Book Review: China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan

22674105On the eve of her wedding to Nicholas Young, heir to one of the greatest fortunes in Asia, Rachel should be over the moon. She has a flawless Asscher-cut diamond from JAR, a wedding dress she loves more than anything found in the salons of Paris, and a fiance willing to sacrifice his entire inheritance in order to marry her. But Rachel still mourns the fact that her birthfather, a man she never knew, won’t be able to walk her down the aisle. Until: a shocking revelation draws Rachel into a world of Shanghai splendor beyond anything she has ever imagined. Here we meet Carlton, a Ferrari-crashing bad boy known for Prince Harry-like antics; Colette, a celebrity girlfriend chased by fevered paparazzi; and the man Rachel has spent her entire life waiting to meet: her father. Meanwhile, Singapore’s It Girl, Astrid Leong, is shocked to discover that there is a downside to having a newly minted tech billionaire husband. A romp through Asia’s most exclusive clubs, auction houses, and estates, China Rich Girlfriendbrings us into the elite circles of Mainland China, introducing a captivating cast of characters, and offering an inside glimpse at what it’s like to be gloriously, crazily, China-rich.

I really loved Crazy Rich Asians. Like, love loved. But China Rich Girlfriend was like a sequel to a Hollywood movie meant to be a stand-alone. It was too similar to the first book. Rachel Chu finds out that she’s connected to Asian wealth in a way she didn’t expect! Brand names are mentioned! Crazy expensive trips to other places are casually gone on! The parade of excess wasn’t as entertaining as the first time around, which I mostly attribute to the novelty having worn off.

Another weak spot was the plot. The first book had a clear plot. It was a fish-out-of water story with everything leading up to Nick’s friends wedding, when we knew shit was going to go down. Kwan tries to do fish-out-of-water again here, but the fact is that Rachel has been through this already, only this time there’s no clear sense of where we’re going.

However, I adored the subplot with Kitty Pong. It was exploring the same world and same ideas – how rich people behave in mainland China versus how rich people behave in Singapore – but the different point of view made all the difference. Rachel Chu is very everywoman. She’d be a great person to actually know, but she’s not the most entertaining character. Kitty Pong, on the other hand, is such a crazy insane character with (to me) the most ridiculous priorities. (Sorry, Kitty Pong.) Her attempt at writing her own Cinderella story was a riot, and I wish it had been the main focus of a companion novel instead of a small part of a sequel.

It’s also nice to get a bit of closure to some of the plot threads from Crazy Rich Asians, like Rachel and Nick’s wedding and Nick’s mother’s feelings towards Rachel. I just feel like those would have made more sense to be happening in the first novel so we can have my Kitty Pong spinoff book.

If you liked Crazy Rich Asians, China Rich Girlfriend will probably be entertaining enough, even if it does retread a lot of the same ground as the first book (although that may be a positive or a negative, depending on who you are).

Verdict: it’s up to you

Have you read China Rich Girlfriend? What did you think? Do you have any general guidelines for what makes a good sequel? Do you tend to prefer sequels or spinoffs?

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One thought on “Book Review: China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan

  1. Pingback: July Wrap-Up | Death By A Thousand Paper Cuts

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