So I actually really enjoyed CRAZY RICH ASIANS, but seeing as how this is my month of disappointing sequels, my expectations weren't too high for CHINA RICH GIRLFRIEND. Consistency may be key, and yet so many authors fail when it comes to penning that follow-up to a successful first book. Not so here! While I was a little apprehensive at the beginning of CHINA RICH, I ultimately ended up devouring the book with the same amount of enthusiasm as I did the first. Rachel and Nicky are such a great couple and after the wicked cliffhanger of the first book, I needed closure about what was going to happen with their marriage, as well as with Nicky's relationship to his mother.
CHINA RICH GIRLFRIEND takes off where CRAZY RICH ended. Rachel and Nicky are finally going to get married, in secret, after the shenanigans that Nicky's mother Eleanor pulled (if you read the first book in the series, you'll totally understand why). My fear was that now that the main tension of the first book was resolved, there wouldn't be any more delicious drama, but I was wrong because now there's a new drama to replace the old: Rachel's father. Remember how Rachel not knowing who her father was was a huge deal-breaker for the Young family? And remember Kerry's teary story about her own upbringing? Well, now we know who Rachel's dad is and, more importantly, who he became - and trust me when I say it's shocking.
Also, she has a brother. *gasp*
In addition to this new drama, there are new characters: Carlon, Rachel's brother; Colette, said brother's crazy-rich society girlfriend; and Corinna, lifestyle makeover artist to the rich and famous. Kitty Pong also makes an appearance, but now she's desperately (and with mixed, but mostly failed success) trying to remake her image. I really liked the Pretty Woman trajectory of her narrative ARC. I liked her character in the first book, so it was kind of hilarious seeing her waltz into the narrative again and break one social more after another in her attempt to be one of the "in" crowd.
CHINA RICH GIRLFRIEND is a different story than CRAZY RICH ASIANS, which I think might be why some people are ambivalent about it. CRAZY RICH is a much more traditional "us vs. them" romance story in which the underdog heroine snags the dreamy prince, despite the fact that everyone and their grandmas are against them getting together. CHINA RICH is more like those bloated glitter-trash doorstop novels that were so popular in the 80s (a favorite of the late Jackie Collins). Think lifestyles of the rich and famous. Yes, there's still romance, but in this book the focus is more on the drama between all the different families as they seek wealth, power, and acceptance. It's an incredibly fun series, and even though it may be vapid, I think it's important to note that representation is important in all forms of books, not just high literature: trashy books with people of color are just as important as rep in literary fiction, if not more so. After all, this is pure escapism.
3.5 out of 5 stars