Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Review: the Wangs vs. The World

The Wangs vs. The World

By Jade Wang

Summary: Charles Wang is mad at America. A brash, lovable immigrant businessman who built a cosmetics empire and made a fortune, he’s just been ruined by the financial crisis. Now all Charles wants is to get his kids safely stowed away so that he can go to China and attempt to reclaim his family’s ancestral lands—and his pride.

Charles pulls Andrew, his aspiring comedian son, and Grace, his style-obsessed daughter, out of schools he can no longer afford. Together with their stepmother, Barbra, they embark on a cross-country road trip from their foreclosed Bel-Air home to the upstate New York hideout of the eldest daughter, disgraced art world it-girl Saina. But with his son waylaid by a temptress in New Orleans, his wife ready to defect for a set of 1,000-thread-count sheets, and an epic smash-up in North Carolina, Charles may have to choose between the old world and the new, between keeping his family intact and finally fulfilling his dream of starting anew in China.

Outrageously funny and full of charm, The Wangs vs. the World is an entirely fresh look at what it means to belong in America—and how going from glorious riches to (still name-brand) rags brings one family together in a way money never could.

Genres: Adult Realistic Fiction

Publication Date: October 4, 2016

My Rating: 1 star

I've been in a reading slump lately. The only books I've been reading are the ones that have been assigned in my English classes. It's been like this for the past six months. And it kind of sucks, but at the same time I had accepted it. 

However, I got this book in a giveaway that I entered mostly for the promise of makeup. It sat on my bookshelf for the longest time, taunting me with its pretty cover. So, during finals, when I should have been studying but didn't, I picked up The Wangs vs. The World, hoping that maybe I could get out of my book slump. 

You know what? That was a horrendous idea. Because this book...well. I'll tell you about this book just a bit later. Still, it got me to actually write a review, which may be a greater feat in itself. 

The crux of the issue with The Wangs vs. the World is that all the characters...ALL the characters...are completely horrible people. And yes, there are some plots where this manages to work. I root for Frank Underwood even when he's murdering innocent people to further his political agenda. Daenerys is going on a bit of a power trip in GoT, but I will cheer for her the whole time. However, the Wangs being poor little rich folks who have to learn to be NORMAL while complaining the whole time is not a group of characters I can appreciate. 

Enough with the whining already! Grace complaining about every little thing is enough to drive me mad. Barbra too. And of course, Charles can't stop going over his failures time and time again. We get it. You made poor choices. Live with them. It seems at every point the characters have to bring up something that they hate about being Poor. They have to eat hotdogs now. The travesty. They sleep with sheets that aren't fully cotton. Dios mio. 

Enough with the casual racism! (Yes! It's pretty freaking bad, and it comes from the main character Charles Wang himself, so that's just great.) This is something I just didn't have a tolerance for. When a book has a whole paragraph dedicated to the ugliness of 'mixed' babies, then it's usually not a book worth reading. And the way that this racism from the characters is played off in the books definitely rubbed me the wrong way. Any remark of the sort is seen as a way to get the know the characters better. See their innermost thoughts. Show their flaws. Instead of doing that, it just made me uncomfortable while reading. 

Enough with the cheating and lying to your significant other! Looking at you, Saina, who cheats on her loving boyfriend with some jackass who previously cheated on her and then got the girl pregnant, causing him to leave Saina. I mean. Why. WHy. WHY. After the jackass leaves her, she gets back with loving boyfriend by lying to him. Of all the questionable decisions these characters made, this is the one that I really hated the most, because YOU SEE THE STUPIDITY PLAY OUT RIGHT ON THE PAGE. Not only that, there's never any resolution to this soap-worthy plotline. Loving Boyfriend never finds out that Saina lied to him; maybe the author didn't see it as a significant part of their relationship. However, I was cringing. 

Honorable mentions of wtf? moments in characterization: Andrew do I put this nicely...feeling himself...using ketchup (is this actually a thing? Please don't let this be a thing), Saina believing it was a good idea to photoshop pics of war refugees so that they look like magazine models, (and then not understanding why people were getting upset?), Grace just being a grade-A brat for most of the book, Andrew throwing a hissy fit in college and yelling at his professor, and Charles being glad his wife died in a plane crash because that meant he didn't have to go through the trouble of divorcing her. 

Another problem was writing. It was meant to be very eloquent, a bit flowery at times. Once, I would have praised it because at a glance it seems like very intellectual and adult writing, and as a young teenager it would have intimidated me. It doesn't any more, though, and so I can admit I hated the writing style. The book's writing just seemed to take itself too seriously. Made it seem like a Very Deep Book when the book. Just. Isn't. I don't need the characters to wax philosophical while they pack their suitcases, or put on moisturizer. The high brow language was simply unnecessary at most times, and a bit boring as well. 

I read another review of this book saying the humor wasn't funny, and at first I disagreed. Not because this book was at any point funny, but because I honestly didn't recognize that some things that happened in this book were supposed to be jokes. It wasn't until I pondered over some of the weirder plot points in the book that I realized, yeah, some things were played for humor and just fell completely flat. For God's sake, there's at least three standup routines in this book, and even they aren't funny. There's a lot of crude humor. Aforementioned ketchup scene was, I think, supposed to give me a chuckle, but it just made me grossed out. Charles Wang talking about making his makeup empire with urea (urine) just made me side-eye my makeup cabinet a bit. There was nothing humorous in this book, try as it might. 

Finally, I got to the last page, and the book just...ended. It stopped without wrapping up certain plot points that very certainly could have and should have been resolved. Obviously, this should have annoyed me; but honestly, I didn't care anymore. I had spent too much time being bored to care that the ending was so lackluster. And maybe that's all I need to say to show you that this book just isn't worth your time.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

I'm Back: New Blogging Era, New Me

Well. It’s been well over a year since I sat down at my computer and looked at my tiny little book blog. I thought I had put it behind me; I never really announced I was leaving, but it was a gradual process that felt inherently right at the time. Not to say that I didn’t have little flare-ups of missing writing about books, of course. But with my busy schedule, I couldn’t blog constantly like I used to. Not only that, but for a while I had been realizing that rather than blogging because I liked to read, I was reading because I liked to blog. Books had become a sort of necessary bother for me in order to get comments, followers…you get the drift. 

So I stopped. At the time, I thought I stopped for good. And when I say I stopped, I mean that I didn’t even read for fun anymore. I found new pasttimes and I ran with them, but I let the pile of previously-beloved novels gather dust on my unused bookshelves. 

The book bug bit me again during college when I was procrastinating studying for finals. I started to dive back in, except it was more of a toe dip. A very tentative toe dip, and the deep-end of the pool—this blog—was forbidden. I was going to read for fun, and if I didn’t like the book, I would set it down and not try to read the whole thing just so I could write a scathing but honest review. I was going to read for me and me only. 

The thing is though, this blog has a hold on me, and it changed the way that I read. I couldn’t go back to the good old days. Every book I read, I constantly would think of how I would review that book. What were the things I liked? Why did I like them? Why did I dislike this book? I couldn’t even abandon books anymore; this blog had trained me to plow through novels I hated. I was a changed girl when it came to reading, and it killed me. Ultimately, though, I decided to embrace it and come back to blogging. This time, though, with some caveats.

The thing is, even though I do want to go back to blogging, I don’t want to go back to blogging the way I did before. I hated it as much as I loved it, because it royally screwed up my love of reading. I can’t go back to that place; I am not a happy bookworm there. For this reason, I am putting some rules in place that should help me read in a happier and more organic way, without constantly worrying about stats. They are

  1. More discussions and thoughts on reading in general. That’s right; these  are going to be a significantly larger part of the blog than they were before. It’s as if I used to be scared of these posts, or simply had too much of a Netgalley queue to focus on them. Not anymore. I really enjoy doing these now, and I think that honestly, people like reading them more than a review of some book they haven’t even read yet. And speaking of Netgalley…
  2. No Netgalley. Okay, I know this one will be impossible in the long run, because I am straight addicted to that site. Free books for reviews is my crack cocaine. I’m a broke college student, so the reasons for that should be obvious. However, Netgalley makes me into a requesting monster to the point where I am backlogged on reading, and panic-read my books to have a nice review ratio. I don’t like doing that. So for now, I will ease that pressure and stay off, and when I finally can’t stay off the site anymore, I will be only requesting books I really, reaaaaallllly, want. 
  3.  Abandoning books. I said it previously in this post; I used to never do DNF reviews because I believed I needed to read the whole story before judging it. I don’t give a crap anymore though. If I hate the book by page 100, or even by page 50, I’m going to STOP. And maybe I’ll even write a review about it! But I am not going to torture myself like I used to; I really feel like this is a major part of why I was ultimately turned off to reading. 
  4. Not posting every day. I don’t even know why this previously a goal of mine; it was exhausting. I am currently thinking that twice a week is more than enough, but even then, maybe I’ll post even less as I’m getting used to blogging again. I want to be comfortable reading, and not make it a chore to meet a quota. 

Those are my resolutions for this blog (besides give it a major makeover, which is a post for a different time). I think they’re somewhat doable, and will make me happier in the long run. Do you have any suggestions for me now that I’m back in the blogosphere? Let me know down below. I look forward to getting to know everyone all over again.