Author: Kirstin Chen
Release Date: 9/6/2022
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 43
(see below for breakdown)
I received a free eARC copy from Harper Collins UK ,via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Money can’t buy happiness… but it can buy a decent fake. Ava Wong has always played it safe. As a strait-laced, rule-abiding Chinese American lawyer with a successful surgeon as a husband, a young son, and a beautiful home–she’s built the perfect life. But beneath this façade, Ava’s world is crumbling: her marriage is falling apart, her expensive law degree hasn’t been used in years, and her toddler’s tantrums are pushing her to the breaking point.
Enter Winnie Fang, Ava’s enigmatic college roommate from Mainland China, who abruptly dropped out under mysterious circumstances. Now, twenty years later, Winnie is looking to reconnect with her old friend. But the shy, awkward girl Ava once knew has been replaced with a confident woman of the world, dripping in luxury goods, including a coveted Birkin in classic orange. The secret to her success? Winnie has developed an ingenious counterfeit scheme that involves importing near-exact replicas of luxury handbags and now she needs someone with a U.S. passport to help manage her business–someone who’d never be suspected of wrongdoing, someone like Ava. But when their spectacular success is threatened and Winnie vanishes once again, Ava is left to face the consequences.
Swift, surprising, and sharply comic, Counterfeit is a stylish and feminist caper with a strong point of view and an axe to grind. Peering behind the curtain of the upscale designer storefronts and the Chinese factories where luxury goods are produced, Kirstin Chen interrogates the myth of the model minority through two unforgettable women determined to demand more from life.
Those that regularly read my reviews and my blog will know I am not much of a contemporary reader. While I love a bit of Crime fiction, books like Counterfeit are not the genre I usually reach for, so I was surprised when I was auto approved for this on Netgalley. However, despite it not being in my normal wheelhouse I really enjoyed this book!
It is such a fast-paced read. I devoured it in just over an evening finding it hard to put down. I really loved the style of the writing, it was really inviting, pulling you in and getting you invested in Ava and Winnie’s relationship and their story. Despite the ‘Confessing your life story from your jail cell’ is quite a cliché in Fantasy genres it was somewhat refreshing here. It played out in such a unique way and the mid-point perspective shift was fantastic. I also love that we never got any input from anyone investigating. It was a really good use of the unreliable narrator trope.
The plot was a great mix of the mundane domestic problems faced by Ava and Winne, combined with great moments of tension and drama as they get deeper and deeper into the counterfeiting scheme. I don’t want to give any spoilers but there is a mid-point shift in perspective that really ramps up the drama significantly and turned this from a good book into an excellent book. I didn’t see those twists coming and they dramatically alter the impressions of the characters and how the story plays out in such a swift way that it was almost like being blindsided. It completely changed the nature of the plot and made it so much more exciting!
Overall this was just a fun read, with compelling characters and jeopardy. It also made some really good points on the cost of fashion that left you with something to think about.