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The Fox's Howl

Review: Crazy Rich Asians

First book of 2021, and we can’t get more extravagant than this, I think! After having seen the movie back in 2019 and loving it, I had put this book on my TBR list, because we all know that the book is (almost) always better than the movie, right?

Crazy Rich Asians starts the story off with Rachel Chu, a New Yorker of Chinese background and professor of Economics at NYU, who is invited by her boyfriend Nicky Young (also a professor at NYU) of nearly two years to Singapore for his best friend’s wedding. There, she starts to discover the lavish lifestyle that the elites of the island country have, including her own boyfriend. We also meet a variety of characters and their various complexes surrounding fame, wealth, and family, and all of this leads us to satirically learn a little about just who these crazy rich Asians are.

If I hadn’t seen the movie first, I don’t know if I would have picked this book up as I didn’t really want to read a book where the characters were so consumed by material things. But I’m so glad the movie changed my mind.

Crazy Rich Asians is hilarious, and if you think you got a taste of the ridiculous lifestyle from the movie, the book goes more in-depth with the madness and intricacies revolved around wealth in Asia. We learn more about the specifics about how some families made their money, what’s expected of children from these elite families (like, there are only two schools they should go to), and how an outsider is treated.

There’s been countless books and movies of rich people set in America and Europe, but this is the first that I’ve read set in Southeast Asia. And for someone whose heritage is Indonesian, it was so refreshing to read about people “like me”. Not in the sense of wealth (har har), but in their slang and their taste for good food (which they mention a lot!).

I’ve read a few critics online where people noted that some of the characters were too over the top. For the most part, I disagree. So many characters had personalities that reminded me of people that I’ve interacted with from SE Asia, and that made the book much more enjoyable.

Overall, Crazy Rich Asians is a fun and enjoyable light read that will make you wish you were in Singapore to experience the city. I can’t wait to read the rest of the trilogy!

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