Book Review | The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang

Jade Chang
ARC; 354 pages
Publication date:
October 4th 2016
Publisher Social Media:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Wangs vs. World was a title that I was especially looking forward to this fall as it centres on an Asian American family embarking on a road trip after the patriarch, Charles Wang loses his fortune.

Unfortunately my unfair expectations of this book coupled with all the buzz surrounding it lead The Wangs vs. World to be a bit of a disappointment for me. For instance, this book was marketed as being hilarious and yet I seldom found myself laughing. Additionally the majority of the book seemed to drag on forever and it wasn’t until near the conclusion that the pacing sped up immensely. Speaking of the ending, without spoiling too much I will say that it came about in a rather unexpected way and it definitely made me wonder if things were left a bit too up in the air.

That being said, there were a few parts of the book that did work for me. One was the relationship between the three siblings. Of the three, I liked Saina the best and it was nice watching her character grow as the novel progressed. I think my favourite scenes in The Wangs vs. World were the ones where we see the siblings all with unique personalities interacting with one another. The interactions were hilarious and it was heartwarming to see how loyal they were to each other. For that reason, I liked the section where the family was in China and it was unfortunate that the section needed to be cut short as I liked watching them all together in one place and bonding as a family.

Jade Chang’s writing at times was reminiscent of Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asian series, which fortunately assisted in moving the story along during certain sections. However, unlike Crazy Rich Asian there was no translation provided for all the Chinese dialogue (at least not in my advance reader’s copy). This only served to alienate me more from the characters as it’s difficult to connect with both the stories and characters when so much of their dialogue is another language that you are not familiar with. Though some of their conversations may be understood vaguely through the context, it still takes away from the main story.

Overall, while it did not work for me mostly since it was not the humourous novel, it was marketed as, The Wangs vs. World still was an interesting look a one family’s Asian immigrant experience and was a decent effort for a d├ębut novel.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.