Content and Trigger Warnings: racial slurs, homophobia slurs, talk of cheating, prejudice/classism, swearing.
Have you heard of the Crazy Rich Asians? Surely you’ve seen the movie or at least KNOW that there is a movie! This is a review of the CRA Trilogy as a whole, and there is a lot to talk about.
If you want to read a soap opera, here’s your chance! If you’re way into designer labels and looking down your nose at those who live life a little differently than you or have less money than you, this is the PERFECT series for you to get into.
So, let’s break it down. The first book centers around Rachel Chu and in a weird twist of events, she’s actually in love with a millionaire. Wish we could all relate, honestly. I expected the next two books to also continue to follow Rachel, and while the second one has a lot of her and Nicky, the third book is definitely centered more on our Singaporean characters. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing! I just missed Rachel’s level headedness in the later books.
These books really do have everything a modern soap drama has. There’s so much bling it’ll blind you. 98% of the characters you’ll meet are shallow and they’re always looking for revenge. If you need to learn how to hold a grudge, you get a crash course every few chapters. Attempted murder? Check. Long lost siblings? Check. Weird ‘I’m now your step-mom’ thing? Check. Cheating? Check. Spending WAY too much money? Check. Oh, and there’s lies, lies, lies out the wazoo.
I’ll admit it. I love them. I love how realistic Rachel is. Poor girl is overwhelmed but still has the sense to say “y’all nuts.” I love that Nicky is willing to do anything for Rachel. I mean, how romantic is that!? And I’m a sucker for cheesy romance. I love how wild Kitty Pong is, no matter which book. I love Astrid. She’s had her fair share of trauma and the girl is still starting charities, raising her son, and finding true love. Queen.
We should talk about some of the content though. The racism that’s mentioned in the CW are mostly slurs against mainland Chinese people and white people by the uber-rich Singaporean characters. As a person who has never been able to travel to any part of Asia, I had never heard of any of them before. It adds a layer of snobby-ness to the book that would have been remiss without. That’s the idea of the uber-elite, right? They’ll look down on you and call you names because you’re not like them. It makes you dislike some of the characters more, which adds to your satisfaction when they are finally put in their place.
The same is to be said about the homophobic content. It comes from the characters like Eddie Cheng, who is the walking stereotype of machismo. He’s a vile character, and you love to despise him. Between worrying about his money, title, and how he looks on the cover of different magazines, Eddie barely has time to verbally abuse his family and cheat on his wife. But if the idea of reading about a guy like Eddie is putting you off, don’t worry, he’s in it just enough for you to be like “ugh, this guy!” but he’s not overwhelming. Kind of like soy sauce. Just a little and it makes me go back for seconds, too much and I’m ready to throw out the whole dish. Well, Eddie is just enough to keep this book in my hands and make me hope that his wife leaves him (and takes his precious suit collection with her).
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
Why: I breezed through all of these books so quickly. I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for drama and crazy drama (there’s a difference!), so this series had me hooked. There is a certain shock factor with the slurs and swearing, but for the most part, it’s well-placed in the books. What I mean is, it makes sense that this character would be saying this when they do. I recently tried reading a book (I mention it on my Instagram) and it had so much misplaced swearing that I couldn’t even finish it. Personally, the derogatory words were a lot for me. This is partially because I think that you can write well without peppering your book full of ‘f-bombs’, but also because I couldn’t listen to this as an audiobook with my daughter around. And as a stay-at-home-mom, my daughter is always around. At first, the amount of label dropping was a lot, but it became a part of the world that Kevin Kwan had made and it made total sense to me within a few chapters. It was also really refreshing to read about rich people who weren’t white! All of the books are sprinkled with Asian (Korean, Mandarin, Singaporean, etc) words and phrases that add yet another great level. The words are explained in the second and third books in footnotes, something I’m guessing Kwan added in after someone pointed out that many people may not know what the words are.
Ending Thoughts: I enjoyed these books. They were a nice escape into a crazy world full of private jets and scandals. Kevin Kwan has written a couple more books that I’m ready to get my eyes on!
With love and wishing you a blessed day, Storm