Brooke's Reviews > The Rules of Attraction

The Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis
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's review
Jun 12, 2007

liked it
bookshelves: 2007, general-fiction
Recommended for: someone looking for a little dark comedy
Read in June, 2007

Although I've always intended to read Ellis' American Psycho, I read this book today in an entirely unintended way (my Little's fiance brought two books with him to Ohio State University's graduation ceremony and he let me borrow the one he wasn't reading). It's definitely a very interesting book, from its purpose to the way it's executed.

The Rules of Attraction mainly follows three members of a love triangle - Lauren, Paul, and Sean - while fleshing out the story with some interjections from other characters. It takes place during one semester of college, although going to class takes up very little of the students' time. They're mainly concerned with getting laid, high, and drunk. It's extremely different from any other sort of teen comedy, since characters in movies such as Van Wilder or American Pie are generally pretty likable and often experience poignant moments during their depravity. Lauren, Paul, Sean, and their classmates seem to operate on one level - extreme narcissism. The characters' differences in perspective about the same events sharply highlights how self-absorbed and unable to connect with anyone they are. Everyone is madly in love with someone (and that 'someone' changes weekly), but no one ever talks, and beauty and fuckability are tantamount to being loved. At the end of the novel, each character notes that he or she hasn't changed, which flies in the face of normal fiction, where characters are dynamic and their journeys serve a purpose. Major events - abortions, a suicide, the death of one parent and the divorce of another - have absolutely no effect on these people.

This complete unlikability might leave the reader turned off, but the way Ellis handles it redeems it. An unsubtle reading of it might miss the dark humor (which none of the characters are aware of, of course). Ellis seems to be both mocking and mourning the characters as he writes about them, and the fact that Camden College is modeled on his own college suggests he's commenting on things he witnessed firsthand.

Two notes - the book both starts and stops in the middle of sentences (which threw me when I opened it, convinced it was a misprint), and Sean's older brother Patrick pops up later as the main character in the well-known American Psycho.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Byronboy (last edited Oct 29, 2010 06:15PM) (new)

Byronboy That's a stroke of luck -If your "little's fiance" had instead given you 'American Psycho' to read, maybe you'd need to re-think the wedding!
Or perhaps you are the type of family that likes to play together!!!

Brooke I have no idea what your comment means, but thanks for amusing me with your nonsense.

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