Jonathan's Reviews > Less Than Zero

Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
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's review
Jul 10, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: contemporary-fiction
Recommended for: people who like to be depressed
Read in July, 2008

This was a very bleak novel about a group of morally bankrupt people living in L.A. during the eighties. The protagonist, Clay, comes back to California from his New Hampshire college for summer break. The novel focuses on his interaction with his old friends and his family.

There seems to be no limit to the emptiness and depravity of the characters in this novel. Ellis seems to keep you just on the verge of feeling compassion for Clay, but Clay's behavior and the choices he makes keep you from really liking him. There really isn't a character in the novel that I felt anything for except disdain. You are tempted to feel bad for Blair, Clay's girlfriend, as she is treated with utter indifference by Clay. But she too is as vacuous as anyone else in the novel. By the end of the book, it seems that Clay may be going back to college with the realization that he should distance himself from the emptiness of this L.A. lifestyle, but Ellis leaves that unclear. Clay may never stop being one of the people he seems to despise.

Ultimately, this was a well-written and interesting look at privilege and soullessness during a notoriously egocentric decade.
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