1. See Detail

Sign up for an account and enjoy Php150 off your first order with a minimum of Php2000 purchase! Use HELLOBOOKWORM promo code at checkout. For first time orders only.

First Look Club: Jed reviews Counterfeit by Kirstin Chen

First Look Club: Jed reviews Counterfeit by Kirstin Chen


By Kirstin Chen

Publication date: June 7, 2022

Reviewed by Jed Cruz

Let’s cut to the chase and get the best part of this book out of the way so we can talk about the rest of it: Counterfeit pulls off a very neat twist about two-thirds of the way in. Going into detail would be delving into spoiler territory, so just understand that when it happens, it gives the plot just the right amount of energy to keep going, and exactly at the point when it seems like it would start to flounder.

Counterfeit is this over and over: Kirstin Chen does a great job of planting enough information in one chapter to make the reader want to go on to the next – particularly interesting because the pace of the novel hardly counts as “breakneck”. If anything, it’s deliberate and quite relaxed.

The protagonist is Ava Wong, a former lawyer, and a new mother who is living a relatively successful but unfulfilled life. After reconnecting with former college roommate, the flashy and not-just-a-little-bit-shady Winnie Fang, a series of unfortunate circumstances drive her into the wild, wacky industry of high-end counterfeit handbags: the Louis Vuitton monograms, the Chanel Gabrielle Hobos, the Birkins. Soon she’s making inspection trips to Guangzhou malls and making more money than she has ever done, all while holding together a crumbling marriage and raising a developmentally-challenged son.

With their growing criminal empire ready to move on to a whole new scale of operations, Ava is forced to come to terms with just how far down into the business she has gone. And it’s all very funny and heartbreaking and human. Ava, as the narrator, is a very nice person with a mean streak hiding underneath a perfectly pleasant surface. Her voice lends much to make the reader see things from her perspective, through her own quirks and biases.

Maybe the twist isn’t actually the best part. It’s the memorable part, but the rest of the novel is pretty good, too: the characters are distinct and memorable, and as mentioned earlier, the plot moves along at a confident pace, dropping seeds of what’s to come at just the right moments in just the right amounts. The deep dive into the underground industry of fake designer bags is pretty interesting in its own right: little details about the bags themselves are described with the kind of exacting obsessiveness that only a true aficionado (nerd) could.

Counterfeit is a great read: it’s a story about friendship, family, criminal enterprises, and the Asian way of doing things. If you’re into any of these things, check it out.

Jed is one of the co-founders of Popsicle Games, a game development studio based in the Philippines. He has worked as an animator, web designer, and college instructor, but he continues to dream of writing for a living. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter @jrevita.

[Thoughts and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Fully Booked. Then again, we love our authors anyway.]

Related Products

The Best Books of 2022

Free Shipping