Note: This will be a spoilerless review, so read to your heart’s content.
The book VS. movie argument forever haunts my mind when watching an adaptation. However, when it comes to comparisons between the two I tend to remove them as much as I can. Though, this depends on what they do to the book in the film. Does it respect the story or completely tear it apart (I am looking at you Percy Jackson and Artemis Fowl).
It is very rare that I discover a beloved film of mine was originally a book and it not only deepens my love for the story being told but the film itself. This is the case with Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians.
I am unsure how I missed the fact Crazy Rich Asians (2018, dir. Jon M. Chu) was originally a book given it is my all-time favourite rom-com — and I watch it around 20 times a year. But as soon as I discovered that it was, it was straight into my basket. I was already obsessed with the characters and the story of Crazy Rich Asians, I was sure to enjoy hearing more from them.
However, it only gets better as I soon, thereafter, discovered Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians is not only a singular book but a whole trilogy! If you couldn’t tell, I was extremely excited. But, for now, I have only read the first in this trilogy so our attention will be focused here (also given that the film is strictly based on the first one too).
Crazy Rich Asians is a story all about communication, love, class struggles, and prejudice. The story follows Rachel Chu, a young Chinese-American professor who has fallen in love with Nicholas Young (Nick). As is with relationships, the idea of ‘meeting the parents’ was on the horizon. But, what Nick failed to mention to Rachel was that his family were billionaires. Thus, the story unfolds around the two as Rachel learns the world of the crazy, rich Asians is a lot more difficult to navigate than what may first meet the eye.
It is an insight into the real-world lives of insanely wealthy Asians. It is glitz and glamour put to a much older and brighter light than what we have seen in the West. The Kardashians might seem extravagant to you, but they barely hold a torch to the lives that these people live.
There were some differences I noted between the book and the film. For example, the story does not simply focus around Rachel and Nick, the side characters are just as important; Astrid, one of Nick’s relatives, comes in and out of the film occasionally — her story is present but it is not as central as it is in Kwan’s book (I would argue that she becomes as much of a focus as Nick himself); we meet Nick’s father who is completely absent from the film; Nick’s mother, Eleanor, does not meet Rachel until nearer the end of the story — where the tension between the two is built from the offset of the film; and Rachel’s mother’s story is a lot darker than it is in the film.
Nevertheless, these changes have not lessened my love for either of the takes on this story. In fact, they have only deepened my interest in what is to come next. If you liked the film or I have piqued your interest, I highly recommend giving this book a read. Even if you prefer stand-alone books, I would argue you could simply read this and stop — but I for one have already broken the spine on the second.