Crazy Rich Asians Trilogy, Kevin Kwan
If there were ever a case of the book being far better than the movie adaptation it is found here, in Crazy Rich Asians.
Heralded as the beach read trilogy that should be in everyone's travel bags, Crazy Rich Asians, China Rich Girlfriend, and Rich People Problems, shouldn't be missed for reasons far beyond it's new found Hollywood fame.
For those of you who watched the disappointing movie adaptation, despite it's marvelous cast list, and turned your noses up at the books in response I would advice you reconsider your reading lists.
Entering into a world of Singaporean riches many of us know nothing about Kevin Kwan uses a fictional lens to introduce us to a very real, very expensive, world that is, without a doubt, fascinating.
From complex relationships with religion, family, business and social lives to the extraordinary shopping, homes and educations, many parts of these novels draw on the realities of the lives of the ludicrously rich in Singapore and China.
While Kwan educates us on this distant world of luxury, he tempts us in with well devised characters, a twisting plot, and fantastical adventures.
Starting out with Crazy Rich Asians Kwan provides his readers with solid ground in main character New Yorker Rachel Chu, who agrees to a trip to Singapore with her boyfriend Nicholas Young. Through Rachel Chu, we are able to ponder the majesty of the world into which she is dropped, ask the questions we are all thinking and, thankfully, react to the outrageous notions of some of the super rich, in terms of their behavior and ambitions.
Through the use of a switching main voice throughout the book Kwan provides us a well rounded view of this socially elite circle, drawing us back to Rachel Chu to reground us with the understanding of an ordinary, non-billionaire, level of thinking whenever things are getting a little too outlandish to comprehend.
While the movie watchers may feel they know the story a proper read of the book will soon inform how wrong they are. Were the movie felt an inexplicable need to make the expenditures of these characters even more outlandish the books drip with realism, the shocking uses of money easy to understand and believe, despite the mind boggoling zeros which come with them. The characters complexity, which failed to show through in the movies, is laid out for all to see, each ones motives thoroughly explored. Where the movie wished to dazzle and shock us with shiny gems and ridiculous acts the books astound and startle in a very realistic way.
By the time we move onto China Rich Girlfriend not only are we completely hooked in the story, and the luxury of this world, but also on the characters. Rachel Chu's best friend, and her family, swiftly becoming a fan favorites with their down to earth personalities and hilarious actions, while previously minor characters take a step into the spotlight to great enjoyment.
China Rich Girlfriend delves deeper into hidden secretes of Rachel Chu's life, a considerable time jump between this and the first book allowing for a growth in the characters which adds to their standing in the books and creates a stronger landscape for the novel to play as it explores a wider, ever more complex, world. As Rachel Chu sets off to Shanghai we are gifted not only with a new understanding of China Rich, but also a new understanding of each characters unique position in this universe.
While Rachel's story fattens out, in Singapore, our other characters lives are also reaching new points of complexity, some darker than others, all desperately intriguing and convoluted.
By the final entry, Rich People Problems, many of our characters stories feel as if they have played out, providing Kwan with the space not only to tie off loose ends, but also to bring those lesser characters, the ones who have been capturing our interest throughout the books, to the forefront. Containing some of the most shocking revelations, the greatest amount of globe hopping travel and possibly the biggest twists, Rich People Problems steps away from Rachel Chu almost entirely. As Kwan entrusts that we no longer need her grounding, humble, presence to find our footing in the world of big money he seems let loose to explore the history of Singapore in greater depths, the expenses of homes and the true audacity of rich living.
When Kwan finally brings the series to it's conclusion it is with every knot in the story neatly tied, every character accounted for and, surprisingly, with a great deal of sense having been gained by those who have otherwise been lofty characters throughout.
Incredibly enjoyable, somewhat humorous, and absolutely eye opening, the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy is well worth a read.
We give the Crazy Rich Asian Trilogy three stars.
Crazy Rich Asians ISBN - 9781782393320
Cover Price - £7.99
China Rich Girlfriend
ISBN - 9781760290788 Cover Price - £7.99
Rich People Problems
ISBN - 9780525432371 Cover Price - £7.99