Daisy Jones and the Six – Book Review

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published by: Ballantine Books
Publish Date: 2019
Genre(s): Fiction, Historical Fiction, Music
HB&W Rating: 3
View on Goodreads
Buy on Amazon: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Synopsis

A gripping novel about the whirlwind rise of an iconic 1970s rock group and their beautiful lead singer, revealing the mystery behind their infamous break up.

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the real reason why they split at the absolute height of their popularity…until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go-Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Another band getting noticed is The Six, led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

Synopsis source: Goodreads

Review

It’s like some of us are chasing after our nightmares the way other people chase dreams.

I’m not sure where to start with this book. I liked it, it really wasn’t bad, but fresh off the heels of reading the Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, this book just didn’t have the same magic. Let’s rewind a minute and unpack this.

When I first started reading this book, (call me dumb or whatever) I wasn’t sure if this band was real or completely fiction. Thank the Google gods because even the blurb makes it sound like this was a real band. For the record, in case you too are wondering…it’s not.

The story plays out as a rock band documentary, told primarily in snippets of narrative from “interviews” of various members of the band and the people close to them. The person conducting the interviews and documenting the story of why the band split was not revealed until much much later in the book. In fact, the disclaimer / prologue that appears at the beginning of the book is part of what had me Googling whether this was in fact a real band. After that, the story is almost 3/4 through when we get a glimpse behind the curtain, so to speak.

All that aside, this method of storytelling was a very interesting choice, definitely a break from Evelyn Hugo. I found that it lent a certain raw and gritty credibility to the story of an iconic band from the height of the 70s music scene. This was a huge plus for world-building and being able to visualize it, at least for me, because I love documentaries and was easily able to imagine this playing out in my head as if on TV. I acknowledge that this may not be the case for everyone, so it is definitely a risky move by Reid. While it did a wonderful job of adding to the background of the story (for me at least), it left a lot to be desired in character development. Most of the periphery characters barely came off the page for me. Even the main characters felt oddly only two dimensional most of the time, and increasingly unlikeable, and I just had a hard time caring about them. But the reason for the big split was going to be revealed, so I stuck with it to see what happened…annnnnd I was kind of let down by the ending. Without giving too much away, I found it to be extremely anti-climactic. The ghostwriter of the story is revealed and suddenly the story becomes about something else, in a way that felt unauthentic. I was hoping for something….more.

…it should also be noted that, on matters both big and small, sometimes accounts of the same event differ. The truth often lies, unclaimed, in the middle.

I will say that the way that Reid arranged for slightly different memories of the same events by the different characters that experienced them as a nod to the unreliability of memories was very cool and an interesting thing to do within the scope of a fictional book. From that aspect, memories, the documentary-style writing was perfect. We don’t remember things perfectly, we remember the version of the story that allows us to be most comfortable with it. Such an intriguing little side point and very clever on the part of the author.

I just remember champagne and cocaine. It was that kind of party. Those are the best parties. Champagne and coke and bikinis around the pool before we realized the drugs were killing us and the sex was coming for us too.

Reid was covering a lot with this book. I mean, it was the 70s music scene, and it was all sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Addiction plays a huge part of this book, so reader beware, this book could be one big trigger. There were daddy issues, parent issues, self-esteem issues, infidelity, and a lot of second-wave feminism in this story. Girl power, the right to choose, pointing out the double standards, etc., which I liked, because it shows how far things have come and how some things remain the same. Using Daisy as a sort of role-model was a theme throughout the book, and she certainly rocked a lot of boats. But because her character felt flat to me more often than not, I don’t think it was accomplished very well. It seemed a little too cut and dry and just not enough drama, and we were promised lots of drama.

All said and done, the world-building was top notch and showing the unreliability of memories was a plus, but the story and the characters just didn’t make it happen for me in this one. The blurbs and other reviews promised big drama but like everything else, just kind of fell flat. I’m afraid this once again puts me against the grain with many readers of this book, sigh.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Tell me in the comments below. I’d be curious to know!

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