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.


  1. Holy heavens I'm never picking up this book! Racism, cheating and not facing the real consequences, being jackass idiots. NO!

    Thank you for your very insightful review! Or I might just have wasted money on this book!


    1. Thanks Uma! Yeah, it was pretty bad, to the point where I knew as I was reading that it wasn't redeemable for me, which usually never happens. I really just read all of it so I could review and justify giving it to Goodwill. :/


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