Book Reviews

Book Review: Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Malibu Rising Taylor Jenkins Reid

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publisher: Random House- Ballantine
Rating: 5 stars
Read: January 2021
Expected Publication Date: June 1, 2021

A huge thanks to Netgalley and Random House for this eARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Synopsis

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 rising 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.

Penguin Random House

The Review

I’m a big Taylor Jenkins Reid fan and was thrilled to receive an advanced reader’s copy of her new book Malibu Rising. While I’m a sucker for her earlier romances (After I Do, One True Loves, etc.), her historical novels (Daisy Jones & The Six and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo) are such a wonderful mix of incredible character development and original plot. Malibu Rising does not disappoint.

The story is set in the summer of 1983 in Malibu, and the author does a fantastic job creating a setting filled with all the nostalgia and vibes of 80s surfer/beach culture. The story takes place over the course of 24 hours, interspersed with flashbacks, and is focused on the lives of the Riva family.

In my opinion, the flashbacks were the best part of the book. They created a solid backbone for the fleshed-out story to come. Mick and June’s tragic love story and young Nina’s sacrifice, strength, and resilience broke my heart. I also really loved the relationship between the four siblings in general. Nina, Kit, Jay, and Hud were well-developed characters. I was rooting for each of them.

However, the actual party scenes leading into the late night and early morning did not work as well. This part of the story introduced characters and relationships that made the story feel crowded. Some of them barely interacted with the Riva siblings, didn’t feel important, and were hard to keep track of. Also, without giving spoilers, Casey’s character was fine but not necessary. Finally, I felt that there was a huge build-up to the ending, but somehow it ended up feeling anti-climatic since the party was already progressively getting wilder and wilder.

Nevertheless, this story of sacrifice, love, and choice was beautifully written and well executed. If you enjoyed The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones and the Six, you will not be disappointed (And you might also remember Mick from somewhere…)!

CW for: drug abuse, alcoholism, death, infidelity

The Book

Far Flung Readers’ blog received an Electronic Advanced Reader’s Copy of Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid courtesy of Netgalley and Random House in exchange for this honest review.  A big “thank you” to them! You can pre-order/purchase a copy for yourself through Bookshop here.

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