Monthly Archives: June 2014

Review: Crazy Rich Asians

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I. Hated. This. Book.

Wow, it was the worst book I’ve read in a really long time and I made myself finally finish it last night. It’s hard to make yourself spend a few hours reading about a story you don’t care for and people you hate.

What the book lacked in plot and character development, it made up for in buttloads of descriptions of excess. I don’t know why someone thought that these unbelievable (but apparently fairly accurate) descriptions of the houses, cars, clothes, hotels, etc could make up for a weak storyline and even weaker characters.

Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians follows the story of Rachel, a young woman who goes on a summer vacation with her boyfriend Nicholas back to his native Singapore to attend his best friend’s wedding. Turns out that Nicholas’s family is, you guess it, crazy rich. And by crazy rich, I mean like they’re so rich they don’t even talk about how rich they are. And they don’t like Rachel because she’s not rich and her family is of questionable background.

We’re meant to see this crazy rich world through Rachel’s eyes. But I just found her so uninteresting. She is supposed to be a professor in Economics at (maybe) NYU. She is apparently worldly, educated, sensible, etc. She just ends up seeming unbelievably naive to me. Like, has she never visited an Asian family before? Has she never visited anyone’s family before? All she does throughout the novel is get shepherded from mansion to mansion to spa to mansion and has run ins with bitches, bitches and more bitches and she does nothing to stand up for herself. Her character is as frustrating because she’s constantly the victim and does nothing to assert herself. Why should we feel for this girl? Part of the issue seems to be how Kwan writes his female characters. He doesn’t seem to be a real idea of how females talk, interact and think. It reads like he spent a couple hours watching and rewatching Mean Girls. His male characters are better developed but again, why should we feel for any of them? They

The plot is so thin and the characters are of such little importance to the author who just masturbates all over the pages with so. much. description. that adds so little to the actual story. Why do I need to know the specific details of each character’s house – the outrageous price of such and such antique ming vase, the exact cost of the gold baroque detailings in the crown moulding, the amount of servants and lady maids, etc. Towards the end, I just started skimming past the descriptions because it was getting so annoying.

I will give it to Kwan that his setting is certainly interesting and Singapore comes across like a whole other planet because it’s so far removed from the world I come from. I also enjoyed his extensive and satirical footnotes. But none of that is enough to make me recommend this book.

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