How do you write a book about music? Many writers have tried, and all of them have found their own unique way. They can focus on the music itself, on the era which inspired its music, or on the power of music. Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novel Daisy Jones and The Six is about the world’s biggest fictional rock band, and it focuses on the relationships between its band members. But is it any good? Read on!
Daisy Jones and The Six is the story of the rise and fall of the eponymous fictional band who, during the late 1970s, were the biggest band in the world. Through interviews by its members and associates, we get an insight into the band’s defining moments, the inspiration for their songs, and the reason for their inevitable downfall.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? I really thought it did, but from the very first page, I felt I was trying too hard feeling like buying this book was worth it. I really wanted to like the characters. I wanted to feel like they were real, glamorous superstars, dealing with their own problems. However, they were all flat as a board. While keyboard player and pseudo-feminist Karen Karen keeps interrupting to talk about the patriarchy, it doesn’t really add depth to her character. Housewife Camila is so devoted to her husband, frontman Billy Dunne, that she has no personality of her own. And then there’s junkie Daisy Jones, whose background story is presented in three sentences, as if that explains her behaviour. Seldom has a main character been so insufferably obnoxious, while also being electrifyingly beautiful and blessed with a perfect voice, as well as immensely talented without putting in the effort.
Daisy Jones & The Six is a story about otherworldly people, the rich, famous, and wildly talented, instead of about real human beings. I’m usually not averse to reading about these godly creatures, because I love finding fault in them, and realising that they’re no better than us mere mortals. However, there is hardly anything wrong with these characters, their mistakes have no consequences. And that makes them boring. There’s one line near the end of the novel, when frontman Billy Dunne, who feels bad about wanting alcohol (but of course manages to stay off it, because that’s how awesome he is), complains about it to a stranger, who then replies with, “You’ll pardon me if I don’t feel too bad for you.” That’s how it felt; you cannot feel sympathy for those who have nothing to complain about.
The worst part, however, is the endless amounts of drugs that are consumed, and it’s where Daisy Jones & The Six gets truly unrealistic (yes, even less realistic than having literally flawless characters). The novel is written like a long interview between the band members. As such, it relies solely on the band members’ memories, which, considering they were high for approximately ten years, is remarkably well functioning. They are even capable of remembering long monologues to the letter. Furthermore, after a while you start noticing that they all talk in the same way as well, thus destroying the idea of having multiple voices. Oh, and the “plot twist” at the very end, in which we find out who’s the author of this fictional biography, insults my intelligence.
But the absolute, very worst part (can there be such a thing as worse than the worst?) is the fact that this book is advertised as breathing new life into the seventies. I’m a huge 1970s fan (when I was younger, I really wished I was older, just so I could be part of the era – and since I wasn’t, I instead decided to listen to the music incessantly and devour every single Wikipedia page devoted to this decade – and as a result people have occasionally begged me to stop talking about the seventies; always a pleaser, I then started talking about the sixties instead), and I really wanted to be a fan of Daisy Jones and her band. I would go with them on their tours and meet all those real seventies stars, such as David Bowie, Pink Floyd, the Stones, Stevie Wonder, and so on. However, and this truly disappointed me, none of them made an appearance. There was nothing remotely seventies-ish about it. It was like the fictional band lived inside the idea of the seventies, a vacuum in which their made-up story could take place without real life bothering them. Or maybe Taylor Jenkins Reid just doesn’t really know much about the seventies in the first place to feel comfortable referring to it. I don’t know which one’s worse.
In conclusion, all writing is manipulating. All stories are made up, and we usually go along with it for the sake of enjoying the story. However, I didn’t got along with Daisy Jones & The Six, because I simply didn’t believe any of it. The way in which it was written was artificial, the characters were boring, and the story itself unrealistic. I was very prepared to believe the story of a fictional 1970s rock band, but somehow none of it made sense.
For now, I’ll just stick to listening to my favourite music, instead of reading about it. Anyone care to join me?
What did you think of Daisy Jones and The Six? Do you think you need to actually love the music and era you write about? What’s your favourite music-inspired book? Do let me know in the comments! Also, don’t forget to follow me for more book musings!