When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn’t know is that Nick’s family home happens to look like a palace, that she’ll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia’s most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back. Initiated into a world of dynastic splendor beyond imagination, Rachel meets Astrid, the It Girl of Singapore society; Eddie, whose family practically lives in the pages of the Hong Kong socialite magazines; and Eleanor, Nick’s formidable mother, a woman who has very strong feelings about who her son should–and should not–marry. Uproarious, addictive, and filled with jaw-dropping opulence, Crazy Rich Asians is an insider’s look at the Asian JetSet; a perfect depiction of the clash between old money and new money; between Overseas Chinese and Mainland Chinese; and a fabulous novel about what it means to be young, in love, and gloriously, crazilyrich.
My mum frequently compares TV show episodes to potato chips. You can’t just consume one, she says. And the chapters of this book are like potato chips. Are they going to make you a better, healthier person? Heck no. Are they delicious, wonderful, impossible to give up, and somehow you still don’t regret anything? Yes. 100% yes.
Crazy Rich Asians is the most fun I’ve had with a book in a long time. It’s pure escapism. Characters drop tens of thousands of dollars on dresses, jet around to different continents like they’re walking next door, and have their every day breakfast prepared by Michelin-starred chefs. I can enjoy all that without leaving the comfort of my bed and the Cheetos piled on my cleavage because I was too lazy to go to the kitchen to get a plate.
But that’s why this book is so great! It’s over the top and ridiculous, but in a way that is fully aware of that and invites you to be over the top and ridiculous as well. Most of the POV characters, such as Rachel and Astrid, are fully aware of how insane the world of the story is, and the contrast works nicely.
The sense of place is also insanely strong. This is a book for the senses, whether it’s seeing the lavish settings in your mind’s eye, feeling the weight of crazily overpriced fabrics on your skin, or the taste of perfectly cooked food in your mouth. (Seriously, this book made me so hungry. I need to go eat dumplings now.)
At the end of the day, though, the beauty of the book is its shameless invitation to you to enter its world of excessive luxury. Forget the dumpster fire that is the real world, and sink into this almost surrealist one where being seen in head-to-toe Prada is the worst thing that could happen to somebody. (Ugh, new money, right?) This is a potato chip book at its finest and, if you’ll excuse me, I need to find another bag.