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Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw : A Book Review

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Phoebe is a factory girl who has come to Shanghai with the promise of a job – but when she arrives she discovers that the job doesn’t exist.

Gary is a country boy turned pop star who is spinning out of control.

Justin is in Shanghai to expand his family’s real-estate empire, only to find that he might not be up to the task. He has long harboured a crush on Yinghui, who has reinvented herself from a poetry-loving, left-wing activist to a successful Shanghai businesswoman. She is about to make a deal with the shadowy figure of Walter Chao, the five-star billionaire of the novel, who – with his secrets and his schemes – has a hand in the lives of each of the characters.

All bring their dreams and hopes to Shanghai, the shining symbol of the New China, which, like the novel’s characters, is constantly in flux and which plays its own fateful role in the lives of its inhabitants. Five Star Billionaire, the dazzling kaleidoscopic new novel by the award-winning writer Tash Aw, offers rare insight into China today, with its constant transformations and its promise of possibility.

I received this book in my monthly ‘A Box of Stories’ subscription. Five Star Billionaire was really difficult to get in to at first, I think it was down to how each chapter involved a different character, and you had to wait another 4 or 5 chapters before that characters story continued.
It was also difficult remembering who was who until about 150 pages in when eventually, their lives began to come together. This is when the book became really good and I couldn’t put it down. This was short lived though, as when it came to the ending, it was disappointing. I felt like I had just began to know the characters and become involved in their lives, I was starting to feel sympathy for them and hope for a better future for them but… then the book ended and it ended without much of a conclusion as to what happened to who.

The ending was disappointing. I feel like I had just began to know the characters and become involved in their lives and then the book ended without much of a conclusion as to what happened to who.

This is not usually the type of book I would read but I am glad I read it. It has the potential to be a great story, but I think it needs a better conclusion and perhaps a better layout.

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