The Stand-In - Review
Not me saying a while back that Audiobooks is probably not for me. Not a narration tape dog-walking me out of the current reading slump I'm in. And not it being a romance book! Oh, we're just defying all the odds here! If you've been following my Instagram (@TheLittLibrarian – you'll find some dope curated pics on there, I swear!), you've might have seen me mention a few times that I am in a reading crisis. We can blame The Wild Ones for that. I've been looking for something that could hold my attention. Some books have made it through my rough pass/fail selection, but most were teetering on the DNF line. So to keep the future ratings fair, I decided to put down all physical and digital books and pick up an audiobook. I've been doing great with The Hunger Games series, so I figured I'd stay out of the box and check out an Audible Original, The Stand-In by Lily Chu, narrated by Phillipa Soo.
"Gracie Reed is doing just fine. Sure, she was fired by her overly “friendly” boss, and yes, she still hasn’t gotten her mother into the nursing home of their dreams, but she’s healthy, she’s (somewhat) happy, and she’s (mostly) holding it all together.
But when a mysterious SUV pulls up beside her, revealing Chinese cinema's golden couple Wei Fangli and Sam Yao, Gracie’s world is turned on its head. The famous actress has a proposition: Due to their uncanny resemblance, Fangli wants Gracie to be her stand-in. The catch? Gracie will have to be escorted by Sam, the most attractive—and infuriating—man Gracie’s ever met.
If it means getting the money she needs for her mother, Gracie’s in. Soon Gracie moves into a world of luxury she never knew existed. But resisting Sam, and playing the role of an elegant movie star, proves more difficult than she ever imagined—especially when she learns the real reason Fangli so desperately needs her help. In the end, all the lists in the world won’t be able to help Gracie keep up this elaborate ruse without losing herself... and her heart."
I adored this book! It was cute and the perfect thing to get me out of the reading ditch. Even though it was a 10-hour ride, the story was even-paced, and I quickly got through it. We follow Gracie Reed, an Asian-Canadian woman whose life is … a living shell. I think that's the best way to describe it. Things change for her when international movie star Wei Fangli approaches her to be her doppelganger. What else does Gracie have to lose?
From start to finish, narrator Soo did a fantastic job telling this story. And this is her first audiobook recording ever! If you see this review, do more! Soo became the story with her quips and personality with each character she voiced. She was so good that I started pinpointing figures from other tv shows and movies I've watched. Wei Fangli could have been Astrid Leong-Teo from Crazy Rich Asians, Sam Yao would be the asshole-turned-love interest version of Nick Young from Crazy Rich Asians, and Gracie's best friend reminded me of a toned downed version of Sara Yang from Love Life. When I'm reading an original story, I hardly ever picture celebrities in a fictional character's place, but Soo was so convincing!
I like the building throughout the entire book. It wasn't a wham, bam, get to the point, ma'am. The author gave us a chance to be with Gracie and navigate through weeks of posing as an actress and getting a handle on her emotions on her regular and love life. It's like our hands are being held as we walk through Gracie's thought process on her situations. And speaking of love life, I know this is a romance book, but it didn't feel like a romance book. So, no smut in this one. But the goofy, awkward, and downright embarrassing situations make up for the lack of it, and in all honesty, the steam wasn't needed. The hints and the edifice sufficed.
The only thing I couldn't get over was how the chapters ended. It always sounded like it was an unfinished thought followed by a long pause introducing the next chapter. I think that's more on recording and editing than reading the actual book, but it was still noticeable.
Overall I rated this book 5-stars. It was cute! Soo dominated this audio, and I hope to hear more from her soon. Chu also did a great job writing this book. I hope to see more from her as well. Thanks to both of them, I can stretch my legs and hop back on my reading journey!
The Stand-In is available in both audio and physical now!