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Fiction,  Review

Crazy Rich Asians (Crazy Rich Asians #1) by Kevin Kwan

Crazy Rich Asians was entertaining, fun, dramatic, steady paced fiction with amazing characters and fantastic details on East Asian culture and tradition. I read this with Toni and we both enjoyed it.

Crazy Rich Asians (Crazy Rich Asians #1) by Kevin Kwan

Publication Date : May 20th 2014

Publisher : Anchor

Genre : Fiction / Contemporary

Pages : 527

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Synopsis

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.

Review

Crazy Rich Asians was interesting and dramatic fiction that revolved around Rachel’s summer vacation at Singapore with her boyfriend Nick and meeting Nick’s relatives that changed her whole life and her view of her boyfriend. The story was about East Asian culture, tradition, life style of crazy rich people, snobbery, prejudice, social class difference, perceptions towards people from mainland China or overseas, family, friendship, and love.

Writing was interesting. It wasn’t like anything I read in any book. It was simple and yet had that captivating feel, descriptive and vivid. The story was written in multiple third person narrative from many charatcers’ POV which was surprising as before I started book I was expecting Rachel and Nick’s view more in focus but here all characters were given equal importance. Good thing, even with many perspective and huge cast I never felt confused about who is who and whose perspective I was reading.

Prologue was fantastic set in 1986, London that gave glimpse of what people thought of Asians in those days and also the richness and connections of Young family. It set a stage for story, preparing reader of expecting crazy rich things in book and what exactly the Youngs are. Rest of the story was set in 2010 took place mainly in Singopore but it started with Rachel and Nick in New York planning their summer vacation and also attend Nick’s best friend’s wedding. Rachel didn’t know much about Nick’s background and his family, she expected a humble family like her own but when she arrived his hometown Singapore and visited his family she got shock of life. Nick’s family was super crazy rich like royalty, the wedding she was going to attend with Nick was most glamorous event of the year in Singapre, and above all Nick was most eligible bachelor of whole East Asia. Family and friends super snobbery who looked more into family background, bloodline, and how old their money are than person’s character, mothers and daughter trying to keep Rachel out of their way to be Nick’s other half… it was obvious Rachel was going to have terrible time of life.

It got juicier and dramatic as story progressed.
It was fun to read how Rachel would react to Nick’s money and family, plotting of Nick’s mother and other wealthy eligible girls making Rachel target, how she would stand up against discrimination and label of gold digger, what Nick’s mother found about Rachel through her investigator and when it was revealed how that would affect Rachel and Nick’s relationship.

This was more character driven with lots of characters. It was hard to keep up at first and from the family tree in the beginning it was hard to follow who was who and how they were related to each other but as I read more things made more sense. So I suggest to refer family tree when characters and their connections are revealed. Secondary characters were most interesting. I enjoyed reading about Nick’s family.

I loved Astrid and Oliver most out of all secondary character. Oliver was someone you would instantly like if you love gossip and I liked him even more for being in Rachel’s team. He introduced many characters and I liked seeing Young family tree through his eyes. Astrid was fabulous. She wasn’t just multi millionaire diva but her heart was as beautiful as her couture dresses and look. I loved her for giving Nick right advise, making sure Rachel was looked after. She was amazing wife and person. I admired her for the compromises she did in her life style and hiding her shopping spree from her husband, Michael, so he felt poor or incompetent compared to Astrid’s family. I felt for her when she found Michael was having an affair. I could see how hard it was for her to hide that from her family, finding excuse for Michael’s absence and keeping brave face. It hurt me to see she was ready to accept infidelity just so her family don’t have to face embarrassment of divorce and ready to forgive the affair accepting it as a common thing in their social circle. I didn’t like where her story went, I liked movie version better but there are other books in series so I hope things get better for her. I have to say her character shadowed both Rachel and Nick.

Rachel was great throughout the book. She was smart, lovely, kind, patient and developed character. I loved how she went through from shock of finding Nick’s family so rich to surviving bachlorrette party filled with all gorgeous jealous eligible girls wishing Rachel out of Nick’s life, facing Nick’s mother and schemes, and keeping her head high when Nick’s mother revealed things she found through investigator. Her character was so realistic and relatable and for her sake I resented Nick for hiding so many things about his family and origin from her.

Nick was lovely and I enjoyed reading more about him, how amazing friend, son, and boyfriend he was but I still feel I don’t know him that much. He was kind, humble, smart but I think he didn’t understand the gravity of him being super rich and how that might affect Rachel and their relationship. I agree with reason author gave why he was like that but it still didn’t feel enough. I get that it might be in his nature for not caring about money but even with all warnings from Astrid and his best friend, he still couldn’t get how hard it might get for Rachel to go through China’s biggest wedding with people who were ready to crush her to take her place. But I loved him for taking care of Rachel, standing up against his mother and grandma, giving her space when she needed and the way he helped her at the end.

There were many characters that didn’t like. Eleanor- Nick’s mother, Edison Cheng – Nick’s cousin, and Amanda- Nick’s pursuer (I don’t know what else to say!) were on the top of the list. They were snobbiest, most materialistic people of all. I loved most of Chengs and Leongs. Some characters added more drama while the other were hilarious and made story more entertaining.

As much as I hate Michael for what he did to Astrid, his, Rachel and Kerry’s (rachel’s mother) characrer showed what it’s like to be among crzy rich circle being poor or middle class person and how hard it was for them to make impression and no matter what they did it never was enough for people like Youngs and other old money crazy rich asians.

Best part of the book was footnotes explaining East Asian words, which language it was and what it meant along with more details on traditions, culture and other things like social class and political things. It was first time I read a book that was more focused on culture and gave so many details on it. Social class difference and differences between families with generations old money and new money, their life style and perceptions were well written. It might look exaggerated as this was crazy rich families we were reading about but at the same time it all felt so very realistic. All the details on dresses, brands, famous rich people, places, food, art, and jewelry, the way people spent money and lived was dazzling to read. It was easy to be blinded by it all as a normal person.

I wouldn’t say this was a romance. There was romance but it wasn’t main or major part of the story which was surprise for me as I went into book expecting it romance focus. Rachel and Nick’s romance was developed. Through past chapters and their conversations we see how they met, how they fell in love but in the present, it was developed so we don’t see it developing. Here we see obstacles their relationship faces on meeting family. Marraige wasn’t first thing in their mind in the beginning of the story but as story developed we see how they both wished for it and it was great to see how facing problems, meeting the family, with each obstacle their love got stronger. I would love to see where their story was going as it isn’t happily ever after yet.

I expected and saw twist and turns coming and yet some managed to surprise me specially what was revealed at climax by Nick’s mother. Her ambush was shocking and I have to say I wasn’t expecting her to go through this much trouble and what she revealed and how that affected Rachel broke my heart. I enjoyed reading story of Rachel’s mother and how the story ended. It wasn’t cliff hanger but after what was revealed about Rachel and what happened to all other characters in this, I’m super curious to read what happens next.

Why 4 stars-

Like I said there was less romance than I expected. I also wasn’t expecting much focus on side characters. I feel they shadowed both Rachel and Nick. It had its own charm but I think I had different expectations.

Overall, Crazy Rich Asians was entertaining, fun, dramatic, steady paced fiction with amazing characters and fantastic details on East Asian culture and tradition.

I recommend this of you like,
Diversity
East Asian culture and tradition
gossips
Multiple perspectives with as much focus on side characters as main characters
Social class diffenrece
prejudice
less romance more drama
exaggerated but realistic characters and crazy rich life style
More character focus than plot focus

Book Links

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Thank you for reading! Let’s chat…

What do you think about the book and review? Have you read this or any book by the same author? Which is your favorite book on East Asian culture?

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Hi, I'm Yesha, an Indian book blogger. Avid and eclectic reader who loves to read with a cup of tea. Not born reader but I don't think I’m going to stop reading books in this life. “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”

22 Comments

  • WendyW

    Nice review Yesha. I haven’t read the book or seen the movie. Now, I’ll be sure to read the book before I watch the movie.

  • Eustacia | Eustea Reads

    Astrid was my favourite character in this book!! Although I have to admit that I wasn’t too crazy about the fact that even when we have books set in Singapore… we still need someone from America as the protagonist/love interest. What’s wrong with having a Singaporean girl starring in a Singaporean book? (Anyone who’s not rich would have the same reactions, I think)

  • Teri Polen

    Like Tessa, I watched the movie, but didn’t read the book. My hubby is a big fan of both, although he couldn’t get into the second book. Great review, Yesha!

    • Books Teacup and Reviews

      Thank you, Teri! I can see why your husband is fan of books but tbh I didn’t like the movie as much s I expected. Books are much better.

      I just finished second book. there was even more focus on other character than it was in first book. But it wasn’t bad except author has a little overdone with all crazy rich spending with so many name droppings of brand and famous people or food. At this point I don’t even try to read them in sentence. My overall feel for second book is the same as first book.

      I recommend to continue if you have read first book and remotely liked it. You just need to be little patient and keep in mind it’s not usual contemporary or fiction we read that focus on main characters.

  • Carla

    I have not seen the movie, nor read the book, but I am now interested. I never really thought this was a book I would be interested in, but you have definitely piqued that interest now, Yesha. Fantastic review.

    • Books Teacup and Reviews

      Thank you, Carla! It’s not usual story we see in fiction or contemporary. It’s on whole other level with so many characters and their individual story and how they all fit in plot. I highly recommend this if you are up for Crazy rich asian lifestyle and culture with so many details on food, couture dresses and places and of course crazy rich drama.

  • Susy's Cozy World

    Congratulations on the review, it is really interesting and you cover a lot of points! I had this book on my radar since they published it but I have yet to read it. I am waiting for the right mood to hit me, because even if I am interested the drama part is not a favorite of mine so… Here I am.
    But what you wrote about the footnotes is really intriguing, it is always good to learn something, even when we are reading fiction. And the fact that we have so many interesting characters but they don’t get too confusing is pretty good (even if it is not so good that they shadow the main ones!). Thanks for sharing!!

    • Books Teacup and Reviews

      Thank you, Susy! It was tough to write this review as it was unusual story that didn’t exactly revolved around main characters and romance like we see in most books and with so many characters and so many details on all other things related to East Asian culture and super crazy rich lifestyle it made it more hard to write review. I assure you drama was not exactly overdone, it was in fact all the details on everything that you might find a bit exaggerated and yet it felt so fitting to storyline. Characters were most interesting. Just dive into this when you are up for relaxed and steady pace story.

  • Lady Tessa

    I saw the movie but I never read the book. It sounds like the movie keeps the main aspects of the book intact, but I only remember the big points. This has been on my TBR for ages and it sounds like it is definitely worth the read. Excellent review!

    • Books Teacup and Reviews

      I agree movie has focused more on romance and Rachel while book has much more details on everything. movie looks too simple in comparison. I highly recommend book over movie. And i loved characters in book more. I imagined characters much different than movie cast.

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