Book: China Rich Girlfriend

"China Rich Girlfriend"

On the even of her wedding to Nicholas Young, Rachel Chu should be over the moon. Her fiance is willing to defy his mother and sacrifice his entire inheritance–one of the greatest fortunes in Asia–in order to marry her. But Rachel still regrets the fact that her father, 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, his celebrity girlfriend who is chased by fevered paparazzi; and the man Rachel has spent her entire life waiting to meet. Meanwhile, Singapore’s It Girl, Astrid Leong, is shocked to discover that there is a downside to having a newly minted tech billionaire husband, and “Mrs. Katherine Tai” (previously known as the soap opera star Kitty Pong) realizes that it will take more than a new name for her to claim her rightful place in society.

An uproarious comedy of manners that takes readers through Asia’s most exclusive clubs, auction houses, and estates, China Rich Girlfriend is filled with the opulence of mainland China–a place where people attend church in a penthouse above the clouds, where private jets are decorated to look like Balinese resorts, where exotic sports cars race along boulevards, and where people aren’t just crazy rich…they’re China rich.

Most people I know who have read this book liked it. Granted, I haven’t seen any one of them discuss the book at length yet. And some might already have blogged about it, but I haven’t had the time to read through them yet–

So I’m still wondering: what did they see in the book that I didn’t?

I thoroughly enjoyed the excesses of Crazy Rich Asians. It wasn’t a perfect book, but the entertainment value far outweighed any misgivings I had about the book. But I cannot say the same for China Rich Girlfriend, which at times felt like it was trying too hard to replicate what the first book had–and then topping it in the crazy scales.

That said, I do know one part of the book that I really didn’t enjoy: the C-plot with Kitty Pong’s transformation into Mrs. Katherine Tai and what happened to her husband and kid. I know it was supposed to show a new aspect of being Asian Rich, and the idea of there being people rich enough to think they can erase their past. But throughout the book, this plot utterly bored me. I couldn’t understand why the least engaging character of Crazy Rich Asians deserved a plot line of her own in the sequel.

And then there’s the B-plot with Astrid which I expected to like because I kinda wanted to see how her life was going to unfold… And then I realized that she already had a good ending in the first book. In the sequel, it sometimes felt like her life’s just being meddled with just so we could have a continuation of her story.

Whenever the focus was on Astrid and her marriage, I kept feeling bad because I like the characters but I didn’t like where their story went. And I know it’s supposed to be good writing when you’re moved to feel emotions–but as her life unraveled, all I felt was horror.

The only thing I liked about China Rich Girlfriend is the continuation of Rachel Chu’s love story with Nicholas Young. Which I didn’t think needed to continue when the first book ended. It was a good enough ending as it was. Until we were introduced to Rachel’s father and the crazy family he brings with him.

Had we gotten a book similar to Crazy Rich Asians that focused on just Rachel and Nicholas, with the rest of the characters only getting snippets about their lives–I feel like I would have enjoyed China Rich Girlfriend more. Especially since the sequel really succeeds in topping the insanity of the first book when it comes to describing the opulence of the rich and (trying not to be) famous.  And I know that Rachel and Nicholas are still the main characters of the sequel, with Astrid’s and Kitty’s stories only serving as sub-plots, but I really felt like the subplots subtracted to my enjoyment of the main plot instead of supporting it.

Putting the book down, I did not become a China Rich Girlfriend fan. But I probably will still read another sequel from author Kevin Kwan if he comes out with another one. Unlike with this book through, which I picked up as soon as it came out–only to write about it months later, I’m probably not going to rush to the bookstore for his next book.

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