Crazy Rich Asians (Crazy Rich Asians, #1)by Kevin Kwan Published 11 Jun 2013
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Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.
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. Uproarious, addictive, and filled with jaw-dropping opulence, Crazy Rich Asians is an insider's look at the Asian JetSet; a perfect depiction of the clash between old money and new money; between Overseas Chinese and Mainland Chinese; and a fabulous novel about what it means to be young, in love, and gloriously, crazily rich.
"Crazy Rich Asians (Crazy Rich Asians, #1)" Reviews
I am Asian, I lived in Singapore, and I am not crazy rich - but I certainly heard of enough people on that tiny island who are. Ten years ago, I remember being addicted to a blog (now defunct) called "pinkshoefetish" where one Daphne Teo of Singapore documented every single materialistic extravaganza in her life - endless Tod's bags, Chanel, the luxurious apartment she (or her parents) rented when she was at Purdue (no stinky student dorms for her), her endless jet-setting to the most expensive hotels and restaurants in New York, London, Paris, etc. At that time, I wasn't even sure I could afford to go to college, so Daphne's blog was pure escapism (if not a source of resentment). I don't remember what her parents did to afford that lifestyle, but anyway, my point is - the crazy rich Asians of East and Southeast Asia do exist, and man do they live large. When I saw that a Singaporean had written a novel about them, and that it was in the hands of a major NYC publishing house, I couldn't wait to read it, to see what had caught the attention of these editors, so much that they were willing to take on a book about Asians, set in Singapore.
I got an ARC of the book from eBay and devoured it in two days. And, perhaps I am biased because of who I am and my (slight) exposure to that world, but I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT. It satirizes the crazy rich Asian universe, but even with the exaggerations, my college friend, who is part of the Hong Kong version of the Wealthy Asian Club, would recognize so many aspects depicted in the novel - the lightning speed at which gossip travels, the focus on bloodlines and marriage, the clash between old money and new, and - most important I think - the tension between mainland Chinese and overseas Chinese, a phenomenon that is very real, very common, very much discussed in Asia, but pretty much unheard of in the West. When Singaporean Chinese "blue blood" Nick takes his American Chinese girlfriend Rachel home, his family is concerned that, yes, she might be a gold-digger, but their suspicions are heightened by the fact that she was - to their horror - born in mainland China, to a single mother (more strikes against her!). I laughed when I read that, because I was brought up in Asia where those prejudices are part and parcel of everyday life, but an American reader might find it offensive and racist - which it is, but in a "Chinese" sort of way that is not so much about hatred. The book shows how those prejudices are challenged as mainland Chinese grow richer and more influential, and the author sympathetically portrays both sides.
As for the actual storyline - it's a roller coaster ride that might be hard to keep up with at the beginning because of how many characters are introduced (and I always had my finger on the family tree Kwan provides in the book). I found it ridiculous that Nick and Rachel could have dated for years without her finding out about his background, but this is chick lit and so I willingly suspended disbelief and just let myself get carried along into the world of chili crab and nasi lemak. Kwan's writing is clear and breezy and skips along very well, and in the end I was left feeling like Rachel must have when she was plunked into this whirlwind world - amazed, dizzyfied, enlightened.
And it makes me want to go back to Singapore.
A great summer read!
(Oh - the gold and pink hardcover release is cute, but I love how the galley cover plays with the Hermès box design. Clever!)
"Imagine wanting to marry a girl from such a family! So disgraceful! Really, Nicky, what would Gong Gong say if he was alive? Madri, this tea needs a little more sugar."
This is some seriously trashy crack-lit. And no that's not a typo-- this book is as addictive and dramatic and ridiculous as you surely imagine it to be. I should probably hate it, but, well... oops.
You've definitely got to be in the mood for it or you'll wonder why you're actively murdering your brain cells. And I guess I was definitely in the mood for it. Crazy Rich Asians follows the drama and scandals of some of East Asia's wealthiest families. Think filthy stinking rich: mansions, private planes, $25,000 dresses (I didn't even know such a thing existed), etc.
It's opulent, it's melodramatic, and it's completely nuts. This bunch of wealthy families all come together in Singapore for an extravagant fairy tale wedding. But the wedding is the very least of the drama. Nicholas "Nicky" Young, who has been living in New York, is about to bring his American-born girlfriend, Rachel Chu, to meet his parents for the first time, and his mother is almost certainly going to dig up some nastiness when she runs a background check on Rachel's family. Also, Rachel has no clue how rich Nicky is-- hell, is she in for a shock!
Then there's the beautiful Astrid, whose husband is probably having an affair, and she is about to go investigating to find out. Plus there's a bunch of other subplots about what these ridiculously rich people get up to. It is like the Asian version of all those terrible eighties soap operas like Dallas and Dynasty, and I say "terrible" but I totally used to watch reruns of those with my mum, too.
I don't know why I liked it; I just did. Maybe it's because I'm nosy and enjoy the drama of other people's lives. Maybe it's because these superficial rich people problems are an enjoyable break from the real world. Maybe it's because it does exactly what it says on the label. Maybe I just have terrible taste. Well, like I said... oops.
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This was a really fun read. I went into it with the intention of consuming it just for entertainment purposes and not quality/depth which I think is the best mindset to read this story in.
CW: racial slurs, homophobia slurs, talk of cheating, prejudice/classism
I did not love the writing style of this novel (which I expected before going in.) The syntax was fairly weak and the voice of individual characters was not that strong. Also regarding the characters, the author has this habit of jumping between perspectives without warning? Each chapter begins with a description of what character point of views will be followed but throughout the chapter, but it changes frequently with no distinction. For example, a conversation may begin from Rachel’s perspective and describe her thoughts and internal reactions but two lines later without any indication, we will be in Astrid’s head. Of course, multiple perspectives are commonly featured in fiction, especially in third-person narratives, but the lack of structure and awareness for the reader was quite jarring and nonsensical.
Crazy Rich Asians is absolutely a plot-based series. You read it to follow these unique characters across this absurd journey of wealth, extravagance and drama. I will add that I particularly enjoyed the heavily influence of Chinese and Singaporean culture, albeit the wealthy side of that culture, because it is not something I am frequently exposed to. It’s fun, entertaining, and gripping. I did not expect to be as invested as I was!
I’m not particularly taken with many of the characters although I see their individual value to the story. Rachel was obviously the most enjoyable character of the story and I did end up really liking Nick, though I remained furious at how he handled exposing Rachel to his family situation for the entirety of the story. I have sympathy for Astrid and enjoyed the comic relief added by Peik Lin and Charlie. Though this is not the most ground-breaking cast of characters I’ve ever read, I can see myself becoming more invested in their lives as the series progresses.
I really enjoyed my time reading Crazy Rich Asians. I initially went into this book thinking I would be satisfied reading just the first installment and not finishing the series, but after finishing, I absolutely need to know where the story goes. If you’re a “trashy fiction” lover, this book is for you.
I think another Goodreads reviewer said it best: "Shallow characters don't mean shallowly written characters."
And in the case of this book, the author didn't pick up on that memo. Shallow characters can be delightfully, wickedly compelling when they're written well. I mean, look at Anthony and Gloria in Fitzgerald's "The Beautiful and Damned", or Becky Sharp in "Vanity Fair" or heck, even Blair Waldorf in the "Gossip Girl" series if you're looking at more "chick-lit" examples. But the characters in "Crazy Rich Asians" are so two-dimensional and flat you just can't care about them.
Also, a pet peeve of mine is when a writer TELLS me something rather than SHOWS me something. This entire book is all tell, no show. Except to show off the author's knowledge of designer labels. Slow clap.
Yes, this is a rather scathing review but I really don't understand all the hype surrounding this book, and I was hoping for more, well, substance (yes, from a glittery gold and hot pinkbook called Crazy Rich Asians, I know. But I think the setting and characters had some originality, timely relevance and promise and the author didn't deliver). Definitely disappointed.
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan is a 2013 publication.
I guess I missed all the hoopla when this book was first released. It wasn’t until the third book started getting a little buzz that I became interested in reading this series.
So, I went in search of this first book- ‘Crazy Rich Asians’, and had no trouble finding a copy at the library- but- there was an abnormally long wait period for a book that is four years old! So, this series must be pretty popular!!
But, I have lots of books I needed to read, so I didn’t mind waiting, and it helped that once I did get a copy I found myself totally immersed in the saga of these fantastically wealthy Asians, their romantic ups and downs, and their family dramas.
Rachel Chu has NO idea what she’s getting herself into when she agrees to attend the wedding of her boyfriend, Nicholas Young’s cousin, Colin, to Araminta Lee. Nick neglects to prepare Rachel for his outrageously rich, and ostentatious family, ignoring dire warnings from some of his family members, to give her a heads up. Nick will soon come to regret throwing Rachel into the mix headlong.
Astrid, Nick’s cousin, is an icon of the social pages, who is in a seemingly sweet and successful marriage, but apparently, not all that glitters is gold.
This book is a like a light -hearted soap opera and I see how this series could become a guilty pleasure. The cast seems enormous, but there is a sharper focus on Nick and Astrid and their relationship woes.
Still, the supporting cast is worth noting- Eddie is Nick’s cousin, who, despite his parents’ lineage and prestige is forced to live beneath the standards of his extended family, which causes him much embarrassment.
Eleanor is Nick’s controlling mother, who plots and schemes to keep him from proposing to Rachel.
Rachel’s mother, Kerry, gives calm, practical advice, and encouragement, in contrast to Eleanor, but is harboring a volatile secret that could ruin Rachel’s chance at happiness with Nick.
There are other supporting players, each with a unique role in the story, all adding a bit more depth to the story.
Normally, I struggle with novels featuring a large cast. I get confused easily and lose track of how the characters are connected and often have a hard time understanding what each one has to contribute to the story.
But, in this instance, ‘the more the merrier’ works perfectly. The author skips back and forth among the characters, giving each of them a moment in the spotlight, but mainly the focus is on the possibly doomed romance between Rachel and Nick and the breakdown of Astrid’s marriage due to class differences and the strain of pretending to be someone you aren’t.
This book is pure chick-lit, but with such vivid, hilarious, and outrageously over the top characters, it was never too heavy on the drama.
The author did a terrific job of showing the differences in generations- the old customs and versus the more relaxed exposure to western customs- the class divisions- the effect wealth has on those who are born into it as opposed to those who worked to achieve it.
The language is authentic, which required some footnotes the author graciously provided. I enjoyed learning about this culture in such a fun and easy way, although it does slow down the momentum, just a little bit.
Overall, this novel turned out to be more than I had anticipated, and I’m glad I discovered this series. I’m looking forward to the next installment and can not wait to see what these crazy rich Asians will get up to next!!
3.5 stars rounded to 4
I'm amazed at how long it has taken me to pick up this book. I remember being intrigued when it was first published; I had my own adventure in Singapore in 2004, which peaked my interest even more but, for whatever reason, it took the film adaptation being released to finally convince me to read it before seeing the movie. It was precisely what I had hoped for, a fun, fluffy read full of delectable "gossip" and drama, and to top it off the diversity of an all asian cast to boot. While it did feel a bit long for a fluffy read, it was kind of nice having a book on the side that I could pick up and put down as I felt lead; truly the perfect read to fill in between the gaps of heavier and darker stories. I laughed a lot, and I keep finding that I'm needing that more and more in my reading line up, but I also think this was due to the narrator's fabulous job of portraying the large cast in unique, individual ways. Although I'm unsure why the following two audible books in the series have a different narrator? At the end of the day, this was a fun read that gives us a sneak peak into the lives of Asia's crazy rich folks and their over the top lifestyles.
Buddy read with Irina Humphrey, even though she already saw the movie. *Sipping my tea*