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Review: Malibu Rising

Malibu Rising

Title: Malibu Rising
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Genre: General Fiction, Family Drama
Page Count: 384
Published by: Ballantine Books
Date Published: June 1, 2021
You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Goodreads 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.

The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud—because it is long past time to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.

Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.

And Kit has a couple secrets of her own—including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.

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.


The more I sit on this review, the more frustrated I get with Malibu Rising. I know this book will hit the mark for many readers, especially the swarm of TJR fans (of which I consider myself indeed), but Malibu Rising… is this really the same author that brought us Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones? 

I struggled. Mainly because there wasn’t any urgency or driving need to know more. While the reading itself is easy and goes down relatively smoothly in true TJR style, there wasn’t anything that kept me wanting to come back. A plethora of characters were stretched too thin with a plot that dragged its heals and then the reader is thrown into the last quarter of the story where too many characters are catapulted at us to even follow … it just wasn’t well executed overall. 

But aside from a lacklustre plot and poor execution it was the unnecessary sexual content that really pulled down the whole for me. Can we please just stop with the inundation of unnecessary and entirely awkward sex scenes for shock value? There are other ways to inflict drama in stories and constant, gratuitous, “look-how-hot-it-is” sex just isn’t, well, hot. Malibu Rising plays it heavy handed with these ridiculous, forced sex scenes – a trend I’m noticing is becoming more and more popular in general fiction (a trend that likely isn’t going anywhere in our post-Bridgeton world). While I really enjoyed the parental backstory set in the 1950s, the storyline (ie majority of the book) that follows the siblings in the 1980s was flat, the storyline following the night of the party was difficult to follow, and overall what should’ve been a fast beach read wound up stalling out for over a week. I just never wanted to pick it up. 

Better picks instead:

Last Summer at the Golden HotelLast Summer at the Golden Hotel

Written by Elyssa Friedland

Published by Berkley Books

You can find it here: Bookshop.org




The SirenThe Siren

Written by Katherine St. John

Published by Grand Central Publishing

Full review HERE.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org



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