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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Hodgson

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I bought Daisy Jones and the Six last year, added it to my TBR pile and it promptly languished there for about 10 months. When I picked it up earlier this year, I was instantly hooked, loving the heady 1970s atmosphere so much that late ‘70s rock was all I listened to for weeks afterwards. I moved on to The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and also adored it. Evelyn is to Hollywood what Daisy is to music, and Reid was cemented as an ‘automatic purchase’ author.

When Malibu Rising came out, I knew that I wouldn't be waiting 10 months to read the book this time around. I did, however, wait until we had some sunnier days because this felt like it was going to be a summer day read!

Once again, Reid’s ability to create atmosphere is expertly executed, and I could practically hear the waves crashing against the shore at times during this book. The story focuses on the four children of legendary singer Mick Riva. It's set in the same universe as the two novels above, with Mick appearing as a side character in both of those titles. His eldest daughter, Nina, is a model and a surfer, and the narrative is built around the day of one of her epic parties at her home in Malibu. We jump backwards from this day at various points to read about Mick courting the children’s mother, June, their relationship and the subsequent birth of each of the children. The backstories are all intricately woven together as we speed towards the culmination of events at the end of the party.

There are similarities to draw between Malibu Rising and its predecessors and not purely because they're set in the same universe. The chaptering is a little quirky again here, with the hours of the party used as chapter breaks in the same way as albums (Daisy) or husbands (Evelyn). The story also centres around a beautiful, young, famous woman again. Nina Riva isn’t like Evelyn or Daisy though. She has never done a selfish thing in her life and is reluctant in her fame rather than relishing it. Even her pursuit of fame, when it come knocking, is for unselfish reasons, and this creates a completely different character dynamic.

The story is told from a different perspective here as well. Whereas its predecessors are first person oral narratives, here we have a third person narrator, all-knowing and ever-present. I like the idea that this is the voice of Malibu itself. I could hear the waves and taste the salt on the breeze as I read this book because Reid evolves the place so perfectly that it feels as much as a character as anyone else. Both Daisy Jones and the Six and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo name their central character in the title so it makes sense that Malibu Rising could be doing the same thing too.

I enjoyed this book immensely and it certainly lived up to my (very high!) expectations. Although it’s set a few short years after the final show in Daisy Jones and the Six, the whole mood of the book is completely different. At it’s heart, it’s a love song to 1980s Cali culture which has a distinct magic all of its own. I can’t help but wonder, though, what Taylor Jenkins Reid will write next. We’ve had the Golden Age of Hollywood, the rock ‘n’ roll era and now 1980s surfer cool. If she continues down this road, the next book will be set in the 1990s, and I’m over here scratching my head about what defines the 90s this completely! From the Fresh Prince of Bel Air and grunge through to the dot com millionaires, I have no idea. But I do know that I’ll be pre-ordering the book, whatever it’s about.


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