Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (BOOK REVIEW) 4/5
Sometimes a book is made as much by the characters you hate as the characters you love- and I found a lot of characters to hate in Crazy Rich Asians. Eddie Cheng takes the top spot, of course. But following him are many characters- Shang Su-Yi, Eleanor Young, Michael Teo, Amanda Ling, Francesca Shaw. Truly despicable people, but their sections are sections you love to hate. I wanted to shake this book and throw it out the window at the horrid nature of these crazy rich Asians, and their awful acts are among the most memorable pieces of this book. The one that shocked me the most was Ah Ma, Shang Su-Yi. She really doesn’t know her grandson like she thinks she does.
Then there are characters you don’t exactly hate but that are quirky to watch along the way: Like Kitty Pong and Bernard Tai, two laughable characters that always are enjoyable to dance across the page. They haven’t begun to annoy me too much… yet.
Finally, you have characters you love. Nick Young, Rachel Chu, Peik Lin, Oliver T’sien. These characters are the ones you keep reading for. The ones you desperately want to come out on top. I melted over Nick’s clear love for Rachel, his nonchalant denial of his family’s haughty platitudes. Rachel’s personality as the main heroine is refreshing, and what she goes through is heart wrenching at times. I loved following her confusion as Nick’s family’s true wealth unfolded, followed by the weight of what she would be getting into for the man she loved. Peik Lin might have fit the role of comic relief, but she was so much more than that: She was the truest best friend I’ve read in a novel in awhile. She was the hype woman, the one who drags her friend into her home and makes her part of the family. She was the one I was rooting for, and possibly my favorite character in the whole book. Meanwhile, Oliver… Well, he’s kind of a neutral character at the moment, but I love his hand in things, and how fast he warmed to Rachel.
This book has a unique style of head hopping, no fixed perspective as it bounces from character to character with whoever is needed most. This is a style that is rare to encounter, difficult to pull off, and I honestly found it refreshing. It kept things moving, and it really continually comes back to the strength of the varied characters found within the book. However… Perhaps, at times, the varied characters become a bit too much. If I have one complaint about this novel, it’s the constant name dropping and listing of important people, designers, and businesses. While it’s fitting for the novel, it became a little bit exhausting, and made the story begin to drag. This is one of those books that I feel could have ended with about fifty pages of unnecessary filler edited out. I loved the book and all its concepts of the elite rich in Asia, don’t get me wrong, but there were a good handful of points where I simply grew bored. I wanted to put it down, and read something else. The characters saved my reading experience- as well as a rich dose of culture, as one of the other staples of this book is how authentic it is. I loved the bits of the language, the notes included about things that were mentioned, which drag you into this new world of Asia’s richest people. I am also forever thankful that this book started with a family tree- which I referenced constantly throughout my read.
Overall, Crazy Rich Asians was a solid read. It was even a great read. I enjoyed it dearly, but I do think it holds itself back at times. I had some struggles through it, but by the end, I wanted to keep reading- I want to read on, to China Rich Girlfriend, and continue following Rachel and Nick’s journey, and that is the goal of any good book.