Friday, October 4, 2013
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
Although I'm definitely not going to recommend it if you want to learn about Singapore. After all, this was a Singapore that even I didn't recognise.
And before you say "oh no, it's because this is the Singapore for the rich", I should let you know that I grew up in two of the schools mentioned - MGS and ACS. If we are so full of over-the-top rich kids, I would have realised. We have facebook in this time and age after all. But honestly, we're all middle/upper-middle class. Not a bunch of spoilt, rich brats.
Crazy Rich Asians is about Rachel Chu (an American Born Chinese) as she follows her boyfriend Nicholas Young back to Singapore for the first time. This 'normal' girl (who somehow has very rich friends - seriously, even her friend who isn't in the 'inner circle' of the Singapore rich is still filthy rich) is obviously shocked, the high society of Singapore doesn't approve of her, and blah blah blah. It's a classic Chinese story (boy meets girl, boy brings back (the unsuitable girl), family and friends wage a campaign to break them up)
And I, well, I enjoyed the story, but probably for the wrong reasons. For some reason, I didn't really like Rachel Chu. I felt that rather than being a real character, she was just this conduit to showcase how the super-rich in Singapore lives. So the whole 'real-girl' thing felt a bit fake to me - she claimed to hate money, but she reconciled with her boyfriend because he spent a ton on an (admittedly) touching gesture. Which is why, I felt quite some glee whenever she felt out of place.
Plus, her drama distracts from the guilty-indulgence sort of gossipy read about high society. On the other hand, Astrid, Nicholas' cousin was my favourite character. She was funny, and although insanely rich, had her head on the right way. I was behind her every step of the way - in fact, if the book was just about her and her drama, I'd be even happier.
In short, if you'd like to read a gossipy story about high society intrigue, I'd recommend this book. But if you want to get to know Singapore, hmm... try Tais Toi or anything by Neil Humphrey. I'm really hoping that there's a sequel that focuses on Astrid though, that would be a fun read.