Review of “Rich People Problems” (Crazy Rich Asians #3) by Kevin Kwan

Kwan, Kevin. Rich People Problems. New York: Doubleday, 2017. 

Hardcover | $27.95 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0385542234 | 398 pages | Multicultural/Contemporary

4.5 stars

Rich People Problems is my favorite of the “Crazy Rich Asians” trilogy, because of the depth and growth to this fun cast of characters. Like the previous installments, it is as funny and catty as ever between the various people in this elite club of the crazy rich, but along with that, I loved seeing the nuances to them.

One of my favorite characters is, surprisingly, Shang Su Yi, Nicholas’s grandmother. The drama surrounding her last days among the living and the revelations it brings led me to see her and her relationships with different family members in a completely new light, especially concerning the cold way she acted toward Rachel in the first book. In her youth, she was passionate and brave, but did not have the same opportunities concerning her love life that Nick and Rachel, and some of the other characters did, making her story somewhat cliche, but bittersweet all the same.

In relation to that, I loved being on the journey with Nick, first to repair the breach between himself and Su Yi, and later to preserve the legacy of Tyersall Park, even against tremendous odds. It was beautiful to see him persevere in this, due first to his own personal connection to the place, and later, the discovery of Tyersall Park’s deeper historical relevance to the public.

I was, of course, finally satisfied to see things work out for Astrid and Charlie, although the road was not without domestic disputes. I love the way their arc built up the trajectory of them being faced with both of their revenge-seeking exes. And the way the arcs concluded for other recurring major characters, like Edddie Cheng and Kitty Pong-Tai-Bing had me oddly satisfied, given the ambivalent feelings occasionally verging on annoyance I felt throughout reading the book.

This whole series is a treat to read, and I would recommend it to fans of domestic dramas and romantic comedies.

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Review of “China Rich Girlfriend” (Crazy Rich Asians #2) by Kevin Kwan

Kwan, Kevin. China Rich Girlfriend. New York: Doubleday, 2015. 

Hardcover | $26.95 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0385539081 | 378 pages | Contemporary Fiction

4 stars

China Rich Girlfriend is a nice follow-up book. While not as fun as the first, it still has its charms. With all the major characters more or less paired off and married, it definitely felt more like a domestic drama than straddling that line between rom-com and domestic drama that the first one did.

This is both good and bad. I really liked how the shift presented opportunities to look more introspectively at the existing relationships between characters, like the disintegrating-but-still-trying-to-stay-afloat marriage between Astrid and Michael, complicated by her lingering feelings for Charlie, and Kitty Pong (now Katherine Tai) being ingratiated into society.

I also liked that Rachel’s desire to find her father connected her with some new characters who are just as rich and influential, if not more, and just as dysfunctional as Nick’s extended family…once again, if not more. However, aside from Rachel’s involvement with the Bao family and serving as a good influence on young Carlton in particular, I did not find Rachel and Nick as interesting as characters, given that they settle into newlywed bliss pretty early on in the book.

However, it is still a fun book, rife with references and cultural inside jokes, that made for an entertaining read for the most part. I would recommend it to those who are interested in continuing with the Crazy Rich Asians world, and to fans of comedic family dramas.

Review of “Crazy Rich Asians” (Crazy Rich Asians #1) by Kevin Kwan

Kwan, Kevin. Crazy Rich Asians. New York: Doubleday, 2013. 

Hardcover | $25.95 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0385536974 | 403 pages | Fiction/Romance

4 stars

I admit I’m one of probably many people who picked up Crazy Rich Asians in light of the recent successful movie, which I loved and actually saw before reading the book, due to issues with library hold queues. But while it is often said that “the book is always better than the movie,” I can firmly say that that’s not necessarily the case here. Rather, the book is a deeper story which, while containing the romance and humor captured in the movie, was so much more in terms of the development of the families and their society.

Sometimes there is a lot to take in, with the multitude of characters, some of whom are not even featured on the “simplified” (yet still confusing to read and figure out) Young, Tsien, and Shang family tree, due to them being friends, relatives by marriage, or both. Not to mention the frequent references to Singaporean life and language (Singlish), requiring extensive footnotes, which, while enhancing the story’s context, did grow tiresome after a while.

But as a whole, the story was enjoyable, and I love how it explored a series of comparisons and contrasts between the Haves and the Have-Nots, and the values held by the Chinese born and raised in Asia and the American Born Chinese (ABC). I found it fascinating how often these economic disparities played a role in the characters’ lives, how they paralleled one another, and where they diverged, from the main relationship between Nick and Rachel, to Astrid and Michael’s troubled marriage, to the revelations and allusions made about the relationships concerning both Nick and Rachel’s mothers with their respective partners.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and cannot wait to read the sequels. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in literature about contemporary Asian characters, or to those who want to experience a new take on the domestic drama.