Read Date: April 13, 2019
Format: Print Book
Taylor Jenkins Reid has again demonstrated her penchant for crafting intricate stories that exemplify some of the most wistfully remembered– or dreamed about– eras of culture. After her 2017 portrayal of 50s era Hollywood in The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Reid has now given us this gritty, emotional rendering of rock and roll in the late 70s.
Daisy Jones: the stunning accidental roadie turned quasi-socialite turned songwriter turned international rockstar. A paragon of beauty.
The Six: Billy Dunne, Graham Dunne, Karen Karen, Warren Rhodes, Eddie Loving, Pete Loving. From garage band roots, the six musicians begin ascending to fame before producers, managers, the press, etc. suggest a merging between The Six and their tour opening act, Daisy Jones.
Daisy Jones & The Six chronicles life as a rockstar from the perspective of each of the band’s members and gives a backstage pass to the inner workings of touring, the making of an album, and all the behind-the-scenes work that listeners rarely consider. Expressed in an interview format, the novel leaves nothing out. We fall in love with characters and we hate them; some of them struggle with addiction and some of them sober up; some grow out of rock and roll and some never do.
While all of the “world building” and atmospheric description is incredibly interesting and, Daisy Jones on the whole sort of fell flat for me for 1.5 very large reasons. I’ll start with the .5 reason: I don’t like Daisy.
Now, I know very well that I don’t have to like a character for it to be an objectively good character, and I think that Daisy is objectively well-crafted; she is the epitome of what I imagine a seventies rockstar with an attitude and a love for blow to be. (If you’re following along at home, this is why I’m not counting it as a full reason) But I have already seen the “I know I’m beautiful and I know I can get away with things because of it” leading lady in Evelyn Hugo, so I was a bit disappointed to be encountering such a similar character. To credit Reid, however, I am a performer myself and I do know that this is a common trend in the industry, so props for realism. But more than just the value that everyone else (and she herself, to an extent) places on Daisy solely because of her beauty, she just seemed to be a textbook example of the I’m-not-like-other-girls trope, which is not something that interests me.
The other thing that sort of underwhelmed me was the very predictable plot point that unfolds between Daisy and Billy toward the last third of the book. Because Daisy has the air of I’m-not-like-other-girls about her, I expected her to be presented with this specific twist (no spoilers!) and refute it, which I would have regarded as an immensely strong writing decision, but she plays right into it, and it seemed not only out of character, but easy. Reid has challenged readers in not only Evelyn Hugo, but also in Maybe in Another Life to expect more from the characters on the page than they traditionally would, and I was hoping for the same experience here.
For the 1.5 things I didn’t love about this book, there were countless things I did: Karen is an amazingly defined character, the scenic description and imagery of the cultural surroundings was transporting, and the interview-style format is innovative and allows the reader to see on the page something we already know to be true: that everyone experiences and remembers the same situations differently.
Reading is so subjective, and at the end of the day, I really did enjoy this book. Perhaps my love for Evelyn Hugo had my expectations quite high, but, all said, I would certainly recommend Daisy Jones, and I will happily continue to read Reid (ha!) in the future. If a picture is worth a thousand of the average writer’s words, Reid only needs five hundred to give you the same idea.
Buy Daisy Jones & The Six here or from your local library. Happy reading! 🙂