Last summer, everyone was talking about Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan. When I finally saw the movie, I almost died. It was hilarious, and I loved it. Naturally, my favorite characters were Astrid and Peik Lin. I knew I wanted to read the book. I finally got around to it last month, and I gotta say, I was disappointed. The book didn’t live up to the story in the movie. I did, however, like the book overall. It was fascinating to learn about Singapore and the general culture.
But, the characters in the book were flat. The book wasn’t about them, it was about the culture, the story. While I enjoyed the book as a whole, I didn’t connect with the characters, so I didn’t care as much about what happened to them. Everyone ends up being at least a little bit unlikable.
I can’t really explain the other reasons why the movie was better without some major spoilers, so...spoiler alert. In fact,
SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!
Things I don’t like in the book (especially as compared with the film):
1) Nick doesn’t smooth his relationship over with his mother. His mom doesn’t ever consent to the relationship. She doesn’t give her ring to Nick to propose with. There is no conversation of how Rachel was letting him go so that he wouldn’t have to choose between her and his family. He just persists in choosing her over his family, and she lets him. And there goes his relationship with his mother.
2) Peik Lin is an entirely different person in the book than the movie. Which would be fine if she wasn’t so much less a good friend to Rachel. In the book, she pretty much just buys her clothes and has surface conversations with her. In the movie, she’s involved. She’s also way funnier in the movie. As in, she’s actually funny in the movie.
3) Rachel is weird after she finds out that her mother had lied about her father. She won’t talk to Nick, but she also won’t talk to her mother and let her explain. She pretty much only talks to Peik Lin and that’s not much. This is kind of how it is in the movie, too, though. She sulks in her room for days, and Peik Lin is suddenly a different person and lets her.
4) Astrid’s husband wasn’t really cheating on her (unlike in the movie). He was pretending that he was so that she would divorce him. He was unhappy and prideful and too much of a coward to admit it to her. And she still carries a torch for him, despite there being another character introduced (only seen in the end credit scene of the movie) that is in love with her. I guess I just like the finality of her kicking her unfaithful husband to the curb in the movie. She cares a lot about her image in the book, and it drives me crazy. In fact, everyone except for maybe Nick cares about their images in the book. I get that there are plenty of people like that - people who are living their lives to be seen and approved and care about status. I do not live that way. I live the way I want to, the way that makes me happy. I want everyone else to do the same. So, I get frustrated when main characters are inanely worried about everyone else’s opinion.