Book Review: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

I saw the movie adaptation of this book when it first came out and while it was a little outrageous, I loved the casting choices and the hilarious jokes. My only complaint was the ending was a cliched, boring mess, but most of the movie was fun.

Since then, I’m been hoping to find time to read the book. I was surprised to find it’s over 500 pages, which is long for a romantic comedy, and it’s not the type of book I would usually pick up. But my parents did live in Singapore for six months before I was born, and so the tiny country holds a precious place in my heart. So I was excited about the setting. This book, however, turned out to be intolerable.

Release: June, 2013

Synopsis: (from Goodreads) “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

If you are a fan of reading gossip columns and People magazine, this book is for you. Pretty much the majority of the scenes are people sitting around talking about other people behind their backs. It’s one of the most boring, intolerable books I have ever read, which is disappointing considering I enjoyed the movie for the most part. The plot is interesting, but none of the characters are complex and the pacing is so obnoxiously slow I had to work hard to sift through all the dialogue to reach some interesting moment. The only great thing about the book is the Asian setting, and I loved the Chinese phrases inserted and the outrageous view of Singapore, exaggerating traditional Asian society. But because the plot and characters were so petty, even the setting could not save this book.

In the movie, the characters don’t take themselves quite so seriously, making the outrageous themes more tolerable because its comedic. But in the book, the outrageous themes are way too serious, making the rumors and drama feel like an overacted soap opera.

Saying that, I understand there is a demographic for people whowould love this book. If you like soap operas, if you can deal with endless scenes of pointless drama, you’ll love this book. I’ve never liked listening to rumors about who’s dating who in Hollywood or how rich Hollywood is, so this Asian Hollywood didn’t interest me in the least.

In the movie, some of the characters’ concerns are better examined. Nick’s mother Eleanor (played by the amazing Michelle Yeoh) is interesting in the movie, as you can understand her concerns for her son. I liked her in the movie, but in the book she feels petty and cruel. Of course in the movie she was too, but her character had more depth. This seems insane to me, because usually its the opposite when it comes to movies/books. Especially considering how long this book is, and yet it doesn’t feel like I got to know any of the characters as well as I did in the movie.

One of my favorite characters in the movie is Rachel’s close friend Peik Lin (pronounced kind of like ‘pig lin,’ which is an awesome name, by the way). She is over-exaggerated and hilarious in the movie, but in the book she has no depth. She’s not funny. Instead, she’s a typical friend you find in every Hallmark channel movie.

Am I being a bit too cruel on this book? Maybe. There is a reason I avoid reading most romantic comedy books, because I know I won’t like them. But because of the setting, and my enjoyment of the movie, I thought I would enjoy it. I did not.

Have you read this book? Or watched your movie? Let me know your thoughts on either down in the comments, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,

Best wishes in your life full of adventure,

Madame Writer

11 thoughts on “Book Review: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

  1. This book is definitely not for me because of the reasons you mentioned, including soap opera and “funny romance”. I would want something subtler and more meaningful. However, I never before read a book set in Singapore, so I am with you that this may be the only reason to pick it up.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I read some comments, and people look at it from different perspectives. Some people say it’s enjoyable as a comedy, some say it’s clieched, and some say there is stereotype in it. Many different comments. But the only way to see whether I like a movie or not is to check it out myself!😄

        Liked by 1 person

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