Remember a few years ago when the ridiculously fun Crazy Rich Asians came out? And we all devoured it and laughed and said, well, that was crazy but it was fun, and then forgot about it?
Well, our favorite (and lots of our not-so-favorite) crazy, rich Asians are back in the sequel. China Rich Girlfriend is still the story of Rachel and Nick, and how their marriage has broken apart Nick’s family. But this book is about soooooooo much more. And I don’t necessarily mean that in a good way.
Not only do we revisit every single character from the first book, but we meet lots of new characters here. And we jet from Sinagpore to Hong Kong and China every few pages. And its hard to keep up. And somewhat unpleasant, to boot.
The shocking excess from the first book are still here, and even MORE excessive, if you can believe that. In this book, we meet several of the new class of Chinese billionaires — those with so much money that its honestly unconceivable. But I didn’t enjoy their tales of outlandish spending and waste. This time it was more uncomfortable than laughable.
Nick’s mother, the unbearable Eleanor, finally figures out who Rachel’s father is. And unsurprisingly, he’s one of the richest men in Asia. As Eleanor tries to weasel her way back into Nick and Rachel’s life, we meet Rachel’s new dad, his wife, his playboy son, Carlton, and Carlton’s absurd fashionista, Instagram famous, billionaire girlfriend, Colette.
And I don’t know why this story wasn’t as fun to read as the first one. But reading about someone buying out entire boutiques in Paris, and then refusing to pay for valet parking gets old after a while. This one felt more like assigned reading.
And so, I treated it like homework. Whenever Kwan mentioned something about a specific area of China/Singapore/Hong Kong, I looked it up and learned about it. For instance…the “tiny” black and white bungalows that all of the top families in Singapore live in? They look like this:
Adorable and charming and tiny, right?
And the great lake in Hangzhou where Rachel goes to meet her friend? Stunning.
So, I’m glad that I learned a little bit about some of the background in these books, but I think I’m just tired of the sheer, unapologetic excess. I know Kevin Kwan is still trying to make a statement about the new state of economics in Asia. But I’m just not sure what that statement is.