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Review: China Rich Girlfriend (Crazy Rich Asians #2) by Kevin Kwan

On the eve of her wedding to Nicholas Young, heir to one of the greatest fortunes in Asia, Rachel should be over the moon. She has a flawless Asscher-cut diamond from JAR, a wedding dress she loves more than anything found in the salons of Paris, and a fiance willing to sacrifice his entire inheritance in order to marry her. But Rachel still mourns the fact that her birth 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, a celebrity girlfriend chased by fevered paparazzi; and the man Rachel has spent her entire life waiting to meet: her father. Meanwhile, Singapore’s It Girl, Astrid Leong, is shocked to discover that there is a downside to having a newly minted tech billionaire husband.

A romp through Asia’s most exclusive clubs, auction houses, and estates, China Rich Girlfriend brings us into the elite circles of Mainland China, introducing a captivating cast of characters, and offering an inside glimpse at what it’s like to be gloriously, crazily, China-rich.

Goodreads

What is China Rich Girlfriend about?

The sequel to Crazy Rich Asians, this book tackles Rachel’s search for her father as well as the reconciliation of Nick Young with some of his Singapore family. The beginning of the book is about a dramatic and deadly car accident, which brings Eddie Cheng, Eleanor Young, and the Bao family together. When Eleanor discovers that this prominent and wealthy Chinese family is led by Rachel’s father, she promptly brings this to Nick and Rachel’s attention–at their wedding. Rachel is swept up in the lives of the super wealthy once again when she travels to China to reconnect with her father, and her half-brother. Meanwhile, Astrid and Michael are doing better and also worse, now that Michael is successful and wealthy in his own right. But wealth has done damage to Michael, it seems. In Hong Kong, a new player on the scene seems to be buying up art and trying to get into all the right places, with the help of various society consultants.

Genre: Contemporary Drama

Whereas the first book in the series is all about the romance from Colin and Araminta’s wedding to Nick and Rachel’s courtship, this book is all about that next level drama. Car racing and accidents, surprise illegitimate children, family secrets, and more flow this way and that for all of the characters involved.

Tropes: Anything to Get Ahead

There is a lot of ambition going on in this story. Aside from Rachel and Nick, most of the characters are trying to achieve something. Connections, status, greater wealth, entrance to the most exclusive clubs, and more are on the table despite the resistance of a few down to earth characters such as Astrid.

Plot: Literally a Soap Opera

Like I said, the drama is there. While the wealth in the first book was extravagant, Kwan goes out of his way to emphasize that the wealth being dealt out on mainland China and in Hong Kong is next level in comparison. And with high monetary stakes comes high drama.

The Good

The stakes are dramatically raised in this book by the sheer amount of wealth being thrown about. Whereas Rachel was overwhelmed before, now even Nick is shocked by the amount of money Rachel’s family has to play with. I enjoyed her reunion with her half brother, Carlton, immensely. The two are poised to be rivals initially, but get along from the moment they meet–in part due to how similar they look. I loved Charlie Wu’s story–a continuation really of his devotion to Astrid in the first book. He’s one of the more level headed rich characters, and has such a strong moral center. I also thoroughly enjoyed how much time Kitty got in the story and how she ultimately had to choose her own path to societal acceptance. Also that she got custody of her daughter, I loved that part.

The Okay

I do think the dramatics over Rachel’s presence thrown up by various other women was a bit over the top. Many people see her as a threat to Carlton’s fortune, but I don’t think that was ever on the table as an issue nor something Rachel wanted.

The Bad

Michael Teo became the villain of Astrid’s story surprisingly quickly. The first book sets him up in such a sympathetic light, despite his supposed affair. Even getting glimpses of his perspective helped with giving more nuance to his conflict with Astrid. But he becomes cartoonishly greedy in this book–very reminiscent of Eddie actually.

Final Thoughts

It was highly impressive how quickly the stakes rose from Crazy Rich Asians to China Rich Girlfriend. Very quickly, Kwan establishes just how next level some of the billionaires of mainland China are–and how complicated things can become when balancing wealth. There are also more mentions of generational trauma. In the first book, trauma from the Japanese occupation of Singapore plays a part in the social dynamics of the elder generation. In this, the purges of Communist China are addressed obliquely. I do wish there was a bit more of that in play, but there was already a lot going on for Kwan to juggle when writing. Carlton was my favorite addition to the cast, and Kitty was my favorite reappearance. I loved how fleshed out Kitty became throughout the book–from her real backstory to the reinventions she goes through. Altogether, this book was a high energy follow up to Crazy Rich Asians, keeping the trend upwards.

By Catherine

I'm a lover of books, coffee, wine, and bees. Happy to join the ranks of book bloggers everywhere!

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