Even more polarising than the first?
I think it’s a sign, when you can’t be bothered to blog about something and you literally have to force yourself to do it, 2 months after the fact. Yeah, I’m talking about my review of the second book in the ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ trilogy- ‘China Rich Girlfriend’ by Kevin Kwan.
From what I’ve read online, all the reviews have been glowing and the second book has received critical acclaim- some even saying that it’s even better than the first book!? What the? Have they even read the second book?
You see, the first book was revolutionary! A book which depicted Asians as something cool, something non-Asians could be envious of. The story was of romance, there was intrigue like how would Rachel respond when she finds out that Nick is from a filthy rich family? And the story-line was universal enough, that a global audience were able to embrace the characters and the storyline. But on the other hand, China Rich Girlfriend is fragmented, the story doesn’t really go anywhere, and introducing the China rich into the mix – I don’t think it has much global appeal? All I know is that the China rich are buying up our land and resources, pushing up property prices around the world – which has made it hard for average you and I to afford a place anymore, and seeing these excesses play out – I didn’t develop any emotional attachment to those characters.
In a nutshell, China Rich Girlfriend picks up the Crazy Rich Asian story 2 years down the track. The book follows 3 main plots- Rachel and her discovery of her father and paternal family; Astrid Teo, Nick’s fashionable cousin and the deterioration of her marriage to Michael Teo; and the mostly pointless story of Kitty Tai (aka Kitty Pong), and her exploits while she attempts to be accepted into Hong Kong’s elite.
My largest criticism of the book is that just when one of the three stories gain momentum, the novel cuts over to one of the other two narratives, thus it always seems to be choppy and the book just doesn’t flow all that much. And the annoying thing is that the three stories by-in-large are stand-alone tales, thus the constant cutting back and forth between the stories isn’t necessary. But the stories do finally cross over at the very end, which sets up for the one and only interesting twist in the book. And the second annoyance I had with the book is some factual inconsistencies from the first book to the second? I know that it is just a minor aspect, but oddly it really, like really annoyed me! In the first book we were led to believe that Kerry Chu (Rachel’s mum) fled to America and on her own raised Rachel to adulthood. But in the second book, we’re introduced to a large extended family from Kerry’s side, which was contrary to our perception of them as a mother-daughter duo who only had each other to rely on. And I don’t understand why Kevin introduced Rachel’s extended family, as with their presence it didn’t add to the story, but it only placed into question the factual inconsistencies between the books.
In the end, the book didn’t draw us in, Nick and his rich-ass family were relegated to minor characters in the book; the introduction of new characters Carlton Bao and Colette Bing were annoying characters who were given too much air time; and Kitty Pong, a minor character, from the first book, was given a lead role – which was probably the most boring of the 3 sub-plots.
In my opinion China Rich Girlfriend is an easy miss! Don’t tarnish your positive memories of ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ by reading book 2! The silly thing is that we purchased books 2 and 3 immediately after we finished book 1 – so because we’ve already spent the money on it, I feel obligated to read/listen to the final book of the trilogy. I wonder if it gets worse. Or can Kevin Kwan turn this Asian let-down around?