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Book Review: Rock n’ roll never looked so good with “Daisy Jones & The Six”

No one does drama and danger like rockstars. Look at “Almost Famous,” “The Dirt,” and the antics of bands like the Rolling Stones and Fleetwood Mac–it’s practically a prerequisite to being one.

The epic melodramatics and drug-fueled chaos that shaped iconic rock bands are the same basics for the best-selling 2019 rock band novel “Daisy Jones & The Six.”

Structured like an interview, “Daisy Jones & The Six” by Taylor Jenkins Reid chronicles the rise and fall of a fictionalized, 70s rock band with all the glitz and glam of stardom–drugs, sex, and bad decisions.

Much of the novel follows the tumultuous relationship of enigmatic frontwoman Daisy Jones and recovering addict frontman Billy Dunne. From the moment the two rockers meet, there’s an undeniable passion–and hatred–toward each other that’ll be the band’s saving grace and downfall.

With an ensemble of other band members and individuals who worked closely with them, the curtain is pulled back on the 70s rock scene, addiction, and fame’s poison on musicians through multiple, conflicting accounts of those glory days. Reid once again transports readers to an iconic age of American culture with this 2019 best-selling release–adding “Daisy Jones & The Six” to her list of transportive works like “The Seven Husband of Evelyn Hugo.”

From the very beginning, the journalist in me was thrilled to be reading “Daisy Jones & The Six.” I’m a sucker for long-form, rock n’ roll stories, and its interview-style narrative hooked me from the beginning. If Reid had written this novel differently–say, none of the perspectives would have been accurate in the third person.

This style doesn’t just reveal their varying perspectives–reading in between the lines of their thoughts and memories paints a marvelous portrait of similar 70s rock bands, addiction, and the pressures of the musician lifestyle. The interview style is a rare find in the world of fiction, and Reid flawlessly peels back the memories and lives of the band members and their inner circle.

Reid’s most vital talent by far is developing complex, nuanced characters that seem to jump off the page. Daisy’s enigmatic talent and carefree personality clashes with Billy’s recent, straight-edge lifestyle for an epic battle of wills and artistry throughout the novel that makes for a dramatic–and often hilarious read.

And in case you’re wondering–yes, “Daisy Jones & the Six” was heavily influenced by the legendary rock band, Fleetwood Mac as Reid states in her Acknowledgements section. I mean, come on, Reid directly took direct details and incidents from the band’s drug-filled, chaotic history and Stevie Nicks’ relationships with bandmates Lindsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood, and Eagles frontman Don Henley. No one knows how to create catastrophic band drama like Fleetwood Mac and Daisy Jones & The Six.

The band’s rise and fall detailing makes for a dramatic and occasionally heartbreaking read, but something was lacking in those tense scenes. Maybe I am simply comparing this novel to Reid’s “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” and my tearful reaction while reading it, but “Daisy Jones” lacked the same bullseye of emotional turmoil that “Evelyn Hugo” had. Don’t get me wrong–this novel was a great read, but the heart-pulling emotions just weren’t There during the intended turning points of the drug addiction spiral, epiphanies, and perspectives.

With a limited TV series on the way, “Daisy Jones & The Six” will surely reach the stardom and cult following of “Almost Famous” effortlessly–I’m sure if Daisy and Billy were real people, they would be thrilled to be relaunched into the stratosphere of music.

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