Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan

In brief: The last book in the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy has the matriarch of the Shang-Young families on her deathbed. Everyone returns to Singapore, just in case they are the chosen one to inherit her fortune and massive estate.

The good: Crazy good fun with outlandish moments (i.e. fish plastic surgery).

The not-so-good: A bit less of Rachel and a bit of sadness at the ending.

Why I chose it: I love this series!

Year: 2017

Pages: 398

Publisher: Doubleday (Penguin Random House)

Setting: Mainly Singapore, but throw in most of Asia and some Europe too

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

I am one of those people who have obsessively followed the Crazy Rich Asians filming and have eagerly awaited the release of this book, the final in the trilogy. I love this series for its out there craziness, lavish lifestyle and extreme problems only the ultra rich can face. While the first book is still my favourite, Rich People Problems is a fitting end to the story that’s a bit more serious (well, sometimes). It’s like the series has grown up and matured. But there are still plenty of fun revelations to be had, such as plastic surgery for fish. (I kid you not).

At the start of the novel, the Shang-Young families are doing their usual thing at the ends of the globe. Nick and Rachel has happy in New York, Eddie is colour coordinating his outfits somewhere and Astrid is working through her divorce. (Or so she thought until an unexpected visitor arrived at the Fellowship Banquet she was attending) Others are on remote islands, some are lunching with Singapore’s finest. Until they get the call. The matriarch of the family, Su Yi has had a heart attack and is dying. Cue the sound of many private jets (unless you’re part of the Thai royalty side of the family, who flew discount economy because it’s cheaper) arriving in Singapore. Some of the family want to see Su Yi, others (hello Eddie) are hoping and wishing for a last minute change in her will. That’s the primary plot of the novel, with flashbacks to Su Yi’s time in India and Singapore during World War II. I found those parts fascinating, showing that Kevin Kwan can write more than lighthearted fiction. A Su Yi novel would be one of courage, determination and resistance as she takes on the Japanese almost singlehandedly during their occupation of Singapore.

But I digress. Where there are Shangs and Youngs, there are always interesting things happening. Eddie and his comical attempts to become Su Yi’s #1 end in disaster as always. Astrid is fighting a divorce that is becoming very bitter to the point of scandal, to the shock of her parents. Rachel is being wise and quiet on the sidelines as always. Kitty Pong is back and ready to take on Singapore against her bitter rival, step daughter Colette. Is Colette one step ahead of Kitty or out of the game? I enjoyed Kitty’s lavishness and determination that money can buy absolutely everything. She was refreshing and unintentionally funny as always.

In a way, Rich People Problems was about visiting the characters one more time. As a reader, I hoped everyone would find their closure. The majority did, but one of the main character’s endings was a bit dubious to me (I’m not saying who). I just didn’t think a spiritual rebirth and rejection of their previous life was quite in their nature. I felt that it was kind of an easy way out of the hardships they had faced. But hey, everyone can be surprising and who knows, they may change their mind and be the subject of another book!

If you’re a lover of footnotes (and let’s face it, you probably are if you’ve read the first two books in the series), Rich People Problems won’t disappoint. The footnotes are full of gossip, explanations for the brands too exclusive to be on your Instagram and translations of the best insults to English. The narrative and style packs so much in, you can’t help but be greedy for more details!

I’ll miss my favourite characters (Su Yi and Astrid) but I’m looking forward to seeing them on the screen soon in Crazy Rich Asians.

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