As always seems to be the case, when one book comes in from being on hold at the library, ALL the books come in from being on hold. This came in at the same time that Check, Please! came in and thankfully one day after Rich People Problems so I was able to read them in order.
Picking up two years after the action of Crazy Rich Asians, we are thrown right back into the high-class glitz and glamour of the Singapore elite only to be shown how quaint they really are when compared to the new rich of China’s booming new age.
I’ve read a few bloggers reviews who weren’t as impressed with this book as they were with the first and third and I partially agree. I say partially, because well, the ending sucked. Up until the last 20 pages or so I enjoyed where Kwan had taken us and Rachel’s (and occasionally Nick’s) continued introduction to the exorbitant lifestyle of the mega-rich, but those last 20 pages were too much. I’m not sure if Kwan wanted branch out into thriller/mystery at some point, but it just didn’t work. It honestly felt wedged in and half-assed.
He should stick to great lines and observations about wealth,
“‘It’s like my patients these days—I never know whether the kid in my dental chair is homeless or owns Google,’ Ray said gruffly.” (126)
“‘Sweet Jesus! Nick, come over here right now!’ Rachel said in a panicked voice from across the room.
Nick rushed over to her. ‘Are you okay?’
Rachel stood dead in her tracks at the edge of what appeared to be a lap pool, shaking her head in disbelief. ‘Look—it’s a koi pond.’
‘God, you scared me. For a moment I thought something was wrong,’ Nick said.
‘You don’t think anything’s wrong? THERE’S A FRIGGING KOI POND IN THE MIDDLE OF THIS PLANE, NICK!'” (295)
“‘These people aren’t rich—they’re just Henrys!’ Perrineum scoffed. ‘What are Hernys?’ She gave me a withering look. ‘You’re an economist—don’t you know what HENRY stands for?’ I racked my brains, but I didn’t have a clue. Perrineum finally spat it out: ‘High Earners, Not Rich Yet.'” (316)
“Rachel shook her head in wonder. ‘I just can’t get over it—all these megacities springing up overnight, this nonstop economic book. The economist in me wants to say “This can’t last,” but then I’ll see something that totally blows my mind. The other day in Shanghai, Nick and I were trying to get back to our hotel from Xintiandi. All the taxis had their signs lit up, but we couldn’t figure out why they wouldn’t stop for us. Finally, this Australian girl standing on the corner said to us, ‘Don’t you have the taxi app?’ We were like, The what? Turns out there’s an app you use to bid on taxis. Everyone uses it, and the highest bidder ends up getting the taxi.” (394)
Or even social criticism/observations:
“Your true spiritual affiliations do not concern me—it doesn’t matter to me if you are Taoist, Daoist, Buddhist, or worship Meryl Streep—but it is absolutely essential that you become a regular praying, tithing, communion-taking, hands-in-the-air-waving, Bible-study-fellowship-attending member of this church.” (165)
It’s funny that those last 20 pages with the whodunit vibe could ruin what was an actually interesting and intriguing story. In China Rich Girlfriend we find out who Rachel’s father is, weirdly enough from Nick’s mother in a hilarious scene, and that opens up a new world for Rachel. Honestly, because the first book ended without a proposal (i.e. not like the movie), the title of the book tipped off what I thought would happen. And it did happen, but it had nothing to do with the title of the book, weird how our brains work right?
Recommendation: It’s really sad that the entire book fell apart after taking us to so many new and wonderful places in Singapore and Shanghai, but I really enjoyed the introduction of new characters and locales, on top of revisiting those from the first book. I’m not 100% sure how Kwan is going to wrap everything up in the final book of the series, but he may use the jump forward again to truncate some of the tangential story lines.
Opening Line: “Wait a minute—I’m in first class.”
Closing Line: “‘You’re right, it’s all going to be utterly exquisite,’ Kitty said, gazing out the window as the workmen began rehanging The Palace of Eighteen Perfections on her drawing-room wall.” (Whited out to avoid spoilers; highlight to read.)