Friday, April 22, 2016

China Rich Girlfriend - Kevin Kwan

China Rich Girlfriend
Title: China Rich Girlfriend
Author: Kevin Kwan
Publication Date: 6/16/15
Pages: 378
Genre: Chick Lit / Fiction
How I Found It: I read the first book, Crazy Rich Asians
Date Completed: 3/12/16

Summary: It's several years after the events of Crazy Rich Asians. Nick and Rachel are mostly estranged from his ultra-wealthy family and planning a wedding. Astrid's marriage to Michael is deteriorating again, this time because he seems to have been corrupted by his sudden business success. New on the scene: Rachel's newly discovered half-brother, a Chinese politician's heir apparent, and his flamboyant, fashion-obsessed girlfriend.

What I Thought: I absolutely enjoyed the first installment in this series. It was a light, delightful break from some of the heavier stuff I have been reading lately. I described it as "cotton candy: sugary, unhealthy fluff, but awfully fun to sample." Reflecting now, on the second installment, I find that description fits better than ever. Reading the two so closely together certainly made me feel a bit of that too-much-sugar stomachache.

The dramatic wealth that seemed fun and fascinating in the first book felt flamboyant and over-the-top here. Rather than focusing on the more austere wealth and social conservatism of Nick's family and those similar, Kwan dives into the world of newly acquired Chinese wealth. His rich characters in this book spend for the sake of spending, with no thought of others (a point Rachel makes briefly). It's about being the biggest and the best. They do not understand subtlety or, largely, manners. This tension is highlighted by Kwan creating a character whose sole profession is helping the gaudy rich transition and gain acceptance into the more discrete echelons of society. Not that the families in the first book were perfect; they were snobby and disdainful of both the newly rich and those without money. But, reading this second book, I cannot help but understand that perspective a bit better. I found characters such as Collette, a Chinese heiress and social media fashion icon, to be absolutely insufferable, even in their moments of generosity toward Rachel and Nick. In the end, they have nothing outside of their bank accounts and their narcissism. They're unpleasant to read.

While some of the book recalls the fun of the first installment, it had significantly more over the top situations. Rachel's poisoning and medical crisis really pushed it over the edge for me. Everything in these books is extreme, but come on. I do not enjoy drama for the sake of drama. I like some good drama in my chick lit as much as the next girl, but I want to see it further the characters, their development, and/or their relationships with each other. I felt this book had much less of that than the first one. 

I did so greatly appreciated the shoutout to the Duchess of Cambridge (a.k.a. Kate Middleton). I especially appreciated that the reference comes in the form of one character correcting another as to her actual title. She is not 'Princess Kate,' people!! Any book that references her - and correctly, at that! - gets some points for that.

This is a still a fun read in a lot of ways. I just wish I had spaced it out a bit more from its predecessor. I can only take so much of this style when I'm not ensconced by a pool. For me, this genre practically requires mood reading. This one would have been better had I held out for sunshine and summer indulgence. 

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Unlikely
If You Liked This Try: The Royal We The Selection series / Austenland
Other Books By Kevin Kwan: Crazy Rich Asians

A Reduced Review: Though still fun in a lot of ways, I would have enjoyed this sequel more had I held out to read it until the days of sunshine and summer indulgence. 

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