With its arresting cover, DAISY JONES AND THE SIX grabbed my attention several times at the bookstore, only to be left on the shelf. Then I grabbed it again, read a few pages, and ended up pretty hooked. This is a terrific story about music, the music industry, and the risks of putting yourself on the line for your art. I loved it.
The novel is epistolary, consisting of interview transcripts from a series of interviews woven together into a group narrative about a fictional rock band. The result is an oral history of a famous band in the 1970s, Daisy Jones and the Six.
At the start, we’re introduced to Daisy, a young, beautiful, and talented woman growing up in California and dreaming of putting her stamp on the world as a singer. In a parallel story, we’re introduced to Billy Dunne and his band the Six, serious musicians working hard to claw their way into the public ear. When the Six start to get big, they end up hooking up with Daisy to make a new album, and the personal and creative sparks fly until they ignite.
In a lot of ways, this is a familiar story: rock band rises and falls due to a combination of drugs, personal conflict, and hubris. Jenkins, however, makes it fresh with her own stamp on it. The epistolary format put off some readers, and it’s true all the people in the story have a similar voice and that you can only go so deep into character with such an approach. For me, the biggest negative happened fairly early, when Daisy was portrayed in glowing accounts as somebody admirable and wonderful, though honestly she comes across as a spoiled kid used to getting her way because she’s unnaturally good looking and has rich parents.
What kept me going initially was the Six and their story. Jenkins did some hardcore homework to capture a story about a hardworking band on the rise that really captures the era and otherwise rings true. An interesting choice was to get the crash and burn due to drugs out of the way early and then make recovery and staying sober a key part of the story and its tension. Meanwhile, Daisy soon came around for me as a terrific character, as she matures and learns she has to work hard to earn her place, while maintaining her uncompromising toughness and vision.
Overall, I loved DAISY JONES AND THE SIX. I found it believable to the point of authentic, immersive, and a hell of a fun story about a band and the people who make up that band in one of the best periods for rock music.