Sunday, August 2, 2015

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Amazon Description: When New Yorker Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home and quality time with the man she hopes to marry. But Nick has failed to give his girlfriend a few key details. One, that his childhood home looks like a palace; two, that he grew up riding in more private planes than cars; and three, that he just happens to be the country’s most eligible bachelor. 
On Nick’s arm, Rachel may as well have a target on her back the second she steps off the plane, and soon, her relaxed vacation turns into an obstacle course of old money, new money, nosy relatives, and scheming social climbers.

My Review: Do not read this book for the substance. Read this book for the style—both literal and metaphorical! Crazy Rich Asians can sort of be described as the Shopaholic series meets the Gossip Girl series meets Jane Austen. This is the part where you go, Jane Austen? Seriously? Are you mad?

No, I am not mad. (Okay, maybe I sort of am...but that has no bearing on this review.) Jane Austen's books never have huge, complex plots; rather, her books' strengths lay in her wonderful, witty, and wry characterizations, her ability to tell a story just be detailing mundane mannerisms and witty banter and colloquial dialogue. And Crazy Rich Asians was, surprisingly, very similar in this aspect! There WERE tangible plots, don't get me wrong, and quite a few of them—divorces and affairs and weddings and mysteries—but they all sort of blurred and blended together. What REALLY stuck out were the characters themselves! Tiny details about them and their lives, their personalities, their families... It painted a very interesting picture and I actually really grew to like several characters. So people who like Jane Austen—who can get behind character- and society- and mannerism-driven books (versus plot driven)—could actually really like this book.

And as for the Shopaholic and Gossip Girl aspect...I don't think that needs much explaining. The book is STUFFED with luxuries and lavishness. Brand names (some I'd never even heard of, which was startling), cars, houses, food, parties, social codes of conduct... It was glitzy and golden and frou-frou and I loved it. It was pure lush escapism and the fact that it took place in Singapore, that it told a story about rich Asian people, only made it all the cooler, because I think we're all pretty familiar with stories about wealthy white people. We've seen enough movies/shows and read enough books to know how it goes with them, whether West Coast or East Coast or European. However, ASIAN wealth? Not a world many of us are privy to often! And even though this book was obviously dramatized, due to some research I did, the lives of the fabulously wealthy in Asia aren't really all that different from how Kevin Kwan wrote. 


This book is just pure fun. I couldn't really find any faults with it, because what's to hate? We had a likable, middle-class narrator whose shoes we could easily step into. We had drama and romance and pure, bubbly, mindless fun. Was it revolutionary or thought-provoking or something you'd reread a hundred times? Probably not. But sometimes you just need to kick back and read about fashion and gossip and the crazy things that crazy rich people do!

Cover: I really like it. I'm not a fan of the hardcover cover so I'm glad I got the paperback. The colors are vibrant and the design is simple and elegant. It's chic and fun, which pretty much describes the feel of the whole book!

Overall Grade: A-

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