Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid #review

Book cover of Malibu Rising - Taylor Jenkins Reid

Title: Malibu Rising
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Publisher: Penguin


A lifetime holding it together.
One party will bring it crashing down.

Malibu: August, 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together, the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over-especially as the offspring of the legendary singer, Mick Riva.

By midnight the party will be completely out of control.
By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames.

But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.

Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them . . . and what they will leave behind.

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My review:

Taylor Jenkins Reid (TJR) has created some brilliant characters in her novels. I’ve only read a few of them but I really enjoyed Daisy Jones and the Six and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – I liked the characterisation and the historical aspect of them both. Malibu Rising also takes us back in time, but this time to 1980s Malibu as we join the Riva siblings. They’re the children of famous singer Mick Riva, and are preparing for their annual, exclusive party – but we know that by the end of the evening, the huge house will be on fire…

The characters in this novel are, as always with TJR’s books, engaging and intriguing. I didn’t feel like I got to know Nina as much as I’d liked – she feels like a bit of an enigma – and some of the siblings got on my nerves at times, but they were all interesting to read about in different ways. We swing between different points of view, as well as going back to the 1950s to find out what life was like for their mother, June, as she met and married their womanising father Mick…

Between the two timelines, we find out a lot about Nina and her siblings’ early lives. There are some sad moments in both, but it never feels too much – there’s always some light relief coming, whether that’s in the form of a sweet family moment or details about celebrity life.

I think I actually preferred the 1950s storyline as I loved reading about June and Mick’s relationship as Mick becomes more famous. In contrast, the party felt drawn out and OTT, and everyone there was immensely irritating. I didn’t feel like it had the same kind of depth to match the 1950s narrative and I wasn’t really interested in what was happening.

Like all of TJR’s books, this is entertaining and full of melodrama. Also, as this is one of the books in the same universe as a few of her other books (though it is completely a standalone novel) we see characters we recognise from other books- one of them is Mick. Another is Carrie Soto who features in TJR’s most recent release Carrie Soto Is Back (which I’ve yet to read).

If you fancy something that is mostly light-hearted but with an extra layer of emotion too, and some fun characters, give this a go. But don’t expect it to live up to the standard of her other novels.

My rating: 3.5/5


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