[Review] Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

09:28 Cilla P 4 Comments



"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."

Title: Crazy Rich Asians (Crazy Rich Asians #1)
Author: Kevin Kwan
Publisher: Doubleday
Source: Bought
Publication Date: 11 June 2013

Review

To me, reading Crazy Rich Asians feels like watching Keeping Up With the Kardashian: fascination and mild revulsion in a constant rotation. I can believe that there are people who live like the characters in this story, but how could people live in such excess? I enjoyed the peek into the opulent lifestyle of the 1% of Singapore society, a side that I hadn't seen in novels before. It's difficult not to - put a crazy amount of money together with a family of meddlesome creatures, you get a fun story. Unfortunately, I never grew to care for any of them.

Rachel Chu, an American-Born Chinese girl born of a single mother, has been in a relationship with Nicholas Young, a handsome academic Singaporean with an Ivy League education. When she comes with him to his home, she discovers that he is not only one of the country's most eligible bachelors, but also heir to a not-so-small fortune. This scenario is so appealing to me for two reasons:

      ↠ Reason #1: Nicholas sounds like an absolute dream. A handsome, rich guy who has a good head on his shoulders and a heart? I admit it, I swooned. I was happy to put myself in Rachel's shoes, and I also understood her shock when she got to know his family. How did this guy come out of that family?
     ↠ Reason #2: I feel like there's this perception of Asian families that can be quite outdated or stereotyped, which some of Rachel's assumptions about Nicholas' family represented, so it's a delight to see some of those assumptions tossed out the window. While I'm on this topic though, I have to mention the prologue, in which a snobbish hotel manager attempts to turn Nicholas' family out of its fancy hotel. I thought it did a brilliant job highlighting prejudice as well as the deception of appearances.

Of course, there are stereotypes that ring true, not necessarily just of Asians but of big, complicated families and people who have a lot of money. There are the controlling matriarchs, the image-obsessed people, the gossiping and meddling aunts, and the beautiful people who buy clothes that are as expensive as a house without blinking. At times, the family dynamics feel familiar. All of these are grounded in Kwan's use of local dialects and phrases. I'm not familiar with most of them, but I have friends who are Singaporean/Malaysian and it's fun to be able to hear their voices in my head while reading.

Despite this familiarity, there are so many characters that we don't get a lot of depth to any of them. I related to Rachel's responses to Nicholas' family, but I felt I never got to know her enough to really sympathise with her. If I didn't care enough for the main character, I certainly didn't for anyone else's problems.

At the end of the day, Crazy Rich Asians is a quick, entertaining read, and it's fantastic to see a depiction of a modern Asian society, albeit a very small, very privileged proportion of that society. There's no a lot of depth to the characters, as we meet so many and don't spend much time with most of them. However, if you expect a reality tv and not a documentary, you'll be pleased with what you get.


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Reading this book contributes to the following challenges:
❥ Goodreads Challenge
❥ The Backlist Reader Challenge
 #ReadDiverse2017
 #DiverseReads2017

4 comments:

  1. Kobo was recommending this novel so much when it first came out and I'll admit I was curious. But no one I know has read it!

    It sounds really interesting though and I've been told that it is humorous? I might give it a shot this summer.

    Great review!

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    1. I think some people would find it funny! For me, it was less LOL and more wry laughter. I'd love to know what you think if you decide to read it!

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  2. I haven't actually read any of the series and wasn't sure whether it would be my thing or not due to the opulent lifestyle mainly. I tend to find characters a tad shallow but Nicholas sounds really wonderful. It reminds me of a scripted reality show so looking forward to giving this a read now. Wonderful review Cilla and so glad you found it entertaining <3

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    1. Oh, a number of the characters are really shallow. I think the dynamics between the characters are more interesting than each of them by themselves, if that makes sense. I think if you don't mind watching scripted reality shows, you wouldn't mind this one either. Thanks Kelly! <3

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