Book Title and Author: Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan
General Thoughts: The final installment in the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, Rich People Problems concerns what happens with Shang Su Yi is on her deathbed. Not only are a great deal of relatives coming to Singapore to visit her―including Nicholas Young, who wants to reconcile with his Ah Ma after five years of disconnect due to his marriage to Rachel Chu―but there’s the fight to inherit her wealth and fortune, most notably the uniquely extravagant Tyersall Park.
What I enjoyed most about RPP was how many of the minor plot lines tied into the main conflict nicely. Kwan has included minor plot lines in the previous two books in the trilogy, but I found RPP did a better job at making everything in the narrative more relative to the overlying plot. The insight into Su Yi’s past and relationship with her relatives was intriguing as well. In general, there are also great details―as Kwan has always provided, which is appreciated―that provide great insight for the ongoings in the story. As per usual, it was difficult to keep track of all of the characters, because there are just such a vast amount of them. But as an Asian with a very large family, I understand how and why so many characters are present.
Book Title and Author: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
General Thoughts: Fangirl is about Cath, a huge fangirl of the Simon Snow series (essentially her world’s version of Harry Potter) as she enters college. She experiences many changes during her freshman year, including not living with her dad or her twin sister, Wren, for the first time as Wren didn’t want to live with Cath. There’s a lot going on in the book, from her relationship with Wren going through serious ups and downs, her dad having a mental episode while Cath and Wren are away, her mom wanting to be involved with her life after leaving when she was 8, and there’s two boys: Nick, the friend from fiction writing class, and Levi, the always-there ex-boyfriend of her roommate, Reagan. And in the midst of it all is Cath and her obsession with Simon Snow. She’s the author of a very popular Simon Snow fanfiction series, which she’s trying to finish throughout the story before the final Simon Snow book is released.
Looking back, there’s kind of a lot going on in the 500-page book, but it never feels like a lot, which is good. However, there were a lot of times in the book when I was wondering what I was supposed to be waiting for to happen or where this was all going. At the start, I was waiting to see if she was finally going to eat food other than the protein bars under her bed. Sometimes I was waiting to see if Cath was going to do her fiction writing assignment. But a lot of the time, I didn’t know what I was waiting for. I didn’t feel the need to keep reading to find out what happened next. The story didn’t pull me in and make me want to keep reading. When something did happen, I couldn’t see where the story was going. In addition, there were some things, like the Simon Snow book and fanfiction excerpts and Cath’s feelings towards being intimate with (spoiler alert) Levi towards the end, that I didn’t fully understand or felt were random. I did like the characterization of the characters, and I’m glad we could see Cath grow and change throughout the book, but the story wasn’t really engaging for me.
Book Title and Author: Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott, Mikki Daughtry, and Tobias Iaconis
General Thoughts: Whenever there’s a movie coming out I want to see that was based on a book, I also do my best to read the book before seeing the movie, so I read Five Feet Apart in a few days just in time to see the movie a few days after its release date. It’s about Stella and Will, two teenagers who fall in love but can’t have any sort of physical romantic relationship because they both have cystic fibrosis. People with cystic fibrosis are fine around people who have stable, strong, functioning immune systems, but not around other people with CF. They have to stay six feet apart from people with CF, and after falling in love, they decide to take one foot back from the disease that’s defined much of their lives and decide to be five feet apart when together.
The book does a good job at educating and explaining the disease to readers and what it all entails. The reader gets to see how the disease has made the main characters who they are but makes sure they are not defined by their CF. Despite being a YA romance novel, the story isn’t really cheesy and has quite a few subplots that add depth to the story.
Book Title and Author: Red Clocks by Leni Zumas
General Thoughts: I loved this book from page one. It is a really powerful novel about what it means to move through society as a female. Though the plot is in the same vein as The Handmaid’s Tale and can be seen as a strong piece of speculative fiction, the ordinariness of the world Zumas creates is what makes the book all the more captivating. The plot follows the storyline of five women in a small coastal town in Oregon, all with different jobs and different lives. In this world, though, abortion is illegal. And it greatly impacts every woman in the story, just not in the ways you might expect. It is such a creative exploration of a very controversial political topic, and well worth reading. Zumas is a brilliant writer who knows how to keep your attention, and I love how the story goes back and forth as these women’s lives weave together to create an exceptionally imaginative novel.