Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Because of my seeming mental block on writing reviews, I’m playing around with a new format. We’ll see how it goes!

Who (wrote it)?: Kevin Kwan appears to have a fair bit in common with some of his characters. Born and raised in Singapore where he attended a prestigious school. The descendent of a prominent, fabulously wealthy Chinese family. Lived, attended college, and worked in the United States.

What (is it)?: Crazy Rich Asians is a fish-out-of-water story about a normal, American girl, Rachel Chu, who agrees to spend the summer with her boyfriend Nick in Singapore. Rachel expects a fun summer of romance and travels with her boyfriend and maybe to learn a little bit about his past. Instead, she’s thrown head-first into the fabulously glamorous and equally treacherous world of Singapore high society. If pressed to assign a genre, I would probably argue that this is a lot like what people call Chick Lit (which is obviously the worst term). There are a bunch of fabulous parties, opulent settings, and the designer name-dropping does not quit. There’s also a heavy element of satire as Kwan takes aim at the snobbery and hypocrisy of the super-wealthy.

When (are we)?: Published in 2013, the book seems to be roughly contemporary. It’s definitely a post-recession world, but that doesn’t seem to touch these folks.

Where (are we)?: I think the setting was probably what I liked most about this book. I know fairly little about Singapore, and for as fluffy as this book often is, it does draw a fascinating portrait of the ways that class, race, and modernity shape this country. I

Why (read it)?: Why read it? Well, I read it to satisfy the “Read a book by an author from Southeast Asia” task of the Book Riot Challenge. If you’re looking for a book that task, this might be a good one! I could see this being a pretty enjoyable vacation or beach read. It’s fluffy and fun with a teensy, tiny bit of substance.

How (did I like it)Honestly? Meh. I ended up giving it 3/5 because it was fun and fairly readable, but the characters were so poorly drawn, and in some cases, so surpassingly stupid that it just threw me off.

 

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