. Not everyone may agree with my thoughts and that’s okay! I hope you enjoy reading about mine.
Rating: 2 Stars
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan is the first in a trilogy about a young woman named Rachel Chu who is an Asian girl living in the States with her Asian boyfriend, Nicholas Young. After two years of dating he finally invites her to visit his family in Singapore for the summer his best friend in getting married.
He doesn’t mention the fact that he’s from an incredibly wealthy family (crazy rich, in fact) and she’s justifiably shell shocked by the discovery when they land in his home town.
The story also follows various supporting characters within Asia’s three richest families.
The story begins with Rachel and Nick in the States where he invites her to meet his family in Singapore for the first time in two years of dating (which she never once thought was strange). Their entire relationship dynamic seemed unreal and superficially written. I’m not sure it’s reasonable to think that a couple in their early thirties wouldn’t once think it was strange that a boyfriend didn’t so much as mention the existence of his girlfriend for two years.
They land in Singapore and shockingly, none of Nick’s snobby rich family are accepting of Rachel’s poorer upbringing. They’re judgemental and hate her before she’s even arrived (again, a huge shock considering Nick hadn’t even mentioned her to his mother until after the Asian gossip line told her he was seeing someone).
While the premise sounds promising, character development is next to none in this entire book. I’m not sure if the second and third books delve deeper into Rachel and Nick’s personalities but the first book did a very poor job of turning either of them into substantial characters. They seemed incredibly one dimensional to me through the entire novel. If I had to guess why, I’d say it probably had something to do with the large number of supporting characters. There are three separate families (yet all entwined within each other through marriage) and each family has a matriarch and patriarch, plus children and grandchildren and I found it incredibly difficult to keep track of everyone, especially because the development of any and all characters were so flat it was hard to remember who was who because they all seemed exactly the same – rich, entitled, and snobby.
Rachel wasn’t a believable character since she didn’t seem to have very deep emotion, despite what was happening. She literally didn’t even address any emotions when she heard a bunch of rich girls dragging her through the mud and talking about her behind her back. I would have enjoyed the novel far more if I was able to actually feel what characters were feeling (but other than the one dimensional rich emotion there wasn’t anything else to feel).
The only character worth reading about was Astrid (Nick’s cousin) who’s storyline was slightly more interesting than Rachel’s and about equally as important (or not important). Astrid is dealing with her husband’s affair (which is ruined by the revelation that it wasn’t actually an affair at all – her husband simply wanted out of the marriage but didn’t have the guts to ask for a divorce – covered by the idea that he was “saving Astrid’s reputation from the stain of a divorce.”) The end of her storyline simply destroyed what interesting plot line she had.
At the end of the day it was simply a difficult read because keeping all the identical characters (rich snobs with one dimensional storylines and personalities) made it a bit of a boring read.
Despite that, I would read the second book only in the hopes that things become more substantial with more time spent with these characters, but I’m not entirely sure about that.
This entire book was just one giant excuse for a name drop. Despite the fact that every character is rich, the writing seemed like it was more important to name every designer, hot spot in Asia and Europe, and brand of car, wine, and fancy neighbourhood than it was to give characters interesting personalities.
The only reason I’d pick up China Rich Girlfriend (book two) is to find out more about Michael, Astrid’s heart wrenching ex boyfriend who seems to be the only decent human being in the novel and who illustrated human emotion.
Note: Also a movie adaptation.