“The background you’re born into doesn’t define who you can be.”
This book has been so hyped, and it is fully deserved. This is Gossip Girl meets Crazy Rich Asians in the best possible way. I have followed Kyla Zhao on TikTok for a long time and I have been waiting for this book because of the Gossip Girl vibes that this book gave me. It was fun and light paced as well as being full of fashion and glam. It presents such an interesting portrait of Shanghai’s high society although I cannot comment on how accurate it is.
This follows Samantha Song a writer for a magazine and a dreamer for the high life of Shanghai. When presented with the opportunity to create a persona and become part of Shanghai’s elite she forms the Fraud Squad. Alongside Tim, the son of Shanghai’s top business owner and Anya her socialite and co-worker. As they infiltrate Shanghai’s top events Samantha soon realises that the high life is not what she expected and her journey to write in the top magazine S, is not as smooth sailing as she expects.
I loved reading about the world in this book. Zhao did an amazing job about writing about a society which is so cutthroat and classism not only through the main character but also those already involved within high society. Anya, Tim and Samantha were so interesting to learn about their views on how society treated those depending on their social status. It was also so much fun to see all the brands being name dropped and used within the storyline. The vivid descriptions which were used throughout really added to the story and I devoured every part of them. I love books set in high society and it was so much fun to read this one.
The romance was so cute. Seeing their romance build throughout the book and the long drawn out looks which Timothy gave Samantha was adorable. The kopi scene was one of my favourites within the book and it ended in such an interesting way that I want more of their stories. However, it felt slightly rushed within the build-up, but I can understand why the author did that with the fall out of the book. Overall, it was really cute to read about and I would have loved more from the romance. As well as the romance though I really loved reading about the scheming between Samantha and her friends as well as how it affected those around her. I especially loved reading about Samantha and her best friend in the regular world.
The one issue I had with this book was that I felt as though there was several storylines that were unresolved. I felt like a few of the characters did not have an official ending and it was left open which I’m not sure if this is for a sequel or if it is for the reader to decide. I would like to have seen how certain parts of the story had ended. Either way if there is a sequel, I would love to read it in the future.
Overall, I gave this book a four out of five stars because I loved reading about Samantha and her story. It was a nice quick read with great character growth and the fashion aspect of this book was amazing. It felt like a guilty pleasure book with the added aspect of the fashion and luxury felt so fun to read about. I would love to read anything that Kyla Zhao comes out with in the future as this was such an excellent debut novel.
Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of this book!