Monday, September 8, 2014

Disappointments: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

544 pages, published January 1, 2013 by Anchor

"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.

Description via Goodreads.

From the description here to the gorgeous paperback cover to the blurb that described Crazy Rich Asians as a "Pride and Prejudice-like send-up" I couldn't wait to dive in. But soon enough, I really, really wished I could dive back out. Here's what I found most insufferable about Crazy Rich Asians:

  • Lack of character development - The story is about Rachel and Nick's ups and downs on their vacation, but it's also about Nick's relatives and friends, and other members of the elite Singaporean circle with which the Young family runs. Some of these stories were actually interesting. At times I thought, Hey, I'd read a book about Nick's cousin Astrid and her husband! or whatever else struck me as fascinating But we were never given quite enough of these other characters' stories to make them stick. The minor characters are sickeningly snobbish and nasty and the major characters, even Nick and Rachel, aren't developed, leaving the storylines to fall very, very flat.
  • Label dropping - I don't mind reading about rich people, I really don't. But Crazy Rich Asians was so label-heavy that at times it felt like I was reading a very long catalog. Chanel this, Dior that, yadda yadda yadda. It was exhausting. It is possible to describe a wealthy person or an opulent home without 20 paragraphs about designers and extravagant adjectives, but I even started to forget that while reading this book. (ex. "
  • Awkward dialogue/bad writing in general - I mostly listened to the audiobook of Crazy Rich Asians, but read the physical book here and there. I will credit the audiobook narrator for making this much more palatable in audio form. Example: -- "Yes, I thought you were dead set against coming to the wedding," Nick said. -- "Well, I changed my mind at the last minute. Especially since Zvi has this fabulous new plane that can zip around so quickly--our flight from New York only took fifteen hours!" Cringe
  • The end story about Rachel's parents - *SPOILERS* What could have been a storyline throughout the book was thrown in at the very end for absolutely no reason. In a fit of bitchiness, Nick's mother reveals what her private investigator has learned about Rachel: her father, long thought dead, is actually alive. This information results in a confrontation with Rachel's mother who shares a very long, strange story about who Rachel's father really is. This is literally within the last 15 pages of the book, adding nothing to a story which had hardly mentioned Rachel's father at all. Once again, this could have been an interesting story; I might have even read a book about this! But the cheap twist was added at the end in an attempt to add some depth to a book that was incredibly shallow.
Rating: 1.5/5
Sigh. I actually feel better having written this down, but count me out of reading Kevin Kwan's sequel, China Rich Girlfriend, which comes out next year. 

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