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Ranking the Taylor Jenkins Reid Universe Books (and the future of these novels)

If you’ve been in any bookstore recently, seen videos tagged #BookTok on social media, or asked people for book recommendations in the past couple years, you’ve definitely heard of author Taylor Jenkins Reid. Although she has eight published novels total between 2013 and now, three of them have risen the ranks of best selling lists. These three, and one soon to come in Fall 2022, exist in the same Hollywood universe and follow different fictional celebrities during different decades. Daisy Jones and The Six (2019), The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (2017), and Malibu Rising (2021) are some of the biggest titles in bookstores now, and their popularity will only grow with their upcoming screen adaptations.

Interestingly, these three novels all have different formats and storytelling, but their characters and stories have made readers fall in love with this fictional universe and wish these celebrities truly existed. The names of the titular characters often pop-up in the other books, and fans love seeing these references and reckoning some of our favorite and least favorite characters. For example, I think every reader wants to roll their eyes and groan when we see famous singer Mick Riva pop up to ruin characters’ lives. As I’ve talked to friends about these novels, everyone has different opinions because they’re so hard to rank, but here is my personal ranking, and the film future of each novel: 

Honorable Mention: Carrie Soto Is Back (2022)

I have to give a shoutout to Reid’s upcoming novel in this Hollywood universe, which will follow Carrie Soto as she tries to make a comeback and leave retirement as a world famous tennis player. Personally, I’m really excited to read about celebrity athletes and how Reid will write about the competitive tennis world and the pressures on a female athlete. Carrie was introduced in Malibu Rising, and I can’t wait to learn more about her. It will be interesting if we see any overlap of other characters in past novels.  

Daisy Jones and The Six (2019)

I truly love Daisy Jones and the Six and wish the band existed in our world, but I have to rank it third. I’m usually not a personal fan of dialogue-structures in novels, and Daisy Jones is told through interviews, so I rushed through this book more than the other two. However, Reid created an incredible story told through these quotes and we can still understand the heartbreak and emotion that each character suffered through as their band rose to fame in the 1970s. Usually, original songs in novels are hard to understand if they’re just lyrics on a page, but the Daisy Jones and the Six songs are a highlight of a novel. 

In exciting news, we will all get to see (and hear!) the story and songs of the band onscreen in a documentary-style miniseries. Amazon is collaborating with Reid and Reese Witherspoon to produce a 10-episode season starring Riley Keough as Daisy Jones and Sam Claflin as Billy Dunne. The cast seems to have great chemistry, and I can’t wait to see the first trailer, see the band exist on-screen, and get to actually download their albums. Having a multi-episode series will allow viewers to truly see the drama of the band develop and increase Reid’s popularity even more. 

Malibu Rising (2021)

Malibu Rising was incredible and I think out of the three, this one deserves more hype. The novel has alternating perspectives between four siblings, their mother, and their father Mick Riva. I loved the aesthetic background of the Malibu beach, the growing tension between characters and their conflicts, and the chaos of the “biggest celebrity party” that lasts throughout the whole book. I really hope we see more of the Riva siblings, and in particular I would be interested to see what young Kat does in the future. 

Currently, there are plans for Hulu to produce a series based on the book, and if the other two novel adaptations are successful, I assume Malibu Rising will also rise to greater popularity. 

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (2017)

Not surprisingly, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is often ranked the highest and is also my favorite. This was the first Taylor J. Reid novel that I read, and I was immediately engrossed. I love how this novel is split into the stories of Hugo’s seven husbands, and her Hollywood history is intertwined with journalist Monique getting to know Evelyn in the present. It was heartbreaking in the best way, and I loved getting a beautiful story without prose that was too complicated and convoluted for younger readers. 

Recently, Netflix announced that they are producing a film adaptation of the novel with a future release date. I have a few worries about this film adaptation: Netflix movies often suffer from poor dialogue, rushed plots, and bad actors. In particular, many fans of Evelyn Hugo predict that there won’t be enough screen time to cover all the important aspects of her history, her husbands, the ultimate love of her life, and Monique’s story. Furthermore, many people worry that a Latina actress will not be cast as Evelyn, who is Cuban-American. I hope that Netflix does this beloved novel justice because the story has impacted so many readers and the movie has the chance to be the next big pop-culture moment. 

Maria Sell

Conn Coll '23

Maria (she/her/hers) is a junior at Connecticut College studying American Studies and Sociology and is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area. She loves getting to play on the Women's Water Polo Team with her teammates here and enjoys reading, baking, and coaching water polo outside of school!
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