Malibu Rising Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
Brought to you by Penguin.
From the Sunday Times best-selling author of Daisy Jones & The Six.
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.
The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the centre 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.
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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|Listening Length||11 hours and 6 minutes|
|Author||Taylor Jenkins Reid|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com.au Release Date||27 May 2021|
|Best Sellers Rank|| 186 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
1 in Psychological Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
5 in Family Life Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
8 in Psychological Thrillers (Audible Books & Originals)
Review this product
Reviewed in Australia on 30 August 2021
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I’m not 100% sure if Jenkins Reid’s big breakout success, the 2019 novel ‘Daisy Jones & The Six’ (which looked at an alternate 1970s American music-scene, written as an oral history of one band) has character cameos feature in ‘Malibu Rising’ too … making this the third book in a loose Taylor Jenkins Reid Cinematic Universe? But I wouldn’t be surprised. In ‘Evelyn Hugo’, Jenkins Reid gave us 1960s Golden Age glamour of a claustrophobic Hollywood, ‘Daisy Jones’ was all about the love revolution of the 70s music-scene, and ‘Malibu Rising’ spins around the technicolour 80s – making a pretty neat trilogy of fame, fortune, and how fleeting it all is.
‘Malibu’ spins around one night in 1983 that is about to become infamous – at the annual party of Nina Riva, the oldest daughter of American singing sensation Mick Riva. By the end of the night her house will have burned down, and multiple celebrities will be arrested for various hedonistic acts – the book takes us through the hour-by-hour play-by-play of the day and introduces us to Nina and her three siblings.
There’s Jay – the eldest son of Mick Riva and a surfing sensation whose star is on the rise. Next there’s Hud – a few months younger than Jay – a talented photographer whose romantic optimism may be about to get the better of him. And youngest sibling is Katherine ‘Kit’ who has never been kissed and is determined to not examine too closely why that is, and also correct the situation at her sister’s big party this year.
Then there’s Nina herself – a talented surfer who has found uncomfortable fame via a modelling career she’s embarrassed by, but needed in order to pull herself and her siblings out of near-poverty following the death of their mother and abandonment by their famous father. As a teenager, Nina became the head of her family and surrogate parent to all three of her siblings – and she now finds it hard to shake loose the shackles of responsibility, and finally examine what a lifetime of placating and keeping her head above water has done to her.
Amidst all this is the flashback unfolding romance of Mick Riva and their mother, June – a slow-moving car-crash we read unfold alongside another inevitable blaze burning across Malibu …
Jenkins Reid in her other two books in this loose universe, has kept the children of famous people pretty firmly on the sidelines. They’ve quite literally been passive observers to the tale of their famous family, bit-players on the stage of someone else’s life. So it’s really interesting that Jenkins Reid has decided to take a secondary side-character from ‘Evelyn Hugo’, and give his kids the limelight … to tell a story of being on the periphery, the discarded backstory of someone else’s biography. Mick Riva is clearly a throwback to Desi Arnaz, crossed with Eddie Fisher, with the croonability of Dean Martin – and it’s the Eddie Fisher feel of the character that I found most interesting (he had five wives, was in a messy love triangle with himself, Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor) and that’s because of his most famous child, Carrie Fisher.
Look, none of the Riva children are facing down the same mental and substance abuse battles that Carrie Fisher was (though there is an observation of alcoholism in the Riva family) – but there’s something about Carrie writing her semi-autobiographical Postcards from the Edge in 1987, the same time-period that Jenkins Reid has also thrown the Riva children into, to come into their own and reconcile with their larger-than-life and absent father, that is delicious in its crossover.
I really do love that Taylor Jenkins Reid is treating American fame as their modern mythology. This is something that I think she owes a lot Ryan Murphy who started playing with this idea of showing Americans their true modern genesis when he made American Crime Story and the first season ‘The People v. O. J. Simpson,’ in which he really posited that this was an impactive cultural moment for a whole generation, and one that largely shaped the future (this was an early version of modern reality-TV, from the car-chase to the courtroom; and Murphy hammered this home by alluding to the Kardashian family being hugely influenced by these events.) I do think Jenkins Reid has tapped into this observation beautifully – and many more have since followed; from ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ giving us an imagined female stand-up trailblazer (and now Jean Smart is showing us that progression and stagnation in ‘Hacks’), to David Fincher bringing us the true-story of ‘Mank’ and retroactively looking at the making of ‘Citizen Kane’ (commentary-within-commentary about the blurred lines of politics and Hollywood).
This is also to say – Jenkins Reid has never written about the lives of imaginary famous people, their trials and tribulations, to say “woe is me” about their too-tight glass slippers. She spins these stories of fame and fortune to make bigger commentary. ‘Evelyn Hugo’ was brushing up alongside the commodification of women and femininity, touched on abuse against women within Hollywood – but more broadly; was revealing the queer history within Hollywood, and the ways it was kept hidden so as to project and protect a desire for heteronormative, nuclear family political aspirations to the general public. ‘Daisy Jones’ was a lot about the creative process, and what happens when a woman dares to not be cast as the ~muse~ but puts herself, her desires, front and centre in her art. Similarly, ‘Malibu Rising’ isn’t just about a dead-beat Dad flaming out on his family – rather, it’s about how much is just surface-level illusion. Mick Riva may be able to sing pretty, but he’s left a trail of destruction in his life. The Riva kids were able to bandage and paper-over their crumbling home-life after the death of their mother so as to go under the radar of social-services. And all of them as adults may be starting to look like success-stories; but it’s mostly just another façade, and what’s front-facing is not what is making them happy. These larger themes all have tendrils in today; whether it’s the #MeToo movement or living in a social-media age and the lies that brings … Jenkins Reid knows very well throughout all these books, that fame is just a distortion and amplification of reality. And if she has any over-riding message in all her works it’s to tell readers not to be fooled into worshipping False Gods. No matter how pretty and alluring their lives and exteriors may be.
I really enjoyed ‘Malibu Rising’ – and I’m thrilled to learn that it’s been optioned for a TV series (even as I’m a little iffy on how that’ll work … I would have thought it was a slam-dunk for a movie adaptation?) and all I know for sure is that I’d love to see George Clooney cast as Mick Riva! Please! Make it meta by head-nodding to George’s old playboy persona in the media!
I also think it’d be cool, since many real and imagined 80s celebrities are name-dropped (Jennifer Beals! Goldie Hawn! Rob Lowe!) and Nina as a model, reminds me of a cross between Brooke Shields and Cindy Crawford … so how cool if they played with the kids of those celebrities to appear in an adaptation? Pop Crawford’s daughter Kaia Gerber in there! Have Kate Hudson playing her mum! Go wild with tongue-in-cheek nostalgia!
All in all though; this isn’t my favourite of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s book (it’s still ‘Evelyn’ for me, and always). I also think the ending was a little rushed and didn’t quite land the same way that the heart-in-throat revelations in ‘Evelyn’ and ‘Daisy’ hit? I also wondered if there was a dropped-thread toward the end; when much is made of Mick Riva not indicating as he turns into a driveway, just as a secondary character is also heading home in their car … I was expecting a crash; but maybe that was just a red-herring rather than an editorial hole? Maybe another reason this wasn’t as big a WOW book for me is that I do want more. Particularly youngest sister Kit’s story, which really felt like it was just getting started by book’s end and now I want more!
This book did not disappoint! I was shocked at how fast I was getting through it. And not once was I tempted to pick up my phone and check it. I breezed through this book. It was enjoyable, well written and weaved multiple complex stories together with ease. The authors writing style is great, I went and bought another of her books, The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo and have already read half in two days. I’m going to buy all the books she’s written I’m obsessed!
I’m so grateful to this book for reinvigorating my love of reading. You’re never too old to start something new (again lol) Get this book you won’t be disappointed!
Top reviews from other countries
Malibu Rising is sadly not as good as either even though there's a lot to love in here.
I think the main problem is that it is under-developed and sort of half-written. A couple more drafts and some editing, re-arranging and cutting would have elevated this novel to the standard this author is capable of.
It feels as if her publisher might have rushed her into print too soon. Or her editor blew smoke up her posterior & told her it was fantastic when it was still a work in progress.
I think this author is incredibly talented and I will read her next one and I'm not sorry I read Malibu Rising it's just not what it should have been.
The novel flits back and forth between the night in question - when the annual Riva party takes place - and the early years of the siblings' (Kit, Hud, Jay and Nina) lives and the relationship between their rock-icon father Mick and their mother June. It's all very dull - I had to force myself to keep reading, hoping it would pick up and get better.
As for the party itself, at that point a lot of unlikable characters are introduced very briefly and quickly - after all, the author needed people to populate the party with. But they're cardboard cutout characters - there as space-fillers (literally) and the reader can't care about them because they're unimportant and their time in the spotlight of the novel brief. One example is a mini-story (literally covering a couple of pages) about a guest called Eliza and how she'd like a certain type of man but decided not to stay at the party but go home and read a script (who cares - she's not relevant to the novel) - and here's an example of the frustrating style of writing. We're told 'And so, she did not go inside. Instead, she hung out in the front yard, talking to her friends. And Seth hung out in the backyard, looking for love'. It's written with the type of gravity you might reserve for characters who are the focal point of a novel - star-crossed lovers who might later meet. But nah, Eliza has a few pages and that's it. Like I say, filler material - and not even good filler. Or this - where an actor at the party is introduced: 'Back in high school in Dayton, Ohio, Robert Vaughn Donovan III did not make the football or the baseball team. But the moment he stepped into the school auditorium, he had found a home. With his quick wit and charmingly exasperated delivery of almost every line, he had the drama kids in stitches. His dad's college roommate...' Actually, I won't bore you with the rest. But all this setup for someone at a party who does nothing at all - who has no role in driving the overall plot forward - frustrated me as a reader.
This novel lacks plot, pacing, interesting characters. It's a slow amble across the years, repeatedly flagging up how nice Nina is, how errant Mick is - and it's all tell, tell tell. It's not even titillating. Barely any sex scenes and when there were, they were brief, boring and pretty chaste.
If you are looking for a summer bonk-buster or even a summer page-turner, this book isn't it. It doesn't even feel like it's written by someone who has any insider knowledge of the LA set. I've read that the author used to be a casting agent - but it doesn't feel like she's been close to celebrity or has any interesting stories; unlike Jackie Collins who was clearly close to all the gossip, scandal and sizzle and conveyed every ounce of it in her books. Honestly, what a damp squib of a novel this was.
I’m unpopular with my opinion I know.
But this book took me by surprise. What I thought it was going to be (like a Jackie Collins novel) with horrid little rich people sniping at each other and Botox lol….turned out to be nothing of the sort.
This had a lot of depth to it.
Loss of a parent in death and a father who couldn’t handle fatherhood.
Yes, they had money, but they worked for it.
The eldest daughter made sacrifices.
The family dynamics were intense and I loved every word and shocked myself that I enjoyed it so much.
I only read it thinking I needed an escape from thrillers, maybe a nice summer read. What I got was much more.
So maybe I’ll give her yet another chance when she brings her next book out!